Thursday, January 16, 2014

Lexicon - Max Barry

*excited fists, eyebrows*

This was so good, you guys.

*pauses to regain dignity, fails*

I don't know if it's because everything I've read lately has been Not Great, or Great But Not What I Wanted To Read Right Now So I Didn't Enjoy It AT ALL (I'm sorry, Ancillary Justice. I can totally see your potential, though), but I loved Lexicon hard.

So. Wil is attacked and kidnapped by some guys because he's 'the outlier,' only HE doesn't think he is, but if he ISN'T they'll kill him right now, and as they're fleeing, a POET catches up to them and says some garbley words and then one of the kidnappey guys shoots himself in the head because the power of suggestion.

Meanwhile, over here, Emily is a streetwise kid approached by a dodgy character and made an offer - to be flown to a Special School

Sort of, but without mutants. So…not at all, really.

and given a test which, if she FAILS she'll be returned to her street slightly richer, and if she PASSES she'll be given An Education (not the Peter Sarsgaard kind, more's the pity).

And then back to Wil, who is (he discovers) the sole survivor of a bareword - a powerful word that laid waste to an entire town, because words are power, and with the right kind of training you can learn to pinpoint someone's character and speak the correct arrangement of syllables that will ease past their brain's defenses and make them do something like shoot themselves in the head.

You lack the proper training, Brit.

So on the one hand, Wil is being chased by people with scary powers, helped along by a man he has almost no reason to trust, and on the other hand, Emily obviously passes the test and, while not great at following rules, shows potential for whatever Special Skill the Special School is trying to teach her, and because no one wants to read about the sound of one hand clapping, the two hands eventually come together and omg.

It's very tense. I usually skim over action sequences like they were descriptions of scenery, but they are sparing and used to great effect here. I also waffled on which way I wanted the end to go (you know I love happy endings, but also total manor house conflagrations and/or everyone dying of plague) and it just…exactly right.

Language! Action! Romance! A shocking amount of corpses, really! Very good, all in all.

Eight and a half caterpillars.


Chelsea said...

I ADORED this book! I just wanted to pick it up and cover it in chocolate sauce and sprinkles so it could be more even delicious than it's regular state of existence. lol. Or something like that.

Jenny @ Reading the End said...

Many caterpillars from me too! I surprise-super-enjoyed this book and stayed up very late to finish it. Why has not Max Barry written 10.000 books instead of only a few?

Megs said...

Your feelings about this one were so very much like mine, and I LIKE that. With the stuff...and then the corpses...and then the end stuff. All that.

jim-panse said...

aaand that's how a book gets on my to read list!

Tikabelle said...

Manor house conflagrations and plague are the BEST.

I have this on my library request list, and I am excited about it!

Lindsey said...

Yes! I loved this one too. I was very nervous about the ending and I think I didn't love it at first. But when I thought about it for a while, it was really the best way for Barry to take the story.