Bellwether by Connie Willis
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
A huge thanks to Nenia for recommending this when I asked for a Nerd Romance. This was exactly what I wanted and more. I can't even begin to classify this into a genre. It's so distinctive. First of all, it's hilarious! I felt like Connie Willis nailed what it's like to work in Corporate America. I could have changed the name of HiTek to the places I worked and it would have been exactly the same. The complete waste of time exercises they come up with in the hopes that it will increase productivity (when it actually interferes with it), the jive turkey meetings, and horrible acronyms, and the fact that said environment is so fertile for folks like Flip, Desiderata, and even Dr. Bullock. I loved the wry and deadpan humor. I mainly listened to this while I was doing my Wii Fit exercises, and this is one where you can't be quiet while you read. It made the exercise time fly by!
Sandra is a very accessible heroine. While she does have a snarky way of looking at the world, and the narrator has her sounding a bit superior at times, her inner voice is very realistic. You don't always see people in the most charitable ways internally, even when you make an effort to treat others well. Sandra's field of study is fascinating. She's a sociologist/statistician who investigates fads. I loved the facts about various fads throughout the many years of human history. While I feel that she is really a hater of Barbies and I like Barbies, I can't argue with her on most of what she says. I loved how Sandra processed Flip, who is a complete slave to fads and seems about the most useless person on earth. Flip is that person you know who just seems to make your life a living 'you know what', but then you realize that they do have a purpose in your life, and they help you to grow as a person. With that in mind, her sometimes superior way of looking at Flip and folks like her is put into complete perspective. I also loved how Sandra is a big reader and she processes life events in light of what she's read. This book is definitely for bibliophiles.
Can I tell you I adored Bennet? Oh my, he made my Nerd Love meter go off big time. I wanted to hug him with his horribly fashion-challenged self and his adorable Coke Bottle glasses. Man I wish I could find a Bennett of my own. :)
The sheep storyline had me dying of laughter. Yeah, sheep aren't the brightest animals, and you really understand why they need shepherds. I had no idea about the bellwether and it just draws the story together so well when we learn about it.
I tell you, this is a really clever and just wonderful book. It takes a lot of writing talent to take such dissimilar ideas as sheep, fads, Chaos theory and hair bobbing and actually craft a meaningful story around it. A nice sized read. It helped me enormously with my book reading slump because it was just so clever and vivid and kept me interested. I never thought I'd enjoy a book about something so non-specific as research into fads. I surely did. I definitely recommend this to readers who want something different. And for sure to those looking for Nerd Love and satire about the corporate work environment. It hits high on every point, so five stars!
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