Thursday, April 10, 2014

The Word Exchange: A Novel

Title:  The Word Exchange:  A Novel
Author:  Alena Graedon
Publication Information:  Doubleday. 2014. 384 pages.
ISBN:  0385537654 / 978-0385537650
Book Source:  I received this book as a publisher's galley through NetGalley free of cost in exchange for an honest review.

Favorite Quote:  "Sometimes talking is an act of kindness. Sometimes silence is."

Anana Johnson works with her father, Doug, at the North American Dictionary of the English Language (NADEL). The setting is the "future" in New York City. It is a time where verbal communication is dying; word exchanges are replacing the printed word; and individuals uses devices called Memes.

Memes are intelligent, learning to anticipate the individuals needs and desires and making decisions, sometimes even before the conscious thought occurs to the person.

Doug is working on preserving language, and Anana is helping him. The book opens with the fact that Doug has disappeared. In searching for him, Anana and her colleague Bartleby are pulled in a world of intrigue - a world where language is being destroyed by the "word flu" and those like Doug are trying to save the world.

I was excited to get a copy of this book. The idea of a book about language, interpersonal communication, and about technology's effect on our communication patterns really appeals to me.

Unfortunately, I had trouble even finishing the book. If it was not a review copy, I would likely have abandoned it. The story is narrated through the voices of the different characters. Certain sections are in the form of journal entries from Anana and Bratleby. The entries seems to be a stream of consciousness sharing of the narrator's thoughts.

The book also uses some complicated vocabulary - an understandable choice for a book about language but difficult for a fiction read. I love words and language, and I found some of the word choices distracting. Keep the dictionary handy!

The book also has something I have never seen in fiction - substantive footnotes. At one point, Anana mentions that they are part of recovery of language. I do not understand their use at all. They make the book difficult to read, particularly on an e-reader.

Because the idea of the book still appeals to me, it gets two stars.

Please share your thoughts and leave a comment. I would love to "talk" to you.

No comments:

Post a Comment