Alena Graedon’s novel is set in a dystopian not-too-distant future in which everyone relies on tablet-like electronic devices, known as memes, to manage almost every aspect of their lives; from shopping and ordering taxis, to prompting the user when the meaning of an obscure word foxes them. The story revolves around the home of one of the last bastions of print – the North American Dictionary of the English Language, which, along with the OED, is the printing world’s swansong.
The editor, Doug, has mysteriously vanished and it’s up to his daughter, Ana, to solve the clues to his disappearance and bring him home – all before she and everyone she cares about succumbs to the devastating effects of the insidious word flu propagated by the creators of the memes’ successor, the nautilus.
The Word Exchange is fluidly written, and breathlessly faced-paced. Graedon interposes the ‘new’ words created by nautilus users into the recognisable syntax with ease and the reader is left in no doubt as to their intended meanings. The mysterious twists and turns leave the reader hooked until the end.
This book about words and meaning is a gratifyingly haunting homage to literature and language. Very entertaining.
Posted by RJB
Catalogue link: The Word Exchange