the Little Red Reviewer

Crosstalk by Connie Willis

Posted on: November 28, 2020

Crosstalk, by Connie Willis

published in 2016

where I got it: the library







I have a bad habit of reading way too much into things.  I also have a bad habit of thinking a book is one subgenre, when in reality it is a different subgenre.


For the first 50 pages of Crosstalk, I thought it was a horror story.


In reality, Crosstalk is a science fiction romantic comedy.  I was supposed to  be laughing out loud, and instead  I was hiding under a blanket. (maybe I was having flashbacks of reading Blackout?  Stranger things have happened)


Let me explain.


Our plucky protagonist, Briddey Flannagan works for Commspan, a large smartphone company. Her assistant often greets her with a list of missed calls and upcoming meetings and appointments, morning strategy meetings often run 5 or 6 hours, and of course the salespeople speak a completely different language than the IT Developers.  Briddey is very close with her family, and they will often show up, unannounced, at her office at work. And if she’s in a meeting? They’ll wait. And text her, while they are waiting.  Let’s not even start on the 300 emails she hasn’t had time to do something with yet.


Putting myself in Briddey’s shoes, with meetings that go for hours, no time to breathe or catch up on email, co-workers stopping me before I can even take my coat off because they want/need something, and needy / neurotic family members texting constantly and then showing up at my work because they can’t wait until I’m off the clock?  My gut reaction was that this world of unnecessary overcommuniation was the bad place, and Connie Willis had written a horror novel about never getting a moments peace because it’s rude to want just 30 seconds to yourself.

Could just be my personal neuroses, but it took me a good 200 pages to calm down. The rapid fire dialog and cute-as-a-button-ness of the story helped.


Because yes,  this is a romantic comedy.  It would make the most adorable TV show!

Briddey is the luckiest girl at Commspan. She and her soon to fiance, Trent, are getting EEDs! The devices allow people to know what someone else is feeling and increase your empathy. To Trent, this seems like the perfect thing for two people who are so in love!   After the surgical procedure, she should start to know what Trent is feeling (and how much he loves her!) within 48 hours.


Unfortunately, immediately after having the procedure, she starts hearing someone else.


But the EED should let her only hear Trent’s  feelings!  It can’t possibly connect her to someone else . . .  could it?  And if she can’t hear Trent’s feelings, does that mean their relationship isn’t a strong as she thought?  Will she have to pretend to know what he’s feeling? If they are soon to be engaged, and then soon to be (gulp!) married, will she have to pretend that the EED is working, forever?


A warm and predictable romantic comedy ensues.


I liked the book’s subtle commentary on how and why we communicate with each other.  We already have email and texting and calling and in-person conversations. . .  do we really need telepathic communication too?  And when you’re just casually chatting with someone, you can sneak in a little white lie to spare their feelings – can you lie if someone can read your feelings?  Because come on, it’s telepathy, what could possibly go wrong?


(“what could possibly go wrong” is my FAVORITE).


I love Willis’s rapid fire dialog, and I love that she uses dialog as sleight of hand, to keep the reader distracted from what’s really going on. The heavy dialog makes a nearly 500 page book go by at lightning speed, which is nice too.    In her world of over communication, Briddey needs to filter out the unnecessary stuff, so she can hear the important stuff.  Like what her nerdy co-worker C.B is actually trying to tell her.     If he’d run a comb through his hair, C.B. could be kinda cute, maybe.


I got a hardback of this book from the library. At nearly 500 pages, it was quite the chunkster! Not recommended for reading it bed, as dropping this on your face while dozing off could cause major bruising (which of course, I don’t know from experience).


Crosstalk isn’t Willis’s best, it isn’t a groundbreaking thinky book, but it is perfectly paced, pleasant, and enjoyable science fiction romantic comedy with a very heartwarming ending.


If you’re sick of horrible things happening to your favorite characters, if you’re looking for something that plays with our addiction to technology but makes no mention whatsoever of the year 2020,  Crosstalk is the book for you.


10 Responses to "Crosstalk by Connie Willis"

Great review! I hadn’t heard of this one before but it sounds intriguing.

Liked by 1 person

thanks! if you happen to come a across a copy of this, it’s certainly worth a try.

Liked by 1 person

I wasn’t sure about this one at first, but when I realised she was using that writing style with overwhelming dialogue to hammer home her point about being bombarded with communication technology, i was like woaaaah very clever, Willis.

Liked by 1 person

The constant interruptions and demands are so suffocating — it is horrifying! Who needs telepathy when everybody is up in your face all the time?

Liked by 1 person

Yep! Horror novel material!


I really liked this one! I thought it was also a bit of a satire in a lot of ways, in the great tradition of Austen maybe. 🙂

Liked by 1 person

wasn’t it just so cute and heartwarming, and just, well, nice? it’s so refreshing to read a book about nice people doing nice things.

i love satire, but often fail to recognize it. like, if someone tells me ahead of time “hey! this is satire!”, i have a blast. but if i don’t know ahead of time, my brain just doesn’t twig to it.

Liked by 1 person

It was really nice! I had a lot of fun with the book. I’m glad I read it. 🙂


I love Connie Willis, because her books are so different and not what I’m expecting. Loved The Doomsday Book and Say Nothing of the Dog, and need to read more by her. Agree this wasn’t an amazing book but I did enjoy it.

Liked by 1 person

join the conversation

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Follow me on Twitter!

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 2,580 other followers

Follow the Little Red Reviewer on



FTC Stuff

some of the books reviewed here were free ARCs supplied by publishers/authors/other groups. Some of the books here I got from the library. the rest I *gasp!* actually paid for. I'll do my best to let you know what's what.
%d bloggers like this: