Review: The Word Exchange ~ Alena Graedon

word exchangeISBN ~ 978-0345806031
Publisher ~Anchor
No. Of Pages ~370pages
Links ~ Penguin Random House, Amazon, Alena Graedon

Books, libraries, and newspapers have at last become things of the past. Now handheld Memes allow for constant communication and entertainment. They can even anticipate our needs, dialing the doctor before we know we’re sick, or prompting us with words we can’t recall. Yet a few dedicated wordsmiths are still laboring on the final print edition of the North American Dictionary of the English Language. But one evening, right before it’s released, Anana Johnson finds that the chief editor—her father—has vanished.

In alternating points of view, Anana and her bookish colleague Bart follow their only clue, the word ALICE, down the proverbial rabbit hole, into subterranean passages, the stacks of the Mercantile Library, and secret meetings of an anti-Meme underground resistance, racing closer to the truth about Anana’s father’s disappearance, and discovering a frightening connection to the growing “word flu” pandemic.

1 Thumbs-UpIt’s been a long time since I read a book like this, and I hope it will be a long time before I read another.  This is the only book I have ever read that by the magic page number of 119, I literally threw it aside in disgust.  To say it is a mess of ideas would be being generous, and I’m afraid to say I found it just to be a mess.

The main female protagonist is whiny and just downright annoying, coupled with her is the downright stalkerish alternate narrator combining into two characters I neither liked nor wanted to be bothered reading about anymore.  None of the other lesser characters shone through the pages either, and this would have been a redeeming factor that would have made me continue reading.

As any follower of my reviews will know by now, it takes a lot for me to actually close a book unfinished, but I found the footnotes and the sometimes having to refer to a dictionary to understand what the Author was writing about too much to bear.  In my opinion it was a very verbose piece of writing with very little plot and far too time consuming to be considered a novel.  If this had been written as non-fiction and a reflection on current society’s reliance on technology to the detriment of everything else it would have been much better received by myself; as it was it was relegated to the pile of books I will be parting with shortly.

The only saving grace that kept it from receiving zero thumbs was the cover.  I liked it a great deal and spent quite a time trying to link the cover images with the plot of the book.  I love the English language and the words that are no longer in general use, and this was what attracted me to it in the first place, however over use of the language was a big turn off and because of this I feel I really can’t recommend this book to anyone.

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