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Review: Crosstalk by Connie Willis

4 Stars

Thank you to NetGalley and the publishers for the chance to read this book prior to publication in exchange for my honest review.

We jump right into this book and meet Briddey Flannigan.  She works for a small but competitive cell phone company and is dating one of the young executives, Trent Worth.  Prior to a marriage proposal, Trent wants Briddey to have an EED – a simple, outpatient procedure that will increase the empathy between them.  This procedure has become all the rage and everyone from celebrities to world leaders is having this done to have a better emotional connection to their partner.  She’s excited even though her overbearing family wants her to leave Trent for a nice Irish boy and she’s grist for the insidious rumor mill at work.

Briddey and Trent undergo the procedure and when Briddey wakes, she finds that she’s not connected to Trent at all, but to her horror, she has connected with C.B. Schwartz.  He’s the geeky researcher that spends all his time in the sub-basement of Commspan, where they both work.  He tried to talk her out of getting the EED, had tried to show her that the world needs less communication and not more.  He tried to warn her of unintended consequences.  And now here she is, stuck with this man in her mind, reading all of her thoughts.  Something that should have been utterly impossible.

To add to the mix, her boyfriend can’t understand why they haven’t connected.  But then he goes off into high-powered, super secret meetings.  She starts to realize that there might be something going on when she starts to hear more than just C.B.’s voice in her head and she starts to get snippets from not only Trent but from everyone around her.  They come in like a flood, a deluge.  C.B. becomes her life-line.  Teaching her to put up barriers and defenses against the voices.  Then, against the odds, Trent breaks through and can hear her thoughts too.

Trent wants to bring telepathy to the world and make it the next great smartphone companion.  Who needs phones when you can have instant communication?!  This leads Briddey and C.B. on a race against the clock to keep Trent and Commspan away from them and away from telepathy, that they know is dangerous and debilitating.  Just imagine being able to hear thousands of voices all at once, their innermost thoughts.  Knowing what I think about in the privacy of my own head from time to time…you couldn’t pay me to open myself up to that!

I really did enjoy the book.  It was a very fast read for being as long as it is.  I just kept wanting to go from one page to the next to see what was going to happen next.  The only real disconnect that I had with the book was with Briddey’s niece, Maeve.  She’s 9 years old and her mannerisms and speech sometimes follow that of a child, but in many ways she’s far too old for her years and far too intelligent.  She’s doing things that you wouldn’t see from most adults let alone a 3rd grader.  I understand genius and she may even be a savant, but I think her age really did take away from the story a bit, especially near the end.  I think if she was a little older, I could have swallowed it a little better.

Still a very fun read.  You knew what was going to happen with Briddey and C.B. pretty early on, but it was still a very satisfying ending.

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