How do I begin this? Better yet, how do I talk about this book without spoilers? Lexicon
took forever for me to read (embarrassingly so!), but it was not a bad book at all (4 out of 5 stars? Come on, now). Although it was only 400 pages (at least, in my e-reader it is), it felt like it was over a thousand pages. This is not in any way a knock against Max Barry, whose writing I’ve enjoyed since I first read Jennifer Government
in the fall/winter of 2008. Instead, it’s a compliment. The book is weighty in its content, and is very thorough.Lexicon
spins a beautiful story between just a few main characters, Wil and Emily, and spins them together in a beautifully spiraling story that weaves past and present together almost seamlessly.
The novel begins right in the middle of the story, with a man named Wil who has hardly any background--we come to find out that he can’t really remember who he is, although we aren’t sure why. Next, we meet Emily, a young teen hustler, earning money for herself with card tricks. What follows is the story of Emily’s education at a covert academy and beyond, and Wil’s journey to find out exactly who he is and how he fits into the bigger picture.
To say anything more about the plot would be to invite massive spoilers, so I’ll leave it at that.
The novel revolves around words--how they’re used, perceived, how connotations change over time, how languages evolve, etc. It’s actually brilliant in its evolution. I’m not just saying this because I really enjoy Max Barry’s work, but also because he executes such an idea flawlessly. The only true issues I had were of the formatting variety, and I chalked a lot of it up to my copy being an e-ARC, and not a final version.
I have only one more thing to say about this novel, and it’s the pattern with which it’s written. Barry’s format is brilliant, at first leaving each character with his or her own large chunk of narrative that, as the story winds towards its climax, gradually becomes shorter and shorter until the two converge. It’s a style choice I’ve seen before, mostly with Stephen King’s work (especially in The Dark Half
and Needful Things
), and the result is a sense of urgency and a sense of the fast pace of the novel that, if another style had been used, would probably not be there.
To put it mildly, I really enjoyed Lexicon
. I plan on revisiting Jennifer Government
, as well as Barry’s other novels, in short time.I received a copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley. The opinions herein are my own, and were not influenced by the author or publisher in any way.