Author: Connie Willis
Publisher: Del Ray: An imprint of Random House, Oct 2016 (ARC – Uncorrected Proof)
Genre: Science Fiction
**I received this copy on NetGalley free from the Publisher and Author in exchange for an honest review**
It’s been hard to wait to post this, and I didn’t even put up a “Currently Reading for Review” post. This read has been going on ever since I received the copy and, in a major push, I finished it this morning. I got to a point in the book where I just COULD NOT PUT IT DOWN. I have never read anything by Connie Willis, but I can see why she’s a multi-award-winning author. This book took my breath away with its ingenuity and unbelievably humorous and heart-wrenching plot line. I laughed out loud and I was frustrated by people and I panicked and I felt every emotion of the protagonist. This was a great read for me, and I wish I could push rewind and do it all over again. It was just that good.
Briddey Flannigan is trying to keep a secret: she and her boyfriend, Trent Worth, are having an EED, a procedure that will allow them to feel each other’s emotions. All the celebrities have had one: Kim Kardashian swears by hers. Trent promises that once they connect emotionally, they’ll get engaged. And who wouldn’t want to be engaged to the most eligible man at Commspan? Briddey and Trent both work there, and to waylay any gossip, he’s sworn Briddey to secrecy.
But C.B. Schwartz, the eccentric genius who works in a basement lab at Commspan, has found out, and he warns Briddey there might be UICs (unintended consequences) to having brain surgery. She may think it’s a minor procedure, but who knows what could happen? While Commspan is trying to beat Apple in the phone wars by pushing MORE communication, C.B. keeps inventing ways to prevent it. Briddey ignores C.B.’s warnings and has the procedure. She wants to feel closer to Trent…she loves him, and he loves her, right?
But when Briddey starts experiencing the first UIC of the procedure, she realizes she CANNOT tell Trent. Because the truth is, she has connected…but not in the way he thought. And not to him.
That’s all I can say without getting into spoilers, but it is hilarious what happens and how Briddey reacts. And her crazy family makes having any personal boundaries seem like a pipe dream. Her poor niece Maeve can’t watch Princess movies without her mother (Briddey’s sister Mary Clare) worrying about the values warping her young daughter’s mind. She puts spyware on her computer to make sure she’s not talking to terrorists online. Briddey’s Aunt Oona insists she has “the sight” and can tell when trouble is coming. And Kathleen, Briddey’s other sister, keeps dating losers and falls in love after a single date. The whole family is a circus while Briddey tries to keep her surgery, and the consequences of it, under wraps.
Is It Classroom-Appropriate?
Yes. Since I normally focus on YA on the blog, that would be what I would recommend sticking with, but I can still see younger people reading this book. It doesn’t have anything inappropriate, and a higher level reader would enjoy this novel. I would love to include this in a college English class, because the science is really believable, and it is a warning to all of us that feel we aren’t close enough with the current level of communication. Yes, it seems tempting to want to know how people feel and what they think, but as C.B. so clearly reminds us, “It’s a cesspool in there.” I think it warns all of us that a little privacy isn’t such a bad thing. Especially when it comes to how what we think and feel can change so suddenly.
While this is labeled Adult, and not YA, it’s usually supposed to be for readers that are older. However, I found nothing offensive in it to suggest that younger readers wouldn’t enjoy this. I would have loved this at 16 or 60. It’s a contemporary story with science fiction elements. I think it all comes down to the proficiency of the reader, as there are some advanced concepts. I was able to read it, and I was never bored like with other “adult” books. I would really like to read more by Willis.
Oh, ★★★★★ easily. I would recommend this to everybody. Briddey will drive you a little crazy sometimes, but you can’t blame her with the events that transpire. I think all my YA aficionados should reach beyond the genre for one minute just to read this book. I never doubted for a minute that I would enjoy this as I read it, and I’m glad I did. I’m personally requesting that when it comes out, you all give it a chance, because I think you’ll find it fresh and funny and sweet. I did, and you know I won’t steer you wrong. And Willis has won numerous awards, so I think I might check out some of her other stories.
Thank you again to Del Ray for the advanced copy of this book! I would never have known about it if not for NetGalley, and I know this is a book that I’ll read again, because I’ll never get sick of Briddey, Aunt Oona, Maeve, and C.B. I will seriously miss C.B. and his ever-present Doctor Who t-shirt!