Narrator: Heather Corrigan, Zach Appelman
Published by Penguin Audio on 2013
Length: 12 hrs and 36 mins
Genres: Mystery/Thriller, Young Adult
Source: AudioBookJukeBox.com, Submitted
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At an exclusive school somewhere outside of Arlington, Virginia, students aren't taught history, geography, or mathematics - at least not in the usual ways. Instead, they are taught to persuade. Here the art of coercion has been raised to a science. Students harness the hidden power of language to manipulate the mind and learn to break down individuals by psychographic markers in order to take control of their thoughts. The very best will graduate as "poets": adept wielders of language who belong to a nameless organization that is as influential as it is secretive.
Whip-smart orphan Emily Ruff is making a living running a three-card Monte game on the streets of San Francisco when she attracts the attention of the organization's recruiters. She is flown across the country for the school's strange and rigorous entrance exams, where, once admitted, she will be taught the fundamentals of persuasion by Brontë, Eliot, and Lowell - who have adopted the names of famous poets to conceal their true identities. For in the organization, nothing is more dangerous than revealing who you are: Poets must never expose their feelings lest they be manipulated. Emily becomes the school's most talented prodigy until she makes a catastrophic mistake: She falls in love.
Meanwhile, a seemingly innocent man named Wil Jamieson is brutally ambushed by two strange men in an airport bathroom. Although he has no recollection of anything they claim he's done, it turns out Wil is the key to a secret war between rival factions of poets and is quickly caught in their increasingly deadly crossfire. As the two narratives converge, the shocking work of the poets is fully revealed, the body count rises, and the world crashes toward a Tower of Babel event which would leave all language meaningless.
©2013 Max Barry (P)2013 Penguin Audio
The only thing that made me want to give Lexicon a listen was seeing the title on a list of noteworthy ST/Fantasy/Horror books at My Bookish Ways, then seeing the cover, as I am one of those who will, no matter how many time I am told not to, have my first impressions of a book by its cover. Not sure if you are like me where the cover of a book will influence your choice of whether to listen or not to extremes like me. Then reading the publishers summary and I had to give it a listen, I saw the audiobook released on Audible.com and something surged inside of me and I just had to purchase it. Thankfully it was also available through AudioBook Jukebox‘s reviewer program and it was like the stars aligned and it was meant to be.
Lexicon is full of action, suspense, love, awe and wonder. I really enjoyed listening to this recent release from Penguin Audio. Imagine that people could control others by simply uttering a seemingly random sequence of words, words that breakdown your built in defenses and allow others to dictate your actions. Now imagine that there is a secret organization train young people with heightened abilities of persuasion. Lexicon felt like two somewhat similar stories that finally collide and many of the questions that arose were finally answered. Full of complex characters and equally complex situations, I was on the edge of my seat, snarling at those that would wish to interrupt. I had little idea of what was really happening until I did and hit myself on my forehead with the palm of my head, Duh! Barry has done a great job creating a unique twist on the age old subject matter of wizards, warlocks and witches, with a very interesting modern spin. I will be on the lookout for more from Max Barry because if he can keep creating jaw-dropping stories like this one I may not need anything else.
I really enjoyed the dual narration done by Zach Appelman and Heather Corrigan, their combined efforts made the telling of Lexicon very similar to Legend. While both are adding their part to the story, every time that the narrators change so does the point of view. Both are very powerful speakers that create a presence in your mind and their voices fit well with what I imagined each to be. I have to say that Appelman would win in the character differentiation contest while Corrigan would win an emotional energy contest.
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