Nicholas Karpuk's Reviews > Bellwether

Bellwether by Connie Willis
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's review
Jul 20, 2012

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Read on July 20, 2012

Three stars is an odd conclusion to arrive at when I hated virtually everyone except the two main characters. But I really enjoyed their interactions and their growing relationship. Even the science fun facts were enjoyable, since I've read entire books that essentially functioned as such.

But damn Willis seems to have her hackles up about young people. Everyone in this story under the age of 30 is rude, shallow, and a constant slave to trends. I get that it's probably supposed to be comedic, but it doesn't get much of any laughs and mostly just makes them unpleasant to read about. I don't think Willis' really appreciated that you can lampoon a character while still giving relatable traits to your caricature.

They come off as thinly written while playing it off as satirical, but mocking people who follow trends is a line of comedy that dried up long before she had written this book. More than one fifties musical mined that territory, and it wasn't even all that funny then.

The two main characters fussing over sheep in the name of science provided far more laughs than attempts to dehumanize young people for the sake of a failed laugh.

John Scalzi referred to such behavior as the John Galt Maneuver, where characters become either a straw man or a super man to advance the agenda or the beliefs of the author. Beyond its dubiousness as a rhetorical tactic, it also makes for crap writing.

There's more humor in the foolishness of sympathetic character than in shrill stereotypes. What we're left with here is a great book trapped inside a terrible book.
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Reading Progress

65.0% "Willis is quite cross with young people and their rudeness! I can almost hear her cane shaking in the air."
04/01/2016 marked as: read

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message 1: by J. (new) - added it

J. If she wanted to portray the under 30 crowd more accurately she should have made them all extremely self important.

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