October 2, 2014

The Word Exchange: A Novel by Alena Graedon

The Word Exchange by Alena Graedon

"We fear that Memes may have a paradoxical effect - that indeed, contrary to Synchronic's claims, they tend to narrow rather than expand consciousness, to the point where our most basic sense of self - our interior I - has started to be eclipsed. Our facility for reflection has dimmed, taking with it our skill for deep and unfettered thinking. And another change is taking place: our capacity for communication is fading. In the most extreme cases, Meme users have been losing language. Not esoteric bits of linguistic debris but everyday words: ambivalence, paradox, naive. The more they forget, the more dependent on the device they become, a frightening cycle that only amplifies and that has grown to engulf one another of Synchronic's innovations, the Word Exchange."

What if the "death of print" was a reality?  When most people can't even recall a time when they saw a print book and even the word "book" sounds antiquated?  This is the world featured in Graedon's book.  Memes are a handheld device that does so much for its owner it can anticipate your needs.  So, naturally, as this goes on, you find you need your memory less and less until you become dependent on this device.  This increasing dependence (called "word flu" as it spreads) is becoming more and more of an issue.

In fact, this is such big business that Anana's father, who works for the last remaining Dictionary in existence, has gone missing and Anana has to figure out why and if the company behind the Meme is actually up to something more conniving than she ever imagined.

It brings to mind how we are already so dependent on our machines.  How many of us can go an entire day without using our phones?  How many of us would feel completely disparate without Google to look up what a word meant really quickly?  I mean, I already cannot for the LIFE of me remember what sanguine, capricious, or anteroom mean even though I have read the words and looked them up three dozen times a piece.  What happens if I start losing more words?  What then?  Omg, do you think I have the start of Word Flu?

*Thank you to Doubleday Books for letting me review this book.*

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