Wednesday’s Review ~ Lexicon by Max Barry

Cover of Lexicon
Lexicon by Max Barry

Published by: The Penguin Press

Published on: June 18, 2013

Page Count: 400

Genre: Fiction

My Reading Format: Hardcover I received in the 1st Book Riot Quarterly Box.

Available Formats: Hardcover, Paperback (as of 4/1/2014), eBook, and Audiobook

Summary from the Publisher:

At an exclusive training school at an undisclosed location outside Washington, D.C., students are taught to control minds, to wield words as weapons. The very best graduate as “poets” and enter a nameless organization of unknown purpose. Recruited off the street, whip-smart Emily Ruff quickly learns the one key rule: never allow another person to truly know you. Emily becomes the school’s most talented prodigy, until she makes the catastrophic mistake of falling in love.

My Review

I bought Lexicon last summer after seeing Rebecca Schinsky’s gushing tweets. Then, like almost all of the books I buy, it sat on my shelf. Fast forward this past December. The inaugural Book Riot Quarterly box arrived with a second copy of Lexicon. It was the same book, but it had something my first copy didn’t – hand written Post It Notes from the author shedding light on 10 different sections of the book. Immediately I was enamored all over again. I love having autographed books, but I’ve never had one with the author’s annotations. I hate a spoiler, so I decided right then and there that I wouldn’t read a Post It Note until I got to that page in the book. I also have little patience, so I had to read it ASAP. Over my Christmas break, I dove in with gusto. Not only did I have to know what Max Barry wrote just for me (and the other Quarterly Box subscribers), but I had to figure out who would love to be gifted the copy that had been sitting on my shelf for months. I was a reader on a mission.

What a mission reading Lexicon was. The story was unique and engaging, the writing made me smack my lips, the characters leaped off of the page and danced in my head. Even the sex scenes were good. Reading this book was great fun, but it also made me think. The premise is that a group of people with a natural ability to persuade are hand picked and removed from society to learn the art of verbal manipulation. Those who successfully complete this program become “poets” and have their own special mission in our world. Reading this book reminded me of the power of words. Words classify and describe the tangible and the intangible. They also have emotional power. The idea that a word or a grouping of words could override my person and how I normally would act gave me pause. I spent a great deal of time thinking about the role advertising plays in our society. They tap into the emotional connection people people have with words and images to sell their products. I’d like to say otherwise, but I’m certainly not a real life “poet.” I need do some evaluation of the things I want and why I want them.

I cannot recommend Lexicon enough. If you love science fiction, writing, words, or just a damn good story, don’t pass up this book. If you’re ever in my neck of the woods, you can even see my copy with the beloved yellow Post Its. You’d better bring a pair of white gloves if you want to touch it, though. This book is most definitely in my “Precious!” category. Since I’m nice, here’s little sample.


Pick up this book. Read it. Love it. Live it. You’ll never regret it.


  • At 2014.03.19 09:20, bermudaonion (Kathy) said:

    I would have had trouble resisting those Post-It notes!

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    • At 2014.03.19 10:44, Ti said:

      I can’t imagine the author doing that for every shipment. You probably are one of the few that received the book. Lucky duck!

      I have to tell you, this book did not appeal to me at all when I saw it and I do love science fiction and words. I liked it even less when everyone was gushing about it, but I trust your judgement. I know you wouldn’t say it was great unless it was. Maybe I will add it to my list.

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      • At 2014.03.19 11:54, Jess - A Book Hoarder said:

        Aww man it would be so cool to gave a book with author notes. Jealous!

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        • At 2014.03.27 12:54, Kailana said:

          I got this after hearing great reviews. Now to find time to read it!

          (Required, will not be published)

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