Lexicon by Max Barry

I spent a good portion of this book having little to no idea what was going on, and yet, was intrigued enough to keep reading. It was a very strange experience.

It might not be for everyone, but I enjoyed how the author revealed little bits at a time, and not always in an order that would help the reader figure things out. It was quite a puzzle, and one that I still have many questions about.

I’m not even sure how to go about explaining it, but I’ll try. Basically, there’s this organization of people who refer to themselves as Poets. They are skilled in the art of persuasion, one might say, very good with words. They have a school where they teach promising young people to hone their skills and be assets to this organization. The projects or missions that this organization performs are not clear – we really only see how they go about recruiting new poets, a bit of what they teach them, and one big evil plot put into play by the boss man who needs to be brought down.

That was really my biggest, and maybe only problem with the book – I want to know what the point of this group is.

The story is told from varying perspectives that converge near the end. We have Wil, who is not a poet, and is suffering from sort-of amnesia, who starts the story off being attacked and kidnapped and having no idea why. We have “Eliot,” a poet who does the kidnapping of Wil, and is trying to find Emily, another poet, who supposedly caused mass destruction in this one town, but really, she was under the influence of Yeats, who is the evil boss man. I don’t even know how to tell you.

It’s an interesting, thrilling way to look at the power of words, as well as relationships. Part of the story and the organization is this idea that everyone can be sorted into a somewhat small, definite number of personalities, and if you know a person’s type, you can probably manipulate them into doing whatever you want. So in this organization, in this school, members are warned against fraternization, against having real relationships, romantic or otherwise, because then others can figure out what makes you tick and use it against you. In Emily and Eliot in particular, it’s clear that this is less than ideal; at best, it’s just a little lonely.

It’s a really, really neat book – I wish I could explain it better. It came into my possession via the Book Riot subscription box, and had cool little notes throughout from the author. Book Riot contributors are better at describing it: you can see that here or here if you care to look.

I would definitely recommend Lexicon, to anyone who loves reading really, and especially if you’re really into words and the use of language in particular.

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One thought on “Lexicon by Max Barry

  1. I might have to check this one out too! Another interesting tidbit- The author of this book also runs a site called NationStates.net that’s based on one of his other books, and I played it for a while several years ago. It just gives me a happy nostalgia whenever I see him pop up on occasion :)

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