So I kind of liked Lexicon. *bounces involuntarily*
|I CAN'T I LOVED IT SO MUCH.|
The book opens in an airport bathroom, where two men have wrestled poor unsuspecting Wil Parke to the floor and slid a needle into his eyeball, all the while muttering about a secret war and an outlier and poets and IMMINENT DOOM. In a separate narrative, young runaway-turned-hustler Emily Ruff is recruited to a prestigious school where students are taught how to use words to persuade . . . but not just to persuade, to control. And—surprise!—these two plotlines turn out to have something or other to do with each other.
I’ve heard this story compared to X-Men, which I can definitely see, with the private school for “special youths” and the division between those who wield a mystical power (poets) and those who don’t even know it exists as an option (the rest of us). One big difference is that mutants don’t come into it. No one is born with the ready-made ability to use language as a weapon; you may have a natural proclivity toward persuading or resisting persuasion, but you still have to learn the skills and perfect them the hard way, hence the fancy school.
|And not everyone uses this training responsibly.|
As fantastical as the premise seems, the methods poets use to tiptoe past the human mind’s natural filters and issue commands that the recipient will unquestioningly follow kind of hold up. I’m sure Noam Chomsky could poke all kinds of holes in the scientific logic here, but to us plebes, it seems feasible enough. And that faint ring of real-life truth is the key ingredient in all the best sci-fi premises, I think.
In what is otherwise fairly straightforward prose, Max pops in a lot of snappy descriptions.
“There were silver plates with bite-size constructions of meat and bread and paste and whatever. She picked one up only because it got her out of this conversation. It was actually not bad. Weird, but not bad-weird. This was her whole day, on a cracker.” (p. 56)
“It was early but the sun was peeking above the buildings and seemed excited to be there.” (p. 65)
“[He] began to pull her machine apart. She felt a little sad. She was learning that people were just machines and it was working the other way a little, too.” (p. 99)Were you about to ask if there's romance? Of course there's romance. Although it's fairly no-nonsense and grounded, and interspersed between thrilling action sequences. Hear that, boys?