★ ★ ★
The Word Exchange: A Novel by Alena Graedon | April 2014 | Doubleday | Hardcover $26.95
In the not so distant future, the forecasted “death of print” has become a reality. Bookstores, libraries, newspapers and magazines are a thing of the past, as we spend our time glued to handheld devices called Memes that not only keep us in constant communication, but have become so intuitive as to hail us cabs before we leave our offices, order take out at the first growl of a hungry stomach, and even create and sell language itself in a marketplace called The Word Exchange.
Liked it, more or less.
It has an intriguing premise; this book is all about the rise of a mysterious plague that destroys a person’s perception of / ability to use language, due in no small part to the quick near-universal adoption of “Memes” (a sort of mind-reading smartphone-like piece of tech).
I’m in love with quite a few bits of the writing — lots of quotables and some really nice passages for the reader’s brain to chew on and practically taste. Plus I felt pretty smart whenever I recognized any philosophical or literary reference, which I’m sure was not nearly as often as it ought to have been, but I do my best.
Did not care for Bart’s POV sections — seriously, the “e.g.” thing was like a mental tic or something and while I understand that this was supposed to be a part of his self-consciously academic characterization it just drove me BATTY. Add that on top of his “nice guy” -ish bullshit attitude toward Ana and, well, I admit that I started skipping whole chunks of his POV sections. This on top of some of the less poetic, more thesaurus-inspired sections began to slightly wear on my patience.
The premise was a little hard to buy, but I guess that’s true for most end-of-civilization stories. But seriously, when almost a quarter of the U.S. population doesn’t have regular internet access and less than 1/2 even own a data-enabled smartphone or tablet (according the the U.S. government)… yeah, it’s hard to buy that in only a few short years all books will be basically dead and we’ll all be fighting off brain-infecting übersmartphones.
Still, the book wasn’t bad. I definitely see potential in this author and will be keeping an eye out for more from her. Suggesting to our adult fiction selector at the library keep it in mind if she has any money left over at the end of the month.
- Internet, computer, and mobile device use stats from the US Census Bureau
- Q&A with Alena Graedon at Bustle
- Book review at Kirkus
- Book review at the New York Times
- Book review at Tor.com
Publication information: Graedon, Alena. The Word Exchange. New York: Doubleday, 2014. Print.
Source: Received an e-ARC from NetGalley + a physical ARC from the publisher via Goodreads giveaway.
Disclaimer: I am not compensated, monetarily or otherwise, for reviews of books or other products.