Words are powerful. And no one is more aware of this than the mysterious organization of “poets” who study and exploit special command words that allow them to control your mind by breaking down your mental defenses. Finding himself caught up in their conspiracy to control a very powerful word is Wil, a man suffering from peculiar amnesia who is kidnapped by these poets because of his innate ability to avoid persuasion. As we learn more about these poets and their manipulations, we grow ever more suspicious of the characters.
Max Barry has crafted a thrilling novel that literally hinges on words. It would feel like science fiction if it weren’t so grounded in actual language. But the real mind game for the reader centers on the factual revelations, which are scattered throughout the novel. As Wil’s chapters move forward in time with action-heavy sequences, we glean very little knowledge about the poets. It’s through Emily’s chapters that we learn about the organization, and see how the main players may not actually be acting in everyone’s best interest. It soon becomes difficult to root for any character to come out on top, and that’s when the story starts getting most interesting.
The novel is riddled with plot twists (many of which are obvious) that play on our expectations for these characters. You will be immediately absorbed in the novel after just one or two pages. Barry expertly captures your attention and takes you on a fulfilling ride that requires your full attention. This is one literary thriller that fans of language will adore.