2021 Reading Challenge

2021 Reading Challenge
Jill Elizabeth has read 3 books toward her goal of 245 books.
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Book Review: Crosstalk by Connie Willis

crrosstalkWhat a MARVELOUS book! I love Connie Willis – she is a master storyteller, always managing to come up with unique characters and unique situations to put them in. Her worlds are just this side of regular – she tweaks the rules of the universe just enough to make her stories futuristic or extra-normal (I hate saying “paranormal” – the word has become synonymous with vampires and werewolves…) in a way that is totally believable yet also a total stretch from everyday reality. It’s a gift, this ability to write sci-fi that reads so comfortably as literary fiction…

In her latest, she takes on the idea of telepathy – but with a Willisian spin.

In a world already overrun with over-communication, Briddey willingly subjects herself to a medical procedure designed to enhance one such element of that communication by enabling her and the man she loves to communicate feelings directly to each other’s brains. The unlikely and unanticipated consequences – which are Willis’s bread and butter – are, of course the reason there’s a story here. Briddey finds herself not so much feeling her love’s emotions as inundated with words – from the least likely source…

The story is brilliant, and the characters are spectacularly developed. As an exegesis on the perils of over-communication in the modern world, the novel also delivers a characteristically Willis-like message. There were a few times that I felt like the novel went a little over-deep in the description – this is an issue I often find in Willis books. It’s not a criticism, so much as a comment. It often feels like she gets so wrapped up in her own stories that she doesn’t realize she’s giving an ant’s-eye view of the details… I don’t really mind it – I, too, get so wrapped up in her stories that I lose track of what’s going on around me – but it does sometimes affect the pacing in ways that are a little distracting. When I find myself noticing, I just set the book down for a bit – when I come back, the delights of her writing style and characters always draw me right back in such that the descriptions no longer seem distracting…

If you like Willis, definitely pick this one up. And if you don’t know her yet, I think it’d be a grand introduction to her style – which runs heavy on marvelously developed characters (Briddey and C.B. are the stars of the book, but 9-year old Maeve gives them a run for their money) and cleverly constructed statements about the world that are delicately folded into gloriously entertaining stories. (I know that’s a lot of adverbs, but I mean every one of them!)

My review copy was provided by the publisher via NetGalley.

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