Gene Doucette (author) and Steve Carlson (narrator) provide the reader with an in-depth, engrossing, and engaging contemporary science fiction story called “The Spaceship Next Door”. What’s even better is that the events take place in a fictional town in my home state of Massachusetts; more on that later. The book is the first in a series, with the second currently available on Audible (The Frequency of Aliens) which I have not yet listened too but plan too. What type of events can happen when one day, out of the blue, a spaceship lands in your backyard? At first people are nervous and apprehensive, that is until they became complacent with this ship sitting there for nearly three years doing absolutely nothing. Yes, nothing. People mostly went about their daily lives and ignored the ship, that is until strange things begin to occur, and Annie is taken down a rabbit hole she never knew existed. Not simply odd, but really abnormal things begin to happen to nearly everyone in town. If you enjoy well developed and narrated works of science fiction, I recommend you pick up a copy and give it a listen. At times it is light-hearted, and other times it is very serious and emotional, but one thing is for sure, the book is never dull.
Taking a coming of age story, blend in a few alien plots from the X-Files, stir in some conspiracy theories, and a dash of apocalyptic events and you have a good idea of what to expect when listening to this story. The author did an exceptional job of entertaining while also information the reader through his book. The world and scenes were well defined, yet left room for one’s imagination. The characters were complex and likeable. When you add on top of it good writing and research, you get an exceptional book like this one. As one can see by other reviewers, this book stands out in a rather crowded space. The author was able to weave in enough humor and fun to make it enjoyable while also having a few scenes that invoke strong and intense emotional feelings. The book starts out with a bang and you feel it is going ninety miles an hour, and that is until you get near the end and look back to see that all the previous action was only traveling at twenty-five miles per hour. There is action, mystery, mayhem, but there is also plenty of down time to allow the reader the ability to surface and take a breath. What appeared odd at first was also all the tech the people living in a trailer pack possessed. We saw facial recognition systems, high-end military hardware, and more. It was fun, but at times seemed over the top. I’m hoping some of this will be addressed in the future parts of the series.
So, let me turn to the one issue I had with the book taking place in Massachusetts rather than Nevada, etc. The state is quite small in area and also contains a quite densely packed population. One statement in the book said that the government thought the aliens were quite inconsiderate for landing their ship in such a remote location; also near a trailer park. I was unable to think of any places in the state where this would be the case. Again, not a show-stopper in any way, but it did take me out of the story as I pondered where Sorrow Falls would be located. Now, if you put it in Montana or one of the many Western states where there are miles and miles between neighbors, I would have been OK with that.
Let me say, that the book’s narration by Steve Carlson has made me seek out other pieces narrated by him. This is his only work that I have listened too and I’m now a fan. His voice was very clean, sharp, and easy to listen too. He was able to articulate and add inflection to the many characters which really brought the book to life. I was quite amazed at this ability to even voice the words of a teenage girl and make it sound believable; this is no easy task and only shows his ability and skill all the more. I do not recall any audio artifacts while listening nor any issues with consistency of volume.
For parents and younger readers, the book does contain some discussions containing sexual subject matter and topics. There are a few references to our main character’s coming of age and her at puberty. There are a few scenes involving gender along with a few references containing alcohol and drug usage. There are a some mild and infrequest anti-religious references sprinkled in a few places throughout the book. All of these were very lightly used, but if you are offended by any of the above I would recommend you find a different book to listen too.
In summary, I’m glad I picked up this book and took the time to listen. I was worth both my credit and time. If you like fun and interesting coming of age stories with very good science fiction writing, you will not be disappointed. All I can leave you with is a recommendation for the book. Go have a listen.