- Paperback: 400 pages
- Publisher: Penguin Books; Reprint edition (April 1, 2014)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0143125427
- ISBN-13: 978-0143125426
- Product Dimensions: 5.4 x 0.8 x 8.3 inches
- Shipping Weight: 10.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 615 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #75,805 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Lexicon: A Novel Paperback – April 1, 2014
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“A dark, dystopic grabber in which words are treated as weapons, and the villainous types have literary figures’ names. Plath, Yeats, Eliot and Woolf all figure in this ambitious, linguistics-minded work of futurism.”
—Janet Maslin, New York Times
"Imagine, if you will, a secret group of people called Poets who have the power to control others simply by speaking to them. Barry has, and the result is an extraordinarily fast, funny, cerebral thriller."
"Imagine blending the works of Neal Stephenson with Michael Chabon and the end result would come close to the world envisioned by Barry. The words brilliant and exemplary aren’t adequate enough to convey the amazing craft of Lexicon."
"A clever blend of sci-fi and thriller, with touches of romance and humor… persuaded me anew that words are, indeed, the bomb."
—Dallas Morning News
"It's a pitch-perfect thriller, a jetpack of a plot that rocketed me from page one to page 400 in a single afternoon, and it kept me guessing right up to the end. Imagine Dan Brown written by someone a lot smarter and better at characterization and at hand-waving the places where the science shades into science fiction, and you've got something like Lexicon."
—Cory Doctorow, Boingboing.net
"[A] speedy, clever, dialogue-rich thriller."
"A crazily inventive conspiracy thriller."
“Brazen and brilliant”
—The Wichita Eagle
“Mind-bending... an action novel that nicely exercises the brain as well as the heart rate.”
"A large helping of both action and thought… anyone who knows 1984 will remember the fanger of allowing people to love each other—but Barry handles it with skill."
"An absolutely first-rate, suspenseful thriller with convincing characters who invite readers’ empathy and keep them turning pages until the satisfying conclusion."
"A scary and satisfying blend of thriller, dystopia, and horror."
"An up-all-night thriller for freaks and geeks who want to see their wizards all grown up in the real world and armed to the teeth in a bloody story."
"[An] ambitious satirical thriller… amuses as much as it shocks."
“The sort of thriller that pricks real-world anxieties about privacy and coercion while rushing on with an outlandish clockwork plot. Lexicon’s clockwork is excellent, too: The book succeeds largely through Barry’s skill in managing his reader and his plot, suspending disbelief by intercutting a pair of storylines until they inevitably intersect. He always chooses immersion over exposition, letting his reader feel his way through the Chomskian mix of surveillance-society paranoia and linguistic geekiness.”
—Philadelphia City Paper
"I bid you, read this book… Not that much of anything is certain in this blistering literary thriller. Lexicon twists and turns like a lost language, creating tension and expectations, systematically suggesting and then severing connections."
"About as close you can get to the perfect cerebral thriller: searingly smart, ridiculously funny, and fast as hell. Lexicon reads like Elmore Leonard high out of his mind on Snow Crash."
—Lev Grossman, New York Times bestselling author of The Magicians and The Magician King
"Lexicon grabbed me with the opening lines, and never let go. An absolutely thrilling story, featuring an array of compelling characters in an eerily credible parallel society, punctuated by bouts of laugh-out-loud humor."
—Chris Pavone, New York Times bestselling author of The Expats
"Dazzling and spectacularly inventive. A novel that jams itself sideways into your brain and stays there."
—Mike Carey, author of The Devil You Know
"I don’t know how you could craft a better weekend read than this novel of international intrigue and weaponized Chomskian linguistics. It’s the perfect mix of philosophical play and shotgun-inflected chase scenes. Like someone let Grant Morrison loose on the Bourne identity franchise."
—Austin Grossman, author of Soon I Will be Invincible
“Insanely good. Dark and twisted and sweet and humane all at once.”
—Lauren Beukes, author of Zoo City and The Shining Girls
"Best thing I've read in a long, long time."
—Hugh Howey, New York Times bestselling author of Wool
About the Author
Max Barry is the author of four previous novels, Syrup, Jennifer Government, Company, and Machine Man. He lives in Melbourne, Australia.
Top customer reviews
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It took a long time for the plot of this book to come into focus and it required great patience of the reader. We begin with a mysterious and violent incident in an airport. A man is rescued from an indeterminate threat and is on the run with another man. They are chased by helicopters and planes and unknown assassins for reasons we don't understand. Then the plot switches to the aforementioned Emily and we're back in "wizard school" (familiar territory from many other such books) as she tries to make sense of the discipline she is trying to master.
Then we're in Australia at the scene of a devastating environmental disaster. How did it happen and why?
Eventually it all links up and makes sense. There are some words so powerful, we're told, that they can destroy entire civilizations. The sinister Yeats, head of the "poets" sect who understand the power of words, is trying to get his hands on the all-powerful word that has appeared in the Australian outback. This will make him godlike. He is manipulating Emily to do his bidding. But Emily has fallen in love.
There's a lot of nasty violence in this book and not a great deal of character development. The nearest thing to a character we can empathize with is Emily - but she's not drawn with any nuance or depth. The plot, absurd as it is, drives the book. If I could give this book two and a half stars instead of either two or three I would. I got through it, but I can't say it was tremendously enjoyable.
Throughout this engrossing and thrilling novel, I saw aspects of my wife's profession...psychotherapy and my own...branding and marketing, "What we're doing, or, I should say, what you're doing, since no one has taught me any good words, is dropping recipes into people's brains to cause a neurochemical reaction to knock out the filters. Tie them up just long enough to slip an instruction past. And you do that by speaking a string of words crafted for the person's psychographic segment. Probably words that were crafted decades ago and have been strengthened ever since. And it's a string of words because the brain has layers of defenses, and for the instruction to get through, they all have to be disabled at once."
This is both a thriller and thinker of a book. It moves with speed, engages with credible characters, and entertains by presenting a shadowy world that exists just below society's surface. The conspiracy element is accentuated by the breaks in between chapters that draw on social media conventions and questionable traditional media reporting. In the end, Barry gets us thinking about power and control, "All empires fall, eventually. But why? It’s not for lack of power. In fact, it seems to be the opposite. Their power lulls them into comfort. They become undisciplined. Those who had to earn power are replaced by those who have known nothing else. Who have no comprehension of the need to rise above base desires.”
There was no need for me to be eleemosynary towards this work as I found it coruscating. The writing is chrysostomatic without being orotund. It was a pulchritudinous read and one I greatly recommend.
Most recent customer reviews
Four stars for a solid read.
1. The prose is sometimes funny.
2. Pace is pretty good.