Book review: Lexicon

Lexicon by Max Barry

I enjoy reading, as evidenced by the number of book reviews on my blog. So it’s been great to see my two older daughters develop a regular reading habit. Our reading interests aren’t completely aligned, but there’s enough overlap that we occasionally recommend books to each other.

When I do get a recommendation from my duaghters, I do my best to move it toward the top of my reading list. Such was the case with Lexicon by Max Barry. The book had been languishing on my reading list for quite some time. My daughter Courtney read it recently, and given how highly she spoke of it, I decided it was time to move it up the queue.

I’ll admit that for the longest time I was a bit hesitant to read Lexicon. I had read another Max Barry novel, Company. While I found it witty and entertaining, it wasn’t one of my favorites. It was more of a light, satirical read on the state of corporate affairs which didn’t fit into my normal science fiction genre. Let’s just say that Lexicon is completely different, to put it mildly.

With Lexicon, Barry drops you right into the action. He masterfully alternates between timelines and the main characters point of view. I found myself immediately sucked into the story and had a hard time putting the book down.

At a high level, the story is very similar to Neal Stephenson’s Snow Crash, which I just finished reading. The premise of both books revolves using language as a weapon to control and manipulate people. The biggest difference between the two books is the pace. Lexicon moves faster and kept me more engaged. If I had to choose between the two, I’d give the nod to Lexicon.

I liked it so much, that I’ve put Lexicon in my Must Read category of books. It’s a great action-packed, thriller. It’s intriguing and makes you think about the power of language. Could it be possible to trigger reactions in people through the use of language? If so, what would happen if you could control people to the point of being able to manipulate them to do your bidding?

If you’ve read Snow Crash and enjoyed it, read Lexicon. And if you haven’t read Snow Crash, read Lexicon first. You won’t be disappointed.