February Wrap-up

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Lexicon

lexicon

“Every story written is marks upon a page. The same marks, repeated, only differently arranged.”

Emily is an orphan making a living at three-card Monte on the streets of San Francisco when she’s recruited by a private and exclusive academy located outside of Arlington, Virginia.  The school isn’t your typical high school – instead of teaching social studies and math it teaches students the art of persuasion, the power of words to unlock and control human minds.  Graduates of the program are known as “poets”, taking on names like Eliot, Bronte, and Keats to hide their true identities.

Wil Jamieson is assaulted and kidnapped by two men when he disembarks from an airplane.  This seemingly innocent and unaware man is apparently the key to a war between different factions of the poets.  With one side trying to literally steal information from his brain, and the other side trying to kill him, Wil ends up on a race around the globe, guided by Eliot.

These two parallel stories come together in Broken Hill, Australia, a small town that has been completely decimated by the poet Woolf.

Lexicon is a thrill-ride adventure.  I enjoyed the book – both the story and the characters kept me engaged and interested – and it was a fairly fast read.  For a book about the power of words, there weren’t many dull moments.  But it’s not just about the power of words, it’s also about privacy, what we choose to reveal to others and how that information is used.

“People resist a census, but give them a profile page and they’ll spend all day telling you who they are.” 

However, ultimately, for all of the principles and morals, it is really something much simpler – it is a story about the power of love.

“I don’t think you’ve been in love. Not recently, anyway. I’m not sure you remember what it’s like. It compromises you. It takes over your body. Like a bareword. I think love is a bareword.” 

 

Title: Lexicon
Author: Max Barry
Genre: Fiction
Pages: 400
Publication: Penguin Press, June 2013
 

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Tuesday Top Ten

top ten rewind - childhood

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by the Broke and the Bookish. Book bloggers create their own lists based on the chosen topics and post links to our lists. It’s a way of all sharing our thoughts and our love of books.  And who doesn’t love lists??

So this week’s challenge was to a Top Ten REWIND – we could pick any past list that we had not done, or one that we wanted to revisit, and make it our list for this week.  Being in a nostalgic mood I decided to go back and list my top ten childhood favorites.  There were plenty of other books that I loved and devoured, but I remember these in particular.

childhood favorites

Orfeo

orfeoOrfeo tells the story of Peter Els, a 70-year old composer who has spent his life in search of the perfect composition, still struggling to define “perfect”, but knowing that it somehow means something that will last forever.  Ultimately, he ends up trying to splice music into the DNA of common bacteria.  When the police show up at his door his home bio lab raises some red flags and Homeland Security isn’t far behind.  Frightened, Peter becomes a fugitive, and fueled by internet hype quickly becomes known as the Bioterrorist Bach.  As Peter travels through throughout the country visiting his wife, his longtime musical collaborator, and his daughter he attempts to make amends and understand his legacy.

Orfeo is incredibly beautiful, the writing is lyrical and the story is gripping.  Powers clearly has an in-depth knowledge of music, history, and technology.  Without the same expertise in these areas, the book can be daunting at times.  I found myself stopping to look up particular composers and pieces to further understand the references and their impact on the story.  While that does mean I actually learned some things, I found myself irritated with the way that it interrupted the flow of the story.  I love a story, and I love getting lost in a good story, and if I have to stop to Google something it’s that much harder to really get swept away.  So eventually, I gave up, and just enjoyed an amazing story and phenomenal writing.  If that means I missed some symbolism along the way, so be it.  Maybe I’ll revisit it again someday and dive deeper, the writing is certainly beautiful enough for a second trip.  Just be an expert in music theory and history, be willing to research it, or be willing to go without it and just enjoy the ride.

“Life is nothing but mutual infection.  And every infecting message changes the message it infects.”

Title: Orfeo
Author: Richard Powers
Genre: Fiction
Pages: 384
Publication: W. W. Norton & Company, January 2014