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Review: Lexicon by Max Barry


Sticks and stones break bones.
Words kill.

They recruited Emily from the streets. They said it was because she’s good with words. They’ll live to regret it.

Wil survived something he shouldn’t have. But he doesn’t remember it. Now they’re after him and he doesn’t know why.

There’s a word, they say. It shouldn’t have got out. But it did. And they want it back…

My thoughts

Wow! This book was sooo good. I was completely surprised by this story. It came with amazing plot twists I didn’t see coming and was a lot darker than I thought it would be.

Action packed and fast paced

This story starts with a guy coming to, having a needle stuck into his eye and from there on it doesn’t get any better for him for a long while. Most of the story isn’t as disgusting as that but it doesn’t get any less thrilling. There are parts that provide background information that are important to the overall story and feel more like introduction, but even those are always interesting to read. They might not be as action packed but they are still fast paced.
Overall this story felt like its plot can be summarized as “everybody wants to kill everybody”. This book has a high rate of death, even though a lot of them are unimportant side characters we never really get to know. When reading this you have to brace yourself for a story about characters who don’t mind taking others down with them to get what they want. I was surprised how cold this sometimes was. Sometimes when a character died you started to care about, there wasn’t much time to feel sad, to feel the loss, but you’re just left shocked about what just happened, how fast and unemotional someone nice just died.

Unusual order of chapters

This book has an unusual way on how to tell this story that tells both about present and past. These chapters don’t follow a strict timeline but tell you things in a random order. The interesting thing is, that there are no indications in form of chapter headings or anything similar to tell you anything about the chapters’ position in the line of events. It will take you some time until you realize which chapters belong to the present, which ones to the past and to figure out the overall order of events. I loved this. It makes this story even more exciting than it already is. This way you learn about background stories, about peoples’ past, in the middle of the story through actual events and not only by them telling you about it or thinking back on it.

Lots of twists and turns

When you start reading this book you will be wondering where this is going, what the fundamental story is going to be about. With the help of the randomly ordered chapters you will slowly get to know what this is really about. And even then there is still a lot to discover and the story comes with some surprises and both predictable and unexpected plot twists.

Super cool concept

Using certain words to manipulate people already sounds like an awesome concept that can make for an interesting story. I was fascinated how Max Barry worked with this concept. He put so much thought into this, in how people think, how they can be manipulated. I loved how detailed all this was, how much there was to discover about it and especially all these ideas and thoughts about what words mean to us.

Interesting characters

What makes these characters so interesting is that you can’t trust a single person in this book because everyone has their secrets and is hiding who they really are. In order to not be manipulated themselves they can’t show any emotions in front of others, can’t reveal their personality. It was thrilling to read about these characters and slowly get to know them, learn facts about them that are actually true, learn about their true intentions. At least half of these characters surprised me when I learned who they really are and what role they played in the overall game.


Lexicon is exactly my kind of book. Max Barry took a pretty simply concept like words and what they mean to us and created this amazing and thrilling story around it. I like reading about darker characters instead of the good guys and this book has plenty of those. What mostly wowed me were all these unexpected events and that you have no idea what the actual story is going to be when you start this book. You only slowly get behind all this after you overcome the initial confusion due to the random order of events.

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  • Das mit den durcheinandergeworfenen Kapitel klingt anstrengend xD Mich nervt sowas schnell. Ich hatte neulich erst ein Buch, da hat die Perspektive jedes Kapitel (und manchmal auch innerhalb der Kapitel) gewechselt und man wusste am Anfang nie wer gerade erzählt (Ich-Erzähler) und dann hat man jemandem im Kopf und nach einer Seite stellt man dann anhand eines Hinweises fest, dass man die ganze Zeit von jemand anders gelesen hat und dann muss man es eigentlich noch mal lesen, weil man ja irgendwie falsch mitgedacht hat.
    Aber das mit den Wörtern und so klingt alles super. Hat es dich irgendwie an Mr. Penumbra erinnert oder ist es ganz anders?

    • Anstrengend ist es eigentlich gar nicht, ich fand es dagegen eher spannend raus zu finden,was wohin gehört. :D
      Ne, ist ganz was anderes als Penumbra.

      • Na ja, wenn man so miträtselt, ist es wahrscheinlich echt nicht schlecht, aber bei manchen Büchern ist es einfach nicht bedacht worden, hab ich das Gefühl und das verwirrt den Leser dann unnötig.

  • Wenn es so gut ist muss ich es wohl auf meiner Wunschliste etwas weiter nach oben schieben :D

    Ich finde die Idee dahinter ja echt spannend, aber mich haben die doch ziemlich weit auseinander gehenden Meinungen zum Buch noch ein bisschen abgeschreckt.

    Es klingt aber wirklich gut, auch wenn ich mir das mit der willkürlichen Reihenfolge der Kapitel gerade noch etwas schwierig vorstelle.

    Aber das weiße PB ist so schön, früher oder später wird das eh bei mir im Regal stehen… Wobei das HC auch echt schön ist :D

    • Mir gefällt das weiße Cover ja gar nicht :D Das HC find ich dafür einfach nur richtig geil.
      Das mit den Kapitel ist nicht schwierig, da sich da erstmal so liest als wären die in der richtigen Reihenfolge und du erst später merkst welche da nicht rein passen ;)

May 22, 2014