Lexicon by Max Barry

Lexicon - Max Barry

As a lover of language - how we use it to not only communicate but change the world around us - this book was immediately interesting to me. Words are important, a sentiment uttered more than once in this book and implied throughout. To put it bluntly, words mean things, and should be chosen with care and respect.


I'm not even quite sure what I was expecting of this book anymore, but it does start out running - and you better be prepared to chase after to keep up. You're thrust right into the action, on a bathroom floor as Wil gets a needle shoved into his eye and questions hammered at him. Then there's shooting and running and all sorts of other things being thrown at you. I will say that the book hardly had a slow moment. There was a 10% section somewhere near the middle that didn't seem to be bursting with fights, but that was it. Otherwise it was non-stop. Unfortunately, this didn't exactly appeal to me. I enjoy some good action, but it's characters that I care about most and here the characters never came alive for me.


Honestly, I find I have trouble even describing them. Instead of the actions of the world shaping them, and their choices, I felt like they were players on a stage with pre-determined events. They moved from one event to the next. It was the events that were important here, not the characters.


The language aspect, which I was really looking forward to, was mostly glossed over, or used as a platform to talk about social media, media bias, and speak about society today in general. I enjoyed these thoughts objectively - I've thought them before; that I make too much of myself available on social media and the internet, enabling companies to compile data about me to better sell to me, or convince me of whatever they want. With targeted advertisements flooding websites, it's not hard to believe some of the things the Poets do or plan. I liked this in the same way I like a good debate though, in person. It's interesting and fascinating - but written down it just becomes a bit dry. And these moments - either clippings from news sources about events in the book, or messages on internet discussion boards, or comments/discussion from readers served only to slow the book down and bog down the action. Interesting, but ultimately it felt redundant, and I felt that time could have been better used elsewhere.


More time spent on explaining what the hell is going on would have been appreciated. The book jumps from character POV to character POV, with barely a word that it's happening. It jumps from timeline to timeline to timeline, we're working with about 4 different and distinct timelines here, and it sometimes took me pages to figure out which timeline I was in. I spent the first 30% of the book with no clue as to any of the basic structure of the world, the motives of any of the characters, or the reason things were happening. When I finally did begin to get an idea, I felt like the book was doling out information like it was a precious commodity. Perhaps that's fitting in a book about the importance of words, but I didn't like feeling like a mark that was being 'compromised' - in case you're wondering, they compromise you and make you do whatever they want.


I think it kind of succeeded though because I did end up finishing the book, despite my wanting to DNF it several times. I almost did the last time at 80% of the way in, when I could barely make myself care how it all turned out. I did though, and I can't really determine if I'm glad or not. After the hell the characters were put through in the book it all tied up a bit too neatly for me.


Perhaps this is a case of this book just not being for me. It's possible that what I was hoping for and what I got were simply on widely separate ends of the spectrum. I can't pretend that I enjoyed this book though. I vacillated between confusion, boredom and irritation too much throughout.