Saturday, September 22, 2012

"The Second Ship" (Amazon Vine review)

"The Second Ship - The Rho Agenda: Book One" (of three) by Richard Phillips.

I ordered this SF novel through the Amazon Vine programme to review, and sadly it's an awful book. I also ordered the final volume which unfortunately I can't cancel as it's already shipped. Anyway, here's my review as posted on Amazon.
Clunky writing, cardboard characters, boring

I had so hoped to like this book, especially with volumes two and three coming along. The plot itself seemed to have potential: that Roswell was true - there was an alien starship but it was evil; plus there's a second, good starship, which will be discovered by three teenagers; and the survival of the earth is at stake. Unfortunately, the author has failed to make any of it fly.

"The Second Ship" begins to fail as writing almost immediately. None of the characters are remotely interesting as individuals: they are casual, disposable personae from the stereotype handbook. The chief baddie, Dr. Donald Stephenson, is 'the smartest man on the planet.' He has doctorates in Astrophysics, Mathematics and Chemistry and three Nobel Prizes before the age of 40. Yep, that could happen.

The three teenage heroes find the 'good starship' and despite being obnoxiously well-behaved, conscientious, upright and thoroughly conformist, they fail to tell anyone about it - including their parents who happen to work at the Los Alamos Roswell research facility. Well, that could happen.

Other reviewers have compared the writing to Enid Blyton (Three Go Down To The Starship?). I know what they meant - childlike motivations on the part of the 'characters'; a simplistic storyline which etches boredom into the reader's soul; contrived, painting-by-numbers plotting as holed as a sieve.

But the Blyton comparison insults Ms Blyton, who always made her stories fast-paced and interesting. Like other reviewers, I found this book unreadable and with disappointment at an opportunity lost (and with sadness for the author, who has clearly worked hard but basically can't write very well) I abandoned it.