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
Ooh, new Connie Willis! Yay.
Let me make a more coherent response. Thanks for the review – this looks good. I love Connie Willis but she’s a little hit or miss for me – I could not get through Black Out so I’m glad her latest looks like it’s more to my taste.
For anyone new to Connie Willis who wants recs, I think that Bellwether and To Say Nothing of the Dog are good starting points for romance readers, since they both have lovely, if understated, romances (not all of her books include a love story and some that do don’t have an hea). They’re also both funny. For more serious moods, The Doomsday Book is excellent. And her Christmas anthology Miracle is excellent – there’s a wide range of moods and genres, including one excellent romantic comedy.
Willis is a well-known fan of the map-cap rom-coms of the ’30s and ’40s and uses that vibe in a number of her books. If you want a little more of that, try ‘Bellwether’ next. ‘All Seated on the Ground’ is novella length. with a Christmas background.
I’ve read almost everything she’s written (and own a hefty chunk of that). I am looking forward to reading this–as soon as the library can get it to me.
@Barb in Maryland: Looks like we cross posted – I loved All Seated on the Ground.
I bought “Bellwether” a while ago when it was on sale. And I’ve heard about the Christmas novella.
My library already has a copy of this and it’s already been checked out.
Reading “Crosstalk” RIGHT NOW!!! This review just makes me more excited!
If you’ve never read Connie Willis, and you like Christmas stories, you should check out “All Seated on the Ground” which is a story about an invasion of aliens who all look like your disapproving aunt.
I have tried numerous times to read To Say Nothing of the Dog and have never made it past the first few chapters. This sounds like my type of book catnip though, and fortunately my public library has several copies. Maybe this will be the book that will help me understand why so many people love Connie Willis.
Am a big fan of Connie Willis. I loved To Say Nothing Of the Dog. Doomsday was understandably a bit grim but was wonderfully written. I enjoyed both Blackout and All Clear but I ‘read’ both of those as audiobooks.
I must read Bellwether. I’m sure it’s in the TBR mountain somewhere.
The new book sounds interesting, but possibly more ‘horrifying’ for me as the thought of all those other voices in your head…aaargh!
Oh a new Connie Willis. Yay!
Wading through this, but it’s a bit of a chore! I enjoyed Blackout and All Clear, but, again, very long-winded and could easily have been one book.
Domesday is by far my favourite Connie Willis – all downhill from there.
@Lizzy: I guess maybe this was a good place for me to start reading Willis. Uphill from here for me!