Wow, did I have a hard time with this book. I thought I would love it. I wanted to love it. I still think I’m supposed to love it. The premise is pretty amazing. The characters kind of fascinate me. So why did I moan every time I picked up the book to keep reading?
Max Berry’s Lexicon sounds like the coolest book. A secret society trains young people on a mysterious way to control others by using words. Not real words, a gobbledygook mishmash of sounds that are reminiscent of what an infant might express when trying to learn how to speak, but words nonetheless. I’m still not clear on why their gobbledygook can control minds, but just go with it, it can. The mind-controlling people are called poets, they take on poet code names after graduation (like Yeats, Eliot, Woolf, etc.), and they are a threat to society…or they help society?
This thriller is propelled by a poet gone rogue, other poets looking for her, and a lot of shifting loyalties that will make you question again and again the goodness of the poets and what they do.
All of this sounds great, so I’m having a hard time putting my finger on why I didn’t like this. Maybe it’s because I’m still not clear on what these poets do and why they are so important? And what is the history of this secret society and its training academy? Or maybe it’s because I couldn’t buy into the idea that the gobbledygook they spew would actually control minds? Or could it be that the shift from the power of words to the power of love was kind of annoying? Or maybe it was just how this book was organized, with great action scenes followed by some boring down time?
I suppose all of those things bothered me, but they don’t seem like enough for me to not like it, because I certainly have believed in unclear secret societies and odd powers in the past. So I think I’m going to chalk this up to poor execution. The whole idea is great, and the book starts off really strong with a fabulous rescue mission in an airport, but the rest of the book never lived up to what I felt like I was promised with such a fabulous opening scene.
Many other people really like this book though, our own Jodi among them, so hey, maybe you’ll love it. I didn’t, but if you’re looking for something completely different, you really will find it here. Or you’ll find it in Neal Stephenson’s Snow Crash, which this seemed to be kind of a rip off of, and not as good as.