Bellwether: A Novel by Connie Willis

bellwether cover imageSummary: A satirically comic novel about scientists trying to understand the world around them.

I needed something different to read, an audiobook novel, preferably a funny one. I looked around in the Audible Plus Catalog (audiobooks free to members) and picked Bellwether mostly because I enjoyed the humor of the two previous novels I had read by Connie Willis (and that it was short).

Bellwether felt like a good Christopher Buckley novel. It was written in the mid-90s and feels like it was written in the mid-90s. Sandra Foster is a statistician who studies fads. Most fads have something that you can point to as the cause. New colors become popular because of a technological change in development (car colors, appliances, or ways to make LED lights that allow different colors.) But some fads become popular without an apparent cause. Sandra studies these unknown cause fads to understand how they start and how to stop those that are a problem. The central fad her research is focused on is the rise of the Bob haircut, which does not seem to be explainable through technology, media, or social events. A random wrong package delivery introduces Sandra to Bennett O’Reilly, a chaos theorist immune to fads. That eventually leads to them working together, and what the reader knows from the start will be a romance.

This is far from a perfect book. It falls into too many tropes about “kids these days.” The fads presented seem only harmful and similar to the movie Idiocracy, where every fad seems to illustrate society getting dumber. But there are good parts and humor, and it was a decent story with a couple of plot twists, which kept the book moving. It was a quick audiobook, about six hours, and I listened to it over two days where I needed to be running errands, and it was good accompaniment. I would not run out and buy it, but as a free audiobook when I needed a change of pace, it was exactly what I needed.

Bellwether: A Novel by Connie Willis Purchase Links: Paperback, Kindle Edition, Audiobook

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