Written by:
Connie Willis
Narrated by:
Kate Reading

Unabridged Audiobook

Release Date
February 2009
6 hours 30 minutes
Pop culture, chaos theory, and matters of the heart collide in this unique novella from the Hugo and Nebula Award–winning author of Doomsday Book.

Sandra Foster studies fads—from Barbie dolls to the grunge look—how they start and what they mean, for the HiTek corporation. Bennett O’Reilly studies monkey-group behavior and chaos theory for the same company. When the two are thrust together due to a misdelivered package and a run of seemingly bad luck, they find a joint project in a flock of sheep. What better animal to study both chaos theory and the herd mentality that so often characterizes human behavior? Unfortunately, Sandra and Bennett must endure a series of setbacks, heartbreaks, dead ends, and disasters before they are able to find answers to their questions—with the unintended help of the errant, forgetful, and careless office assistant Flip.
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Susan V.

Haha! This book was a sheer delight to listen to. Willis builds subtle humor in the characters, the plot, and the setting. I often found myself nodding my head, thinking, ‘Yeah! That could totally happen!’ or “Yep, been there. Done that.” The characters were immediately relatable. Sandra Foster is clever but also has some compassion (which not all of her coworkers do). Her study on fads and what causes them now has me interested in the subject as well! One of the best things about this book is all the little snippets of history worked into the story. Not only are there factoids about the hula hoop, hair bobs, and the Rubik’s cube, but also about sheep, ostriches, cuisine, and how famous scientists stumbled into an ‘Aha! moment’. While the indoor smoking dated the piece, it was interesting that Sandra considered the banishing of public smoking in buildings and restaurants a fad. Then there’s Flip. I think the universe uses Flip to try out the latest fads like her flop of hair, duct tape clothing items, and her eye tattoo. Flip is notoriously bad at her job and yet feels that too much is asked of her. She’s always complaining and yet likes Sandra because she’s one of the few people that isn’t openly mean to her. While Flip seems to be simply there to provide comedic relief or convenient plot devices, her role is eventually revealed to be much more important. I loved the sheep. We used to have goats, so I immediately sympathized with Bennett and Sandra on how difficult it was to get the sheep to do anything they wanted. Eventually, it’s revealed what a bellwether is in a sheep herd, and hence the meaning of the title. Or so I thought! Willis gives us another little twist on the bellwether towards the end of the book and it made me look at my co-workers, friends, and family in a different light. Aha! There’s the bellwether in my life! Thoroughly entertaining and educational. 5/5 stars. The Narration: Kate Reading gives a great performance. She makes a perfect Sandra Foster, being an insightful woman with a touch of humor. Her masculine voices are also well done. I especially liked her voices for Management and their fake enthusiasm at the Team Building Exercises. Her voice for Flip was spot on, sounding bored and put out and occasionally needy. There were no recording issues. 5/5 stars.

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