Recommended novel: Lexicon, by Max Barry

Click to buy from AmazonA cultish group of self-described poets has mastered the art of persuasion – by figuring out which words and sounds can be used to hack the brains of different personality types. When the poets’ lab develops a word so powerful that almost nobody can resist being coerced by it, at least one among them uses it to destroy an Australian mining town.

This is a high-octane action novel with a hefty mix of science fiction and a touch of old-fashioned romance.

Being a dual Australian-American citizen, I enjoyed this novel in part because its literary set spanned Washington, D.C. and the Australian outback. And I absolutely loved Max Barry’s dry Australian sense of humor, which left me laughing out loud at the most surprising moments.

— John Upton