The Word Exchange takes place in a world where people are using their handheld devices (they're called Memes) almost exclusively and books and the written word are disappearing. Memes communicate and with an implant can help you react to what's going on around you, hailing a taxi or finding specific words for you. Ana works for her father Doug who runs one of the last printers. They are currently printing a dictionary (NADEL) but Doug disappears. With his assistant Bart (who's in love with Ana) Anana (she's called both) attempts to find her father. The search is complicated when people start coming down with aphasia or word flu. They lose the ability to think or speak words and eventually die.
The concept is clever and I felt I should have liked this book more than I actually did. For one thing there seemed to be a need to actually use every word in a dictionary as part of the story. I found myself looking up words, but lost that battle when the word flu struck. The author brilliantly starts using imaginary words to illustrate the word flu, sort of like the poem Jabberwocky (Alice in Wonderland is a theme throughout the book). This makes sentences harder to understand but at the same time illustrates the terror the person with aphasia is going through.
The story is slow in parts and I didn't like the footnotes or other literary devices that seemed too cute. The story is told through the POV's of Ana and Bart (he uses a journal). I happened to like Bart better as Ana was a little too much a stereotypical dizzy blonde at times. But the idea that the Luddites are the heroes is attractive and it is a book worth reading. I received this as an ARC for an honest review.
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