Title: The Word Exchange
Author: Alena Graedon
Review: The ‘death of print’ threatens to become reality when a word flu makes it impossible for most people to communicate. Anana Johnson has what she considers to be her dream job: working with her father Doug at the North American Dictionary of the English Language. In an era when nearly everyone communicates via a digital device called a meme, producing a dictionary is the ultimate old-school occupation.
When her father mysteriously disappears, Anana begins to uncover a plot that might threaten to change society forever. Synchronic, the company who makes the meme, is unveiling Nautilus, a wearable communication device. One of the ways they make money is by charging for information and they’re be been buying reference companies. Banana will soon be out of a job, but that’s not the biggest problem. Her ex-boyfriend Max now works for Synchronic and he seems to be at the heart of something serious.
Max and Synchronic had developed a virus that make users dependent on Nautilus. But now the virus is out of control. It’s rendering many users mute or leaving them just talking gibberish.
Anana escapes to the U.K., where a band of writers is trying to reverse the effects of the virus. It is now possible to catch the virus simply by talking with an affected person. So not only is digital communication impossible, so are most other forms of writing and speech.
Doug resurfaces and he helps develop a therapy that helps reverse some of the impact of the virus. But with thousands dead and limits on how and where people can communicate, it’s going to be a long time before anything returns to normal.
This is just an incredibly unique and unexpected story. It’s an idea that makes a lot of sense in today’s technology driven world, but it’s not a story I’ve seen anywhere else.
Towards the end of the book, Banana discovers Max has died from the side effects of the word flu. She’s both sad about his death but also conflicted because she blames him for the spread of the word flu.
Anana Johnson is a complex character. She loves her father, but also thinks he’s a bit of a crank until the discovery of the word flu. She’s smart, but she’s also well aware that there is.much she doesn’t know. All of that makes her a very likeable character.
Buy it here:
Kindle Edition: amazon.co.uk