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“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


4 thoughts on “Lexicon

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