Friday, April 11, 2014

Review: The Word Exchange by Alena Graedon


A dystopian novel for the digital age, The Word Exchange offers an inventive, suspenseful, and decidedly original vision of the dangers of technology and of the enduring power of the printed word.

In the not-so-distant future, the forecasted “death of print” has become a reality. Bookstores, libraries, newspapers, and magazines are things of the past, and we spend our time glued to handheld devices called Memes that not only keep us in constant communication but also have become so intuitive that they hail us cabs before we leave our offices, order takeout at the first growl of a hungry stomach, and even create and sell language itself in a marketplace called the Word Exchange.
Anana Johnson works with her father, Doug, at the North American Dictionary of the English Language (NADEL), where Doug is hard at work on the last edition that will ever be printed. Doug is a staunchly anti-Meme, anti-tech intellectual who fondly remembers the days when people used email (everything now is text or videoconference) to communicate—or even actually spoke to one another, for that matter. One evening, Doug disappears from the NADEL offices, leaving a single written clue: ALICE. It’s a code word he devised to signal if he ever fell into harm’s way. And thus begins Anana’s journey down the proverbial rabbit hole . . .
Joined by Bart, her bookish NADEL colleague, Anana’s search for Doug will take her into dark basements and subterranean passageways; the stacks and reading rooms of the Mercantile Library; and secret meetings of the underground resistance, the Diachronic Society. As Anana penetrates the mystery of her father’s disappearance and a pandemic of decaying language called “word flu” spreads, The Word Exchange becomes a cautionary tale that is at once a technological thriller and a meditation on the high cultural costs of digital technology.

My Thoughts:
I thought the concept for this book was intriguing. Paper books are basically obsolete. People are dependent on their hand-held devices and even pay for the definitions to words. Anana works at the Dictionary with her father Doug but he is suddenly missing and she is pulled into a mystery. Language lovers will appreciate this story. It was a big slow to start, though and jumped around quite a bit and became a little tough to follow at times. 
The footnotes were frustrating. They were bits of information that could have been put into the story or left out completely. The navigation back and forth didn't work at all on my phone and was hit-and-miss on my iPad. Overall it was an interesting story with some unexpected twists and kept me reading.

My Rating: ****

My Source: Netgalley

Where to get it:

Where to find the author:
Random House

1 comment:

  1. This premise sounds intriguing. Thanks for the post.


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