A very different take on marketing and trends than the one presented in William Gibson’s “Pattern Recognition!” Still, this book has some similarities: they’re both non-sci-fi novels by authors known for their science fiction, and they both deal, thematically, with the human tendency toward ‘fads.’ However, where Gibson’s character Cayce has an almost psychic attunement to these trends, Willis’ narrator is a much less glamorous, stressed-out researcher who’s trying to understand how and why trends happen by attempting to track down the source of past fads. Plagued by the uniquely-fashionable but totally incompetent assistant, Flip (who is nearly the exact same character as ‘Bubbles’ in Absolutely Fabulous [at least, I kept seeing her]), her work takes her through the maze of academic research institutions, bureaucratic red tape and illogical management, a mysteriously attractive scientist who seems to be immune to trends – to say nothing of the flock of sheep! ;-)
I didn’t think this book was quite as good as either of the other Willis books I’ve read, but it was still definitely a fun and witty read.
Around page 70 I started to wonder if this book was going anywhere. Which isn't to say it wasn't enjoyable reading. I typically find Willis' writing to be a bit repetitive but this book also didn't seem to have a point. After finishing the book I can better see the context of the earlier chapters though I do feel like this was really the first half of what could have been a really exciting story.
Still I enjoyed this little novel. It's light, easy reading with a bit of a twist near the end. Recommended for reading on the bus or at the beach.
Willis' books, all of which are excellent, are either horribly bleak tragedies or madcap romances. I like the madcap romances best, and this is one of the best of those. Cloche hats! Sheep! Grantwriting! This book is guaranteed to put a smile on your face. Four stars.