The Spaceship Next Door by Gene Doucette

Three years ago, a spaceship landed in an open field in the quiet mill town of Sorrow Falls, Massachusetts. It never opened its doors, and for all that time, the townspeople have wondered why the ship landed there, and what—or who—could be inside.

Then one day a government operative—posing as a journalist—arrives in town, asking questions. He discovers sixteen-year-old Annie Collins, one of the ship’s closest neighbors and a local fixture known throughout the town, who has some of the answers.

As a matter of fact, Annie Collins might be the most important person on the planet. She just doesn’t know it.

Normally when a spaceship lands on Earth, major things start to happen rather quickly. At least, that’s how most movies portray first contact.

The Spaceship Next Door takes a different approach. When the spaceship lands, nothing happens. It just sits in a small field for more than three years. No one can get too close due to an unnatural psychological deterrent and bullets vanish in a spark of light.

When Ed, a government analyst, comes to Sorrow Falls, it slowly becomes apparent that the spaceship has been doing something. The effects are just subtle. And more alarmingly, there appears to be a human hand print on the ship that has been considered untouchable for three years.

Annie knows Ed isn’t the journalist he claims to be, but offers to show him around Sorrow Falls anyway. She’s connected to nearly everyone in the town, including several of the soldiers at the local army base.

This book started out as an introspective, small-town story with witty prose and colorful characters. I was reminded a bit of Maggie Stiefvater’s writing, where subtle humor and turns of phrase would stick with me after reading them.

Eventually, the book morphs into something… well, I’m honestly not quite sure. The pacing takes a left turn and accelerates to breakneck, which was somewhat unexpected given my impression of the rest of the novel. The focus on characters becomes a focus on action and plot twists. To be fair, that’s not a bad thing. Many people—including myself, sometimes—prefer that style of writing. But the tonal shift was jarring.

Overall, this was an interesting read. I think I would have enjoyed it more if it had been more consistently plot-driven or character focused, but it was entertaining all the same.

 

 

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