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Dissonance, by Rae Bruner, is about Sarah and James, two researchers at fictional St. Stephens University, who have discovered a previously undocumented life form, dubbed "Pandora". In addition to dealing with this startling discovery, they are also dealing with some personal issues. There's also a good amount of humor, usually involving James.

Tropes used in Dissonance include:


  • Baby Talk: Sarah talks this way to keep Pandora calm and distracted while James takes a blood sample.
  • Cats Are Mean: James' pet, Jason.

 James(on a mouse whose body Jason has been playing with): It's... it's not dead. You've... just been toying with it's broken body all night long? Keeping it just barely alive so you can watch it squirm and suffer?

Jason: *purrs, rubs against James's leg*

James: You're a monster, Jason. A cute, lovable monster.

  • Closer to Earth: This seems to be Sarah and James's relationship at first, but it's more that the two function differently--James adapts awkwardly to any situation, but adapts nonetheless, while Sarah has perfectly adapted herself to normalcy, and can't handle abnormal situations. (Notably, James is much less prone to insisting that something is impossible when it's clearly happening, though Pandora's strange enough to break even his composure at times.)
  • Curious as a Monkey: Pandora.
  • Cuteness Proximity: Gen can't wait to play with Pandora when she sees her. Once Sarah picks her up, she's reluctant to let her go. Or stop baby talking at her.
  • Dark and Troubled Past: One for each main character.
    • James lost his father to Alzheimer's Disease, which apparently destroyed his faith in god.

 James: When my mother died, my father always told me that god had a plan for those he allowed to pass. But god took my father years before he finally allowed him to pass.

    • Sarah (a lesbian) really wants to be a mother, and has for a while. She was inseminated once, but developed ovarian cancer, which she almost didn't recover from. She's no longer sure fate wants her to be a mother.

 Sarah: I think if I were meant to mother, there would be at least one positive sign.

      • It's also been revealed that when her "bible-thumping parents" found out she was gay, they refused to let her live in the same house.
  • Deadpan Snarker: James.
  • Deep-Immersion Gaming: We first see Gen shooting a teammate for not following her directions in an online game.
  • Deliberately Monochrome: The only color that regularly appears is yellow, although brown appears occasionally, and blood is sometimes red.
  • Good Shepherd: Pastor Peter.
  • Healing Paws: A mouse with a presumably broken spine starts moving again after some contact with Pandora. This trope is mentioned, but James points out that he only assumed it had a broken spine because it wasn't moving when he found Jason tormenting it.

 James: It's had so little contact with humans it hasn't learned it should be scared of us.

  • I'm Taking Her Home with Me: Gen wants to do this with Pandora. Sarah describes this as "Break[ing] every university policy, natural law, residential code and several rules of common sense."
  • Instant Web Hit: In order to prove Pandora isn't a hoax, James and Sarah upload some video footage to the internet. Sarah's friend Gen also does this, but her video is tellingly titled "Adorable Dora". It gets over 4.7 million views overnight.
  • Mama Bear: Pandora suddenly turns vicious to protect an injured mouse.

 James: Why is she so protective of that mouse?

Ceyla: Because as far as she knows you're the one who broke its spine on the first place?

James: ...Oh, right.

 Sarah: I don't mind them when they're safe in their cages but loose mice running around make me... uneasy.

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