...snappy dialogue, wildly eccentric characters, comic misunderstandings and, of course, an unlikely romance that is central to the screwball tradition. At the same time, she offers some timely satirical jabs at our overconnected society and high-stakes corporate culture, and ties the whole package together with a classic science fiction idea that's been fairly uncommon in recent decades —telepathy ... The plot ends up a good deal more involved than most screwball comedies, but with a satisfying ending and more sheer hilarity than any science fiction novel this year.
Hijinks ensue. The dialogue crackles, with lots of laugh-out-loud lines ... This is a book built around a profound critique of Internet culture and present-day society’s desire for constant connectivity, and yet the three characters in the Crosstalk love triangle barely engage via the Internet. They are not the zombies, and this is a bit of a shame. Outsider arguments can be hard to make effectively, and this one does not convince ... Crosstalk is undeniably a romp, but I wanted more.
My disappointment with this book is in large part a sort of helpless bafflement. It has so many elements I'd have expected to love. I'm absolutely here for meditations on our hyper-connected society, on how social media has shifted the meaning and performance of privacy, on how an increase in the quantity of connections sometimes means a diminishment of their quality. I'm also very happy to read romantic comedies — a genre built on foregrounding women's desires and agency — that focus on whole families. But Crosstalk isn't interested in nuanced exploration of any of these topics — which would be fine, if it ever actually committed to being outright farce ... it's trying to have its farce-cake and eat it too, and the result is a half-baked mess.
Ever alert to change’s human impact, Willis explores the always humorous and sometimes frightening consequences of heroine Briddey Flannigan’s awareness of exactly what those around her think. Willis also provides convincing explanations of telepathy’s advantages and the likelihood of its survival as a genetic trait. But the novel’s screwball elements, and especially the klutzy-cute interactions between Briddey and maverick nerd C.B. Schwartz, are what charmed me. Rapier wit and sparkling ripostes form the heart of the romantic comedies Willis praises at public appearances, sharing her love for the art form. They’re very much in evidence here.
Crosstalk is a mess. It’s a frustrating read that spins futilely through its 512 pages desperately looking for interesting characters or engaging narrative drive. But, as with the medical procedure at the center of the novel, it fails in interesting ways ... Briddey and C.B. never have time to come into focus. On the contrary, Briddey's most vivid character trait is her beleaguered distraction ... In Crosstalk, romance and paranoia keep interrupting each other, until you're left with a burble of irritating, disconnected voices and a nagging desire to silence them by closing the book.