Lexicon – Max Barry


Genre: Science Fiction, Thriller, Dystopia
Pages: 390
Star Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Opening Line:

“‘He’s coming around.'”

Although the above is the opening line to the actual story, there is a quote before that which is what initially made me want to read this book:

Every story written is
marks upon a page
The same marks,
repeated, only
differently arranged

I’ve read that line so many times now that I could probably just reel it off to anyone who’ll listen. That quote is exactly how I’ve always felt about writing, about words, about letters, and meaning. This book is definitely for lovers of words, and lovers of storytelling. Even better than that, it’s a thriller too, and I LOVE thrillers. Especially psychological, cleverly written ones. This is a thriller for literary nerds as well as thriller fans.

I must admit, I struggled with the beginning. Usually, I like to begin a book knowing exactly what is going on, but that’s the risk with thrillers, you have to read the rest of the book before things slot into place and start making sense. This is one of those books where, once you get into it you don’t want to stop, but after you’re finished reading you have to go back and re-read the beginning and make sense of it retrospectively.

The storytelling is done mostly through perspective changes, but it is written with Free Indirect Discourse. Which, for those of you who don’t know, means that it is written in the third person, but the narration dips in and out of the character’s mind and thoughts. The narration adopts certain lexis that the character might use, for example:

“She reached into her money pouch. Two bucks.A difference of four, between winning and losing. That was a meal. It was a down payment on a night of chemical joy.”

The reason I’m pointing this out is because the characterisation is one of the best things about this book, and is what kept me reading, along with the brilliant plot. I absolutely became addicted to this book. I wish I could devour it all over again for the first time.

Usually, I don’t like excessive swearing in books. But in this book, I just accepted it. I can’t imagine it without the swearing. There’s a lot of action and tense moments for the characters and I think it would be weird if they didn’t swear in those situations. I really came to like the main characters, and loved their dialogue the whole way through. I felt myself rooting for them, but even so, I was kept guessing right up until the end.

The end. Oh, the end. I had tears of joy from the sheer brilliance. It was one of those yes moments. Sort of like the climax to Ulysses, you just think yes. Because the ending is just spot on. I couldn’t not give it 5/5 stars. I might have given it 4 because of the difficult beginning, but the brilliant ending changed that.

This book is clever, engaging, a pleasure to read, and witty. I loved it.

Favourite quote:

“[Love is] defining yourself through the eyes of another. It’s coming to know a human being on a level so intimate that you lose any meaningful distinction between you, and you carry the knowledge that you are insufficient without her every day…” p. 171.

Link to the book on Goodreads:


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