REVIEW: Crosstalk by Connie Willis
In the not-too-distant future, a simple outpatient procedure to increase empathy between romantic partners has become all the rage. And Briddey Flannigan is delighted when her boyfriend, Trent, suggests undergoing the operation prior to a marriage proposal—to enjoy better emotional connection and a perfect relationship with complete communication and understanding. But things don’t quite work out as planned, and Briddey finds herself connected to someone else entirely—in a way far beyond what she signed up for.
It is almost more than she can handle—especially when the stress of managing her all-too-eager-to-communicate-at-all-times family is already burdening her brain. But that’s only the beginning. As things go from bad to worse, she begins to see the dark side of too much information, and to realize that love—and communication—are far more complicated than she ever imagined.
Dear Ms. Willis,
After hearing for years about your wonderful books, I saw this one listed at netgalley and jumped all over requesting it. It’s perfect for this age of bombardment by social media and a world where it’s increasingly difficult to keep a little private corner just for yourself. While Briddey is gung-ho about getting an EED to increase her bond with her lover, there’s a Luddite in the company basement with a battered Honda who she might better listen to.
Everyone’s communicating but is it meaningful or are we all lying anyway – even if it’s just little white ones. Do people really want to know what everyone’s thinking? Briddey’s job is with a telecommunications firm that wants to give people more ways to talk at each other but is that better? Or worse? Her family won’t listen to her or leave her alone, her sister won’t listen to her own daughter, her boyfriend is beginning to sound fishy and what about the guy who thinks we should back away from the devices?
I buy into the EED device because it isn’t explained in detail. It just is and everyone accepts it so it makes it easy for me to do likewise. But the implant that is supposed to enhance communication has done nothing for Briddey except cause her to lie to just about everyone. Plus boyfriend Trent’s reaction both before and after the surgery seems shifty. Something Is Going On but what? Does Trent’s initiation of the procedure and subsequent worry about its effectiveness have anything to do with the “paradigm shift in communications” that the company is counting on to stay ahead of the Iphone?
CD and his uncommunication apps are hilarious. Plus he’s got an old Honda. I think I love this man. But once it’s revealed what ability he has, I can understand why he’s so reclusive and jokes about inventing ways not to communicate.
This isn’t just sci-fi but also has some paranormal, well actually a lot of paranormal, woo-woo. Briddey’s initial reaction to what the EED implant has accomplished might seem extreme but if you suddenly heard voices in your head, I bet you’d freak too. She’s stunned, scared and frightened so lashing out is normal. When the full horror of it washes over her, it’s almost as overwhelming to read as I imagine it would be to experience.
Aunt Oona’s preference for a “foine Irish lad” who will be there when you need him and not just an arm candy boyfriend is something Briddey needs to heed. When her Irish lad starts to demonstrate his love and faithfulness, it’s not just window dressing – he’s there for her 110%, above and beyond. I wonder where they will go on their honeymoon?
When the fit hits the shan and the consequences fire up to white hot, I was on the edge of my seat trying to figure out how Briddey and Co. would avoid becoming Government lab rats. Well the why is logical and the how eventually makes sense in the world that’s been created here even if things get incredibly tangled, and to be honest, a little redundant along the way.
But what about after the danger is eliminated? Hints have been strewn along the way about a romance but it takes until the very end for that to flower. When it does though, well it does seem like spontaneous combustion is about to occur. Or at the very least, Disney movie ending fireworks.
So cross a great geek hero + an impulsive redheaded heroine in what starts out looking like it could be a rom-com movie then add some cool sci-fi and paranormal that’s explained just enough to sell it and I’m pretty happy I can finally say I’ve read one of your books. It won’t be the last. B