I like my alone time. I need my alone time. Accept for rare cases when I am totally immersed in a particular book, I can’t read when there is too much background noise: TV, music, conversations. I prefer silence so that trying to block out other sounds doesn’t constantly pull me out of my reading. I also often have a Pavlovian response to the various dings my cell phone makes. My body’s reaction to cell phone alerts is something like the nonverbal equivalent of Ugh!, particularly when I am doing something else and don’t want to multi task at the moment. This book lives in the Ugh! It’s a never-ending loop of the “Can you hear me now” commercials.
Briddey Flannigan works at a company that is basically a competitor to Apple. Caught up in a romance with Trent, one of the big wig eligible bachelors at the company, Briddey agrees to undergo a “minor” medical procedure with him to allow them to sense each other’s emotions. In the procedure, an “EED” is placed IN THE BRAINS of each partner so that they can each feel how the other feels about them. No second guessing whether they love you–you’ve got a chip that will tell you! I have no idea why anyone would think that this is a good idea.
Shortly after the procedure, Briddey begins to discover that she may have gotten more than she bargained for. The flood of daily information, the constant interruption of her unbelievably invasive family (boundaries, people!!) and a heightened sensitivity to an already crowded world of stimulus and over communication tests her sanity. Perhaps the disheveled IT guy that lurks in the company’s basement can help?
Crosstalk is about all of the things that often drive me bonkers: background noise, the expectation of constant contact and availability and the digital grapevine of social media that can be both friend and foe. Reading it made me totally anxious which, in part, was the point. The relentless miscommunication and the frustration of the characters talking over each other and NEVER listening is part of what Willis is writing about here. The problem is that it also wants to be a love story but its difficult to root for a couple of people who can’t or won’t communicate with each other in a meaningful way. You can’t feel the chemistry through loads and loads of paranoid internal dialogue.
So, so many things about this book were frustrating. Some of it intentional and the nature of the story. Some of it….not so much (Magically delicious level Irish stereotypes and a character that talked like a leprechaun). It would have worked better as a satire for me if it hadn’t tried so hard to be a romantic comedy as well. This is really a 2 1/2 for me, but rounding up to 3 because Willis’ Doomsday Book rocked and I can’t be too much of a hater.