This book was definitely one of a kind. Max Barry took all my beliefs about the power words have on us and turned it into a thriller that blew my mind. All of this while keeping us entertained with such an interesting premise. What if there truly a series of words that have the power to destroy us? Depending on our mental state, language is possibly a potent weapon most of us don’t really value the influence of and don’t understand the capability it has of destroying us. We wield the power to jab each other, hurt each other, cause pain or create happiness. What if there were words that we could use to take over another person’s mind? Does the idea truly seem far-fetched? It makes sense to me.
“For each person there is a sentence – a series of words – which has the power to destroy them.” – Philip K. Dick
It was fast-paced, predictable enough to make me feel smart but not enough to piss me off. It was exhilarating and infectious. There could have been some more character development but overall I was not disappointed in the book. The guy in the book should have been the main protagonist in the book rather than the girl. The story should have analyzed why he was unique in being the only one in the world that could resist the power of words. Also, the antagonist’s motivations weren’t clear enough. An attempt to make him a religious zealot, a cancer patient and a person with just a shitty personality seemed like a Frankensteinish method of stitching up an antagonist that would piss most people of and cause most readers to root for the protagonist. It wasn’t required, but it was a small flaw in the overall amazingness of the book.
I loved how it spun the history of the spoken language from what started in Babylon when God was pissed off and how he split humanity by giving us different languages, with the thrill of a chase. I believe in today’s day and age, most problems are caused by our lack of understanding. If only we could communicate without the barriers of language, we would be so much better off as a whole. Language has a serious binding power. It tethers us together. Whether we are from different regions, different religions or different color or race, language gives us an anchor that knits us people together. I understand this, more so now than I ever did before, living in a country where a common language draws us people together like moths to light. Overhearing someone speak the same language as you works to provide you with a base; it acts as a linchpin that keeps people together and provides comfort to those that feel like they are stranded on an island.
The book definitely had some seriously awesome quotes that resonated with me. I definitely enjoy books with unique premises such as this and am always on the lookout for more. Give this a try if you are looking for some books that won’t bore you out of your mind.
“It’s defining yourself through the eyes of another. It’s coming to know a human being on a level so intimate that you lose any meaningful distinction between you, and you carry the knowledge that you are insufficient without her every day for twenty years, until she drives an animal transport at you, and you shoot her. It’s that.”
Excerpt From: Max Barry. “Lexicon.”
I guess I felt this quote meant something to me because I was in the throes of passion – ok I am totally exaggerating – but it meant something to me because there was a person I was starting to feel this way about. Obviously, since then, those feelings have calmed from being a torrential downpour to a soft patter of drizzle on a window on a rainy day.
Here’s another something I found interesting on some book’s Goodreads blurb:
In love we find out who we want to be.
In war we find out who we are.
– The Nightingale
Obviously I don’t know what its like to go to war. I was more interested in the love bit.
“Then he discovered God. It had been terribly alarming… He began to see the divine in everything, from the circumvolved fall of a leaf to the fortuitous arrival of an elevator.”
Excerpt From: Max Barry. “Lexicon.”
This is me. This is how I see God. In everything. In the smell of a flower, in the fluffy tufts of clouds, in the night sky filled with stars, in people when they’re not aware that I am watching. He is everywhere. He is inside me. I see Him like no one else does. He is my friend. He is my partner.
Overall this book was great.