Novels Review

The Frequency of Aliens by Gene Doucette

Written by ibxis

Annie Collins is back!

Becoming an overnight celebrity at age sixteen should have been a lot more fun. Yes, there were times when it was extremely cool, but when the newness of it all wore off, Annie Collins was left with a permanent security detail and the kind of constant scrutiny that makes the college experience especially awkward.

Not helping matters: she’s the only kid in school with her own pet spaceship.

She would love it if things found some kind of normal, but as long as she has control of the most lethal—and only—interstellar vehicle in existence, that isn’t going to happen. Worse, things appear to be going in the other direction. Instead of everyone getting used to the idea of ​​the ship, the complaints are getting louder. Public opinion is turning, and the demands that Annie turn over the ship are becoming more frequent. It doesn’t help that everyone seems to think Annie is giving them nightmares.

Nightmares aren’t the only weird things going on lately. A government telescope in California has been abandoned, and nobody seems to know why.

The man called on to investigate—Edgar Somerville—has become the go-to guy whenever there’s something odd going on, which has been pretty common lately. So far, nothing has panned out: no aliens or zombies or anything else that might be deemed legitimately peculiar… but now may be different, and not just because Ed can’t find an easy explanation. This isn’t the only telescope where people have gone missing, and the clues left behind lead back to Annie.

It all adds up to a new threat that the world may just need saving from, requiring the help of all the Sorrow Falls survivors. The question is: are they saving the world with Annie Collins, or are they saving it from her?

Dear Mr. Doucette,

Wow yeah, I really meant to get back to the second book in the Sorrow Falls series before this. But here I am, finally finishing it up. It’s a good thing I’m used to the slow but steady way these books are written because this time I wasn’t as impatient for Stuff to happen as I was when reading “The Spaceship Next Door.”

I think this book managed to capture that elusive “the same but different” imperative that readers want for series books. Most of the characters from “Spaceship” were back and doing fairly similar things – overall – yet they’ve been allowed to progress a bit. Annie Collins – the teen with her own spaceship – is now nineteen and in the first year of college. After she was propelled to world attention when the alien ship that had landed and was sitting in Annie’s hometown for three years, finally Did Something and Annie was the one who saved The Planet and All Humankind, Annie spent three years first doing the media tour as well as negotiating her position with world powers. Annie had no intention of becoming someone upon whom scientists could experiment to learn what she’d learned while in contact with the alien or someone lunatics could assassinate in order to get their hands on the ship. World Powers, especially US powers might not like this but – fuck it – Annie didn’t care. What she wanted was a bit of normality and that included going to college which she managed pretty well despite having her own Secret Service detail.

Now however more shit is happening. Suddenly Annie is seeing a ghost, scientists are disappearing from various government run telescope facilities around the world, and the tide of feeling against Annie and the fact that she and only she can control the spaceship are growing. Something strange is happening but no one is quite sure what it is. When the shit hits the fan – and it will – it’s going to take a lot of Annie’s survivalist friends, military friends and one Ed Somerville to try and help her save the world again. But have they used up all their tricks and “save the world gimmes?”

Can readers start here if they haven’t read “Spaceship?” Hmmm, maybe. The exposition that is used here to relay what happened in book one dovetails well with the narrative style of slowly doling out information. There’s no choice but to sit back and just let the story unfold at its own pace with dabbles of backstory lightly sprinkled along the way. The scenes switch back and forth from one character to another as things begin to build and once again, I was along for the ride as I didn’t know where things were going and couldn’t guess what was going to happen next. I liked this but again, I was a bit more ready for it this time.

There is a fair amount of hand waving when details are either being made up or explaining stuff would serve little purpose other than to grind the story into a crawl and be confusing. Sure fine, I’ll go with that. The deadpan humor had me laughing and – yippee – there are more zombies. I won’t describe them more than that. Are there aliens? Why yes, yes there are. Do they come in peace? Perhaps. Or maybe not. I don’t think any repeat characters have been drastically changed – meaning no 180 degree personality flips – so what “Spaceship” readers and love – or hate – remember is the same. Annie’s still smarter than the average bear and has about as much faith in the government as a bear would. The climax is climactic but there was a point when I wondered “Am I going to get a happy ending here or not?”

The book ends with closure and some more, acceptable, hand waving. There is some violence, some shooting, and (again sly pokes at) some use of government force that anyone with strong thoughts about those things needs to be ready for. But nonetheless I was caught up in the unfolding plot and wanted to know what was going to happen next and how this was going to be accomplished so… win. B


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Another long time reader who read romance novels in her teens, then took a long break before started back again about 25 years ago. She enjoys historical romance/fiction best, likes contemporaries, action- adventure and mysteries, will read suspense if there’s no TSTL characters and is currently reading more fantasy and SciFi.

→ Jayne

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