Book Review: Lexicon by Max Barry

LexiconLexicon by Max Barry

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Were this the first book in a series, as opposed to a standalone entry I might’ve rated it a little higher. But it’s not, so I won’t.

I’ll say up front that I don’t have a problem recommending Lexicon, as it’s an easy, quick* read, that won’t annoy you with what it does. I ultimately liked it, though my review may make it seem otherwise. Simply put, I just didn’t enjoy it nearly as much as I did the idea of it.

Lexicon takes place in the modern day United States and Australia, and in this world the human mind can be controlled or subverted by certain individuals with an aptitude for it. People that show the skill, or talent are recruited by a private school in the D.C. area, where they learn to hone their skills, and maybe more interestingly their defenses. For the sake of spoilers, that’s all the table setting I’ll do for this book. If that premise doesn’t sound interesting, it’s probably best to move on to something else.

I said Lexicon wouldn’t bother you with what it does, and while that was true for me, my biggest gripe lay in what I felt the author didn’t do enough. He gifted us a really interesting mind control element, which for lack of a better term, is essentially a magic system, but he never used it in a way that actually felt satisfying to me. For much of my reading time, I kept expecting this ability to be demonstrated in some unique, other-than-obvious way, but much to my disappointment, it never was. There were also other elements of the book that only scratched the surface of their potential, in my opinion, such as clandestine organizations, or shady international characters being introduced late and removed far to abruptly, etc. One last thing that should probably be mentioned is that the timeline can be a bit confusing, as at times the story is being told in the present tense, and then other times it shifts to the past tense, without warning. This was sometimes disorienting, but I think that was intentional, and eventually I grew used to it.

Addressing 1 or 2 of these issues, would’ve made a big difference in my opinion of Mr. Barry’s book. As I said, overall it’s enjoyable, as long as you don’t expect too much of it.

Concept: A
Execution: B- to C+

*I took almost a month to finish it, but you could easily start the book on a Monday, and be looking for your next read by the weekend.

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