I picked up Lexicon by Max Barry several years ago after spotting it in Barnes and Noble and being immediately drawn in by the title. I am obsessed with language and words and this book and its premise seemed like a perfect “Rose book.” I remember jumping into it as soon as I could, excited for this book. And was almost immediately let down. With more f-bombs in the first ten pages than I could count and a completely confusing storyline, I didn’t last very long the first time I read this book. I got through maybe fifty pages before sticking a bookmark in it and never reading it again.
Until I decided I was going to read all the books I own in one year. Which meant I had to face off with those books I did not finish. Lexicon is the first of those books. And boy, was it rough. I got through those first pages that had originally led me to put it down. They weren’t so bad. The middle actually got pretty good. I was really enjoying it. The world of “the poets” was fascinating and I loved reading about this concept that Barry had come up with. The plot built up well, I enjoyed tracing and connecting the storylines. But then it hit the climax, the major plot twist™, aaaanndd everything fell apart. From about page 300 on (in a 387 page book), I found myself caring less and less about how Lexicon ended. Which I hated, because briefly, I did enjoy Lexicon. I got really into it, was flying through the book, and then wham! Drag-city (and there were no queens in sight).
Lexicon is, in short, about words. Words have a much bigger effect than we could ever fathom. And the poets know it. They practice that effect every single day, in they way they operate, educate, and recruit. They recruit Emily Ruff off the streets and soon discover that they will regret ever bringing her into their world. And then there’s Wil Parke. He survived an event he should have never survived, and seems immune to everything the poets do. Through these two lives, connected in a mysterious sway, the poets are fighting to get a word back. A word that causes destruction. But what are their intentions? Where do Emily and Wil fit into all of this? Who is Woolf?
The premise of this book is really cool. I would have loved to read a book more focused on the poets themselves, their background, their history, and the inner workings of the organization. As it is, you really have no backstory for any of these characters, except kind of Emily. You don’t really know who any of these people are, and you’re expected to care about what happens to them. But, like I mentioned above, my main issues came with the last hundred or so pages of the book. Everything unravels after the plot twist. The book starts jumping everywhere even more than it already did, and it just feels kind of… pointless. The resolution was not satisfying, it did not make sense, and I just was not invested in it. And if you know me at all, it’s very hard for me to say that. Books are my life. I have been a bookworm since I first learned how to read. And I hate giving a book such a negative review. But Lexicon simply was not a good book.
Lexicon by Max Barry gets 2/5 stars.