Author: Connie Willis.
Sandra Foster studies fads – from Barbie dolls to the grunge look – how they start and what they mean. Bennet O’Reilly is a chaos theorist studying monkey group behavior. They both work for the HiTek corporation, strangers until a misdelivered package brings them together.It’s a moment of synchronicity – if not serendipity – which leads them into a chaotic system of their own, complete with a million-dollar research grant, caffe latte, tattoos, and a series of unlucky coincidences that leaves Bennett monkeyless, fundless, and nearly jobless. Sandra intercedes with a flock of sheep and an idea for a joint project. (After all, what better animal to study both chaos theory and the herd mentality that so often characterizes human behavior?) But scientific discovery is rarely straightforward and never simple and Sandra Bennett have to endure a series of setbacks, heartbreaks, dead ends, and disasters before they find their ultimate answer… (Published summary)
I really enjoyed this somewhat quirky, humorous scifi story. Well, I think it’s technically sci-fi (?), but it reads much more like realistic fic. Sandra practically stepped off the page, much more unique than all the “special snowflakes” that try too hard, with her curiosity and determination and constant patience-slash-aggravation with her coworkers. I knew I’d like her within the first two chapters, when she stopped by the library to check out a handful of books she had no intention of reading, just to save them from being thrown out.
I did see the romance coming, but I think that was kind of the point; that she was so caught up in figuring out what moves people that she didn’t notice what was going on in her own life.
It’s not an action-packed story, but the constant lowlevel office drama added hilarity to the main theme of Sandra’s struggle, and it’s not a difficult read. I finished it in one sitting.
Sexual Content: Character wondering about an acronym in the personal ads: ‘NS. What was NS? Nordic Skiing? Native American Shamanism? Natural sex? No sex? And here was NSO. No Sexual Organisms? I flipped back to the translation guide. Of course. Non Smoker Only.’ / Some kissing.
Violence: A herd of sheep is accidentally let loose in an office building, where they knock over + trample various equipment and papers and wreak general havoc. A couple people are butted/tripped up by sheep.
Other: One character is a smoker, and there’s a strong anti-smoking sentiment expressed throughout the book except by the main character, who’s mostly amused by the fad and thinks people should make their own choice.