Lexicon by Max Barry
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Went to the library to pick up a book, saw this one on the “New” shelf. How come no one told me Max Barry had a new novel out? I need to update my Google alerts.
And it’s about words and more specifically linguistics and even more specifically neurolinguistics (actually, psycholinguistics, but let’s not split hairs). Even better! The NLP thing taken to it’s inevitable end, nice. I’m all in.
21 hours later and I’m all done. Max Barry knows how to pace a thriller, doesn’t he. With just enough pseudo-science thrown in to keep this from being a Lee Child joint but not so much that you feel you’re getting Dan Browned.
However, once I stepped back, found myself trying to explain the book to my wife, I realized it was a bit thin. A blurb on the book jacket used the phrased “weaponized Chomskian linguistics.” But no, not really. More like J.K Rowling’s magic-word-creation trope used to good effect. Another blurb said “Elmore Leonard high out of his min on Snowcrash.” Not really.
I realize I’m more reviewing blurbs here than the book. Fine, whatever. My point is—it’s better to go into Lexicon with no expectations, because then it’s a mighty good read. But you’ve read this review now, the shape of the book is already haunting your expectations like a ghost. I’m programming you.
Unwittingly, though. I’m just saying—not as deep as Jennifer Government, or even Company, but it has their paranoia and Barry way-ups the thrill ride, so worth it.
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The Spellmans Strike Again by Lisa Lutz
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I can’t imagine that anyone who’s read The Spellman Files, Curse of the Spellmans, and Revenge of the Spellmans won’t wind up reading The Spellmans Strike Again. Nor can I imagine anyone deciding to start with this fourth novel before reading the others. So what they heck am I supposed to review here, exactly? Maybe someone’s considering the entire series and reading reviews to make sure the books don’t start great then go bad. Fine: that won’t happen. What you get out of the first novels you’ll get out if this one too.
Hijinks and such. The same mish-mash of intertwining plots that don’t really intertwine all that much. I’ll say this: Lisa made me feel some of Izzy’s emotions, especially frustration, more than before. I won’t give it away to people who haven’t read it, but: the file room incident? Morty? Yeah, I was more in touch with Isabel Spellman than in any of the previous novels.
Which makes me wonder what I’m going to get out of Spellman #5, which I’m hoping to start reading later today. And I WILL read it. But will Rae be in it (of course she will be). What about the Unit (they will be too—sometimes I think, as an author and therefor God of the Spellman fiction-verse, Lutz must somewhat identify with Olivia). Will Henry have more of a role?
I could go on, but the point is: questions to be answered in the next review. I hope. Or not.
If you take nothing else away from this “review” (finger quoted, Izzy, just for you) let it be this: read the first three books, and read this one too.
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