Sticks and stones can break your bones, but words cause permanent damage. And that certainly holds true in Alena Graedon’s inventive debut novel The Word Exchange. The book is equal parts page-turning dystopian thriller and cautionary tale about the cultural costs of our society’s mass-reliance on technology, with some questions about the nature of love thrown in for good measure. The Word Exchange imagines a near future in which our mass-addiction to devices and the associated intellectual sloth creates the opportunity for malevolent corporations to corner the market on language itself, usurping the authority of dictionaries and monetizing access to word meaning. But when the plan spirals out of control and a fast moving digital virus that manifests itself physically in humans causing word flu, because it causes a peculiar form of aphasia in its victims, it is left to the stories unlikely heroine Anana Johnson, daughter of the chief editor of the North American Dictionary of English Language, the genius lexicographer Doug Samuel Johnson, to try and piece the plot together and save the world from descending into a babbling incoherent mess. This is a great read and I can't wait for more from Graedon.
The Word Exchange