After reading Alena Graedon’s unsettling debut novel The Word Exchange, I will never think of my cell phone the same way again! In a world where libraries, book stores and printed items themselves are disappearing, handheld “memes” become indispensable, even to the point of ordering food for you when you get hungry and helping you “find the right word.”
In this eerily dystopian future, Anana searches for her anti-meme father who goes missing right before the launch of the final dictionary ever to be printed. Her sole clue is a note that says,” ALICE,” which is the code word Doug had given her if he was ever in danger — along with two vials of blue pills should she ever become unexplainably ill. But when a highly contagious pandemic “word flu” erupts, the symptoms include disorientation, garbled words and potential permanent muteness.
There are so many wonderful subplots (and a great romance!) including hidden clues relating to Alice in Wonderland, secret meetings at the Mercantile Library, evasion of dangerous stalking thugs, and overall, the addictive “Word Exchange” game that creates “new words” and so much more!
I particularly enjoyed the book being told from Anana’s perspective, alternating with her colleague and admirer Bart’s journal entries. An alphabetized word and definition begin each chapter, and while I was on a road trip, I was fully aware of the irony of when, at one point, I caved and used my cell phone to expand the definition of that chapter’s word…
A great selection for fans of dystopian societies!