Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Review: The Word Exchange by Alena Graedon

Publisher: Doubleday
Pages: 384
Received: Received a copy from Random House of Canada in exchange for an honest review

Release Date: April 8, 2014
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Goodreads Synopsis:

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 Review:

Well, this book definitely caught my attention, I absolutely love the cover and the description. I think Alena Graedon has used this story to really show how technology has taken over people's lives and changed language. Though this story goes over the top, it is scary to think that something like this could happen. This book is one that I think as a reader you need to sit down and take you time to get through.

I really loved how the story was written, back and forth from Anana's perspective and Bart's, giving readers two views on this "word flu". There is so much happening in this book, that it's hard to stop reading, I wanted to know more about how things came about, and also what really happened to Anana's father, Doug. The characters are quite eccentric and have such strong personalities which really add to the whole dynamic of the story.

What I really loved about this book was how it made me actually think about my life and how technology has affected it. I am of the generation that grew up with technology, and seeing how younger generations can already do so much really makes me wonder about what the written word will be like in years to come. Don't get me wrong I am not of the belief that print is dying, but there are so many people that rely on technology for everything, I can't even leave my house without my phone, it is an extension of myself. Alena Graedon has such an interesting idea of how technology evolves to think for us and really do everything, even ordering food and taxis for us.

Honestly, this book is one that I think everyone should read just because of the impact the story itself can have on people. It makes me want to sit down and take a break from technology. But adding to the story is the history behind words and language itself, as well as discussing how new words come into fruition. Alena Graedon slowly inserts the "word flu" into her story in a way that she shows the growth of it and how it takes over slowly.

Everything about this book was amazing, and insightful, and I hope to see more from Alena in the future.

Stay tuned in the next couple of days for an interview with Alena. 

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