"On a very cold and lonely Friday last November, my father disappeared from the Dictionary. And not only from the big glass building on Broadway where its offices were housed. On that night my father, Douglas Samuel Johnson, Chief Editor of the North American Dictionary of the English Language, slipped from the actual artifact he'd helped compose. That was before the Dictionary died, letters expiring on the page. Before the virus. Before our language dissolved like so much melting snow. It was before I nearly lost everything I love."
When I read those opening lines I knew I was going to love this book. Alena Graedon has written an imaginative dystopian novel where the printed word is all but dead and everyone relies on handheld devices called Memes for their news and entertainment...and even their words...instead. Anana Johnson's father, Douglas, is one of the lone hold outs. But then he disappears--leaving Anana a one-word SOS: Alice. Anana finds herself falling down the rabbit hole as she tries to figure out what happened to her father and, more importantly, why.
This is a thought-provoking novel of words and language, technology, communication, addiction, and love. When a new virus, the "word flu", begins robbing people of their ability to speak they turn to their Memes and its Word Exchange for the words they seek. But who's controlling the Exchange? Because whoever controls the meaning of words, can also then control what people think. The future Graedon imagines in this book is a chilling look at what can happen when technology goes wrong. Talk about a haunting conspiracy theory!
"The end of words would mean the end of memory and thought. In other words, our past and future. It may seem to some readers that the dystopian future we're imagining is exaggerated or, at the very least, a long way off. We can only hope, for all our sakes, that they're right. Because if not, then these and all words may very soon lose their meanings. And then we'll all be lost."I thought this book was a lot of fun. Each chapter is headed by a letter of the alphabet and a corresponding word and definition. (Perfect for a word junkie like me.) And not only is Graedon's writing amazing, but I also loved her quirky characters. In fact, this is one of the best books I've read all year. It has mystery and humor; romance and suspense. The Word Exchange is a remarkable and unforgettable read!