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0 out of 50 out of 50 out of 50 out of 50 out of 5 0.00 (0 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Max Barry Narrator: Heather Corrigan, Zach Appelman Publisher: Penguin Random House Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date:
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At an exclusive school somewhere outside of Arlington, Virginia, students aren’t taught history, geography, or mathematics—at least not in the usual ways. Instead, they are taught to persuade. Here the art of coercion has been raised to a science. Students harness the hidden power of language to manipulate the mind and learn to break down individuals by psycho-graphic markers in order to take control of their thoughts. The very best will graduate as “poets”: adept wielders of language who belong to a nameless organization that is as influential as it is secretive.

Whip-smart orphan Emily Ruff is making a living running a three-card Monte game on the streets of San Francisco when she attracts the attention of the organization’s recruiters. She is flown across the country for the school’s strange and rigorous entrance exams, where, once admitted, she will be taught the fundamentals of persuasion by Brontë, Eliot, and Lowell—who have adopted the names of famous poets to conceal their true identities. For in the organization, nothing is more dangerous than revealing who you are: Poets must never expose their feelings lest they be manipulated. Emily becomes the school’s most talented prodigy until she makes a catastrophic mistake. She falls in love. 

Meanwhile, a seemingly innocent man named Wil Jamieson is brutally ambushed by two strange men in an airport bathroom. Although he has no recollection of anything they claim he’s done, it turns out Wil is the key to a secret war between rival factions of poets and is quickly caught in their increasingly deadly crossfire. Pursued relentlessly by people with powers he can barely comprehend and protected by the very man who first attacked him, Wil discovers that everything he thought he knew about his past was fiction. In order to survive, must journey to the decimated town of Broken Hill, Australia, to discover who he is and why an entire town was blown off the map. 

As the two narratives converge, the shocking work of the poets is fully revealed, the body count rises, and the world crashes toward a Tower of Babel event which would leave all language meaningless. Max Barry’s most spellbinding and ambitious novel yet, Lexicon is a brilliant thriller that explores language, power, identity, and our capacity to love—whatever the cost.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “Dazzling and spectacularly inventive. A novel that jams itself sideways into your brain and stays there.”

    Mike Carey, New York Times bestselling author of Thor: Wolves of the North

  • “Best thing I’ve read in a long, long time.”

    Hugh Howey, New York Times bestselling author of Wool

  • “About as close you can get to the perfect cerebral thriller: searingly smart, ridiculously funny, and fast as hell. Lexicon reads like Elmore Leonard high out of his mind on Snow Crash.”

    Lev Grossman, New York Times bestselling author of The Magicians and The Magician King

  • Lexicon grabbed me with the opening lines and never let go. An absolutely thrilling story, featuring an array of compelling characters in an eerily credible parallel society, punctuated by bouts of laugh-out-loud humor.”

    Chris Pavone, New York Times bestselling author of The Expats

  • “An extraordinarily fast, funny, cerebral thriller.”

    Time

  • “[An] ambitious satirical thriller…amuses as much as it shocks.”

    Publishers Weekly

  • “A scary and satisfying blend of thriller, dystopia, and horror.”

    Library Journal

  • “An absolutely first-rate, suspenseful thriller with convincing characters who invite readers’ empathy and keep them turning pages until the satisfying conclusion.”

    Booklist (starred review)

  • “An up-all-night thriller for freaks and geeks who want to see their wizards all grown up in the real world and armed to the teeth in a bloody story.”

    Kirkus Reviews

  • “Insanely good. Dark and twisted and sweet and humane all at once.”

    Lauren Beukes, author of Zoo City and The Shining Girls

  • “I don’t know how you could craft a better weekend read than this novel of international intrigue and weaponized Chomskian linguistics. It’s the perfect mix of philosophical play and shotgun-inflected chase scenes.”

    Austin Grossman, author of Soon I Will be Invincible

  • Kirkus Reviews’ Best Books: 10 Best Novels for Summer Reading, 2013
  • Selected for the July 2013 Indie Next List
  • Winner of the 2014 YALSA Alex Award
  • A 2013 NPR Best Book
  • A 2013 Booklist Editors’ Choice for Young Adults
  • A 2013 School Library Journal Best Book
  • A 2013 Huffington Post Best Book
  • Winner of the 2013 Aurealis Award for Best Science Fiction Novel
  • A 2013 Aurealis Award Finalist for Best Fantasy Novel
  • A 2014 John W. Campbell Memorial Award Finalist
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