Lexicon by Max Barry (Hodder & Stoughton)
I have always loved books and reading, mostly because I love words – the power and influence that they can exert. This is probably why I found this particular novel so rewarding. Words can comfort; a line from a close friend can bring clarity; a choice remark can wound, never to be taken back. But what if words held real power?

What if words could – quite literally – bring you to your knees? Max Barry’s thriller Lexicon proposes just that.

The story features Wil Parke, a man who is being pursued relentlessly because of something he knows but cannot remember.

The other protagonist, Emily Ruff, is a strong willed young lady who joins an organisation of so called ‘poets’ – people who can manipulate others through the use of language.

Both of their stories are woven together as the tale heads toward a town called Broken Hill – a place where something so terrible was unleashed two years ago that no one survived.

The novel is fraught with action right from the first pulsating chapter to the very last sentence. It is also punctuated with humorous scenes which serve to alleviate the tense atmosphere. Yet there is much more to Lexicon than meets the eye.

The author raises relevant questions about the manner in which information reaches individuals in a society where the internet can find anything – true or untrue.

All those online polls, the amount of times one ‘likes’ something on Facebook, a carefully worded advert, the way a news report is phrased – all these and much more combine to subtly manipulate us to think in a certain way, to sympathise with a certain group of people, to react accordingly.

How much of it is genuinely our own free will?

Barry hints at conspiracy theories which many of us believe exist, and expands on them in order for us to relate to the characters’ unfolding dilemmas. In doing so, he recognises an aspect of our society which none of us can escape: the overwhelming amount of information at our fingertips, and – more importantly – who controls it all.

As Lexicon dashes inexorably toward its thrilling conclusion, the reader is drawn further and further into a world where one’s identity is not absolute; where one can’t even be sure if you can trust yourself; a world where words are the ultimate weapons.

Barry has penned the classic page turner – a riveting compelling read which you do not want to put aside until you know exactly how it ends.

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