Barry, Max, 1973-

Book - 2013
Average Rating: 4 stars out of 5.
Emily Ruff belongs to a secretive, influential organization whose "poets" can break down individuals by psychographic markers in order to take control of their thoughts. Then she makes a catastrophic mistake and falls in love with Wil Jamieson who holds the key to a secret war between rival factions of "poets." In order to survive, Wil must journey to the toxically decimated town of Broken Hill, Australia, as the world crashes toward a Tower of Babel event which would leave all language meaningless.

Published: New York :, The Penguin Press,, 2013.
ISBN: 1594205388
Branch Call Number: F BAR
Characteristics: 390 pages ;,25 cm


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Jan 12, 2015

LIKE BUT NOT THE ONE rec RNZ review, rec Christinareads LT, rec AnneLT

Dec 22, 2014
  • Chapel_Hill_KenMc rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

Suspenseful, disturbing, and original world where words really do have power.

Oct 29, 2014
  • 0Charlie rated this: 4 stars out of 5.

I was pleased that I got more than I bargained for after reading the description. It was much more than a girl with strange powers goes to a special school. That was only a small part of the story. It took a long while to start piecing together the two story lines (an Aha! moment). It was exciting to have the "magical" power be words and knowledge. It has battles, love, schooling, betrayal, world dominion - something for everyone. Recommended for older teens and adults who enjoy sci-fi/ fantasy fiction.

Mar 14, 2014
  • LibraryK8 rated this: 4 stars out of 5.

Emily and Wil's stories come together in an explosive and thrilling ending! I would recommend this to anyone who liked The Rook or Ready Player One.

Feb 16, 2014
  • pagetraveler rated this: 4 stars out of 5.

WAY more intense then I had anticipated! Creative story telling, but at times I was lost as to the sequence of events. By the end it was easy to figure out, but there were a couple of rough part towards the end.

Jan 26, 2014
  • mexicanadiense rated this: 3.5 stars out of 5.

I was perilously close to putting this one down while reading the relatively generic thriller/kidnapping fare of the first chapter but now I'm glad I kept plowing on, the second narrative arc about the recruitment of a teenaged runaway really drew me in, though the temporal bounce-around throughout might be aggravating for some. Lastly, the epilogue was most unfortunate, but on the whole, a worthwhile read by a talented young author.

Jan 02, 2014
  • Bhulsey rated this: 4.5 stars out of 5.

Max Barry has done it again with a rip-roaring sci-fi tale of love, language, control, freedom, paranoia, thought, and violence in his latest novel Lexicon.

Lexicon is a brilliant work, fast paced and full of interestingly broken characters. Barry's insights into freedom and information and vocabulary are intriguing and the various shifts in time make things interesting to follow. But the ride is well worth it. Highly recommended

Nov 27, 2013
  • JimLoter rated this: 4 stars out of 5.

Were I 20 years younger I would have read this and then immediately rushed to grab books on Peirce's semiotics, Searle's speech-act theory, and Wittgenstein's philosophy of language to produce a conference paper titled something like "Locution, Linguistics, and Lexicon: Words and Gender Power Dynamics in Max Barry's Fiction." But I'm not a graduate student anymore so I can read books for pleasure now! And, boy, did I enjoy this book. It's as if Barry is one of the "poets" from the novel and he has learned the exact combination of words and narrative elements to cause all of my critical defenses to fall. The central premise is that words are not simply signs for communication; they are containers of meaning that have a neurological effect on people's brains. Gifted and specially-trained individuals - "poets" - learn to size people up psychologically and then utter the specific "words" that cause an individual to drop all defenses and become utterly persuadable. Great power can be derived from this ability, and power corrupts.... The story unfolds in a dual-narrative fashion - one thread follows Wil and Tom as they are chased by an unknown organization bent on destroying Wil (free will?) because of his peculiar immunity to the poets' powers. The second follows a 16-year-old runaway girl named Emily who is recruited and sent to a special school to train to become a poet (shades of "Harry Potter" and Lev Grossman). Of course, the two threads intertwine and collide, and this is handled in a very clever and satisfying way. My only complaints are minor. I would have liked to have learned more about the character of Yeats, especially his belief in god and love of shoes (which may be related in some way I'm unclear on). The dialogue between Wil and Tom ran on a little at times and got somewhat annoying. Finally, I think the ending "cheated" a bit, though nothing too egregious. Overall, I was quite taken by this book, but that may have something to do with my predilection for the underlying premise and themes of linguistic power. Nevertheless, I highly recommend it - especially for the highly verbal among us.

Sep 03, 2013
  • markjbarton rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

Agree with ParnassusReads. I wish the "flashbacks" had been called out better. 5-stars because the story is so unique. Poets, power of words to control, sci-fi.

I think I liked it?

I also was wishing for more on the school, the how and especially the "why" they were doing it!

The bad language wasn't necessary to tell the story either.

A good, weekend read.

Jul 11, 2013
  • ParnassusReads rated this: 3 stars out of 5.

The plot and pacing of this book is good, though it does get a little confusing in the middle when the two timelines seem to merge, but don't really, and you realize you're in an extended flashback, which becomes kind of annoying. The writing is swift and sure and the characters likeable, if not necessarily relatable. My big disappointment with this book was that it wasn't half as clever as it should have been (and the reader hoped it would be). The ultimate message (yes, there is a direct one, lamely) is also the title of a popular Celine Dion song.

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Mar 14, 2014
  • LibraryK8 rated this: 4 stars out of 5.

This story starts with a bang! Wil Jamieson is grabbed by two guys in an airport bathroom. They stick a needle in his eye, ask him a bunch of questions and tell him if he wants to live he has to come with them. Wil gathers from their conversation that he in an important piece in a war they are fighting. Wars have casualties, and before they escape the airport one kidnapper and Wil's girlfriend are dead. Barely trusting Eliot, Wil takes off cross country as a fugitive, trying to discover what makes him so special.

Years earlier in San Francisco, Emily is a resourceful teen, living of her skills as monte dealer. Emily uses her skills of persuasion to push her marks to get in the game, and raise the stakes. When she is offered her a chance at a prestigious school on the east coast to learn a much more deadly form of persuasion she jumps at the chance.

The School teaches Emily an craft based on ancient languages and brain anatomy. Like computers our brains run on an operating system, and like computers the wrong line of code and crack it open. At The School, Emily learns the words and sounds that can hack our heads, and leave us vulnerable to persuasion. But with great power comes great responsibility and when a Bare Word is released in Australia it kills nearly 3,000 people, and Emily is held accountable.


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