Archive for June, 2013


Lexicon by Max Barry

lexiconLexicon by Max Berry

Published June 18th, 2013 by Penguin Press

Buy this book at: Amazon / Books A Million / Book Depository / B&N

 

Disclaimer: The publisher provided me a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.  Thank you Penguin!

 

Synopsis:

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 psychographic 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 toxically decimated tow nof 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.

 

Rating: 4 star

 

Review:

The cover of this book drew me in immediately. It intrigued me because it was at once so obscure but also so promising. When I read the synopsis I knew this was a book that I needed to read. As a reader the idea that words have actual physical power is an interesting one. I can honestly say that I have never read another book with a similar premise. This book was awesome. If that’s as far as you get into reading this review, go buy this book, it really is worth it.

If you expect all your books to give you the answers up front, then this probably isn’t the right book for you. I didn’t really know what was going on or where the plot was going for at least half of this book. But I also didn’t really care. All of the action that was going on was so engrossing that I didn’t mind being completely lost at all. Then once the answers started coming together my mind was blown, it was so….twisted, so devious, so awesome.

I had something of a love/hate relationship with the characters in this book. Emily was fantastic, I felt an instant connection to her. She was a great character because she was so relatable that you just want to love her. But as the book progresses you wonder if you might have been horribly misled into rooting for the wrong person all together, and then you come back again to loving her. Emily twisted up my brain a little bit and I liked it. On the other side was Wil, I didn’t really like Wil. I thought that I would like Wil because he has no memory of anything that’s happened to him except that a bunch of people are after him for something inside his head. That idea interested me but ultimately Wil was just bland. He didn’t really do anything and questioned everything at the most inopportune time. When people are running you down with guns is not the time to ask questions about who they are and what they want. By the end of the book I had come around with Wil and started to like him very much. He surprised me in the end and I enjoyed that too.

The plot of this book is just…wow. I won’t say too much about it because I don’t want to give anything away. The idea behind this book was sound. Everyone knows that words have power, it’s the very reason that we have language in the first place. But to imagine that words have actual physical power to compel people into doing what you want was fascinating. It unfolded in ways I never expected and I have to admit that I was stunned by the last quarter of this book. Too many times I sat there thinking, “What the hell was that! I didn’t…really she…but no then he…no way!” Ironic that a book about the power of language left me speechless.

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chantress Chantress by Amy Butler Greenfield

Published May 7th, 2013 by Margaret K. McElderry Books

Buy this book at: Amazon / Books A Million / Book Depository / B&N

 

Disclaimer: I was provided a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.  Thank you to the publisher and Edelweiss!

 

Synopsis:

Lucy’s Chantress magic will make her the most powerful—and most hunted—girl in England.

“Sing, and the darkness will find you.” This warning has haunted fifteen-year-old Lucy ever since she was eight and shipwrecked on a lonely island. Lucy’s guardian, Norrie, has lots of rules, but the most important is that Lucy must never sing. Not ever. Now it is 1667, Lucy is fifteen, and on All Hallows’ Eve, Lucy hears a tantalizing melody on the wind. She can’t help but sing—and she is swept into darkness.

When she awakes in England, Lucy hears powerful men discussing Chantresses—women who can sing magic into the world. They are hunting her, but she escapes and finds sanctuary with the Invisible College, an organization plotting to overthrow the nefarious Lord Protector. The only person powerful enough to bring about his downfall is a Chantress. And Lucy is the last one in England.

Lucy struggles to master the song-spells and harness her power, but the Lord Protector is moving quickly. And her feelings for Nat, an Invisible College apprentice and scientist who deeply distrusts her magic, only add to her confusion…

Time is running out, and the fate of England hangs in the balance in this entrancing novel that is atmospheric and lyrical, dangerous and romantic.

 

Rating: 4 star

 

Review:

This book has a cover to die for, I fell in love with it the instant that I saw it.  I decided in that moment that I wanted to read this book.  So when I got a copy of it from the publisher to read, I was ecstatic!  Before I started this book, I put my hand on it gently and prayed that it wouldn’t disappoint me.  I hate being disappointed by books that I want to read this badly.  Let me just say this simply, I was not disappointed.

Lucy is an enchanting main character.  She is smart but stubborn, sometimes to her own detriment.  She had so much spunk to her that I couldn’t help but root for her.  Granted, that she can be a bit naive and silly sometimes but she is just a girl after all.  I am too often disappointed by the heroines in YA novels so Lucy was a delight to read.  Even though the plot took a good long time to get going it was Lucy’s narrative that kept me glued to the pages anyway.  I felt bad for her, I smiled at her, I laughed with her, I sat in horror for her, and I rooted for her.  It’s been a long time since I liked a YA heroine as much as I liked Lucy.

The plot of this book was unique and interesting.  I have read books with all kinds of magic but summoning magic solely through song was a concept that I haven’t seen before.  I liked the idea, and I liked it even more once we figure out all the nuances and perils that it entails.  My only wish for the plot was that it had been fleshed out a little more.  We hardly get any history about Chantresses or the world at all, very cursory at best.  I found the world fascinating so it frustrated me that I didn’t learn that much about it.  For example, the Shadowgrims were not described enough for me.  After 300 odd pages I still can’t quite picture what they are supposed to look like in my head.  They are terrifying no doubt, but they just weren’t described well enough for me.  Maybe it was just me, but I thought that some parts of this needed more detail.  It was also very slow going for most of the book.  Even though I was still interested in what was going on, I wish that there had been a little more action sooner.

The payoff at the end of this book was very satisfying.  Nothing is worse than loving a book all the way through only to feel ripped off once you get to the last page.  The ending was exactly what I wanted to see, how I hoped it would end.  In the end, Lucy saves the day and proves her power to herself and all that awesome stuff.  But it also wasn’t easy, nobody got through it completely unscathed and that made the ending even more awesome.  I hate endings where everything ends perfectly for everybody, it’s not realistic.  I appreciated that every character in this book paid a price for the good they accomplished, it made the stakes real to me and I rooted for them all the harder.

There was actual romance in this book!  I know!  I could hardly believe it myself.  Nat and Lucy spend months on an amicable but chilly basis and then slowly get to know the other and get to a more friendly space.  They stay in that space and continue to get to know one another and face hard times together before they finally develop feelings for each other.  I loved this little romance so much.  It was genuine and honest and sweet.  I knew exactly why Lucy was falling for Nat and exactly why Nat was falling for Lucy.  They were both good, sweet, smart, brave, amazing people.  They both deserve someone as kind and generous as each other and I was thrilled that their romance was so natural and not rushed.

I loved this book.  My once complaints were about the pacing of the plot and the lack of descriptive detail.  I will be reading the next book and I can’t wait to see where this story goes.