Tag: Jennifer Government

Lexicon by Max Barry

Posted August 12, 2013 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in Thriller / 0 Comments

Lexicon by Max BarryTitle: Lexicon (Goodreads)
Author: Max Barry
Narrator: Heather Corrigan, Zach Appelman
Published: Hachette, 2013
Pages: 384
My Copy: Personal Copy

Buy: AmazonBook DepositoryKindle (or visit your local Indie bookstore)

They are an ancient secret society known only as the Poets; words are their weapons and the art of manipulation is their game. When one young woman breaks the rules for love, things start to unravel. Street-wise runaway Emily Ruff finds herself as a new recruit, training in a facility disguised as an exclusive school outside of Arlington, Virginia. She learns to use language to manipulate minds. While an innocent man is ambushed in an airport bathroom; they claim he is the key to winning a secret war that rages on. Lexicon is a fast paced thriller that explores the power of language and coercion.

I’ve been meaning to read a Max Barry novel for a while now; they all seem to be corporate or in the case of Jennifer Government marketing satires but never got around to trying them. Then Lexicon was released and it seems to tick a few of my boxes to make me sit up and take notice of it. While this has been getting a bit of buzz in America (well done fellow Australian, Max Barry) I just knew I had to read this one. I wasn’t trying to jump on the bandwagon it just seemed like my type of book and I had an opportunity to read it, so I took it.

While this is obviously a fast paced thriller (as I think most of Barry’s books) I can see where the idea a satire comes into play with his works. In Lexicon we look at modern ideas on privacy, identity and information and using an old idea that language is power we can see how Max Barry is toying with the idea that all those things we hold sacred can be manipulated and lost.  This is where the corporate satire comes into play; even in Lexicon, privacy, identity and data-collection are all important and need to be protected and Barry plays with the readers fears to suck them into his thrilling world.

Not only is this a thrilling and addictive read, I really enjoy the way the two different stories are weaved together. You get the story of Emily as she discovers this secret society and learns to coerce through the power of language and then you get the other plot thread and discover what happened in Broken Hill. I love the way this was done and it’s nothing new but it worked really well for a book like this one.

The problem with reviewing a book like Lexicon is there are so many things I want to say about the book but I think anything I do say will possibly be a spoiler. Max Barry really knows how to mix satire into a thriller and produce an altogether addictive read. I hate to do this normally but in an effort to give people an idea what this novel is like; Rebecca Schinsky (from Bookriot) says this about the Lexicon;

“Imagine X-Men plus The Magicians with a side of Nick Harkaway”

Which is a good way to describe the book; the X-Men idea really works as a way to describe the training facility disguised as an exclusive school that Emily is training at. I’ve not read The Magicians but it’s been on my TBR for a while but I tend to avoid fantasy that but I love the Nick Harkaway shout out. Angelmaker was my favourite book of 2012, it is also an addictive thriller with some literary merit and I think this is definitely the case with Lexicon. I know this seems like a glowing review, I did really enjoy it and highly recommend it but it does have flaws but honestly I didn’t care, I was immersed and wanted to know what happens next.