February 2, 2016
The Spaceship Next Door, by Gene Doucette
The world changed on a Tuesday. When a spaceship landed in an open field in the quiet mill town of Sorrow Falls, Massachusetts, everyone realized humankind was not alone in the universe. With that realization, everyone freaked out for a little while. Or, almost everyone. The residents of Sorrow Falls took the news pretty well. This could have been due to a particular local quality of unflappability, or it could have been that in three years, the ship did exactly nothing other than sit quietly in that field, and nobody understood the full extent of this nothing the ship was doing better than the people who lived right next door. Sixteen-year-old Annie Collins is one of the ship’s closest neighbors. Once upon a time she took every last theory about the ship seriously, whether it was advanced by an adult, or by a peer. Surely one of the theories would be proven true eventually—if not several of them—the very minute the ship decided to do something. Annie is starting to think this will never happen. One late August morning, a little over three years since the ship landed, Edgar Somerville arrived in town. Ed’s a government operative posing as a journalist, which is obvious to Annie—and pretty much everyone else he meets—almost immediately. He has a lot of questions that need answers, because he thinks everyone is wrong: the ship is doing something, and he needs Annie’s help to figure out what that is. Annie is a good choice for tour guide. She already knows everyone in town and when Ed’s theory is proven correct—something is apocalyptically wrong in Sorrow Falls—she’s a pretty good person to have around. As a matter of fact, Annie Collins might be the most important person on the planet. She just doesn’t know it.
I requested The Spaceship Next Door when I saw it on NetGalley because I like sci-fi, and it had high ratings and reviews on Goodreads. As many have suggested, TSND works well for the YA audience. No romance anywhere to be seen, so it’s safe for probably any teenager. The story was easy to read, and the writing had a conversational feel to it.
I liked the protagonist, Annie Collins, and the ending made me smile, as I read what I suspected my young daughter would do in the same situation. I highly recommend TSND for younger readers or anyone who wants a light sci-fi.
Gene Doucette is a novelist, screenwriter, playwright, humorist, blogger, and occasional essayist. His novels, Immortal, Hellenic Immortal and Fixer have been published by The Writer’s Coffee Shop Publishing House, with both of the Immortal books–best-sellers for the publisher—released in 2012 and Fixer scheduled to debut in 2013. Prior to novel-writing, Gene was published as a humorist with Beating Up Daddy, Vacations and Other Errors in Judgment, and The OTHER Worst-Case Scenario Survival Handbook. As a screenwriter, Gene’s screenplay Charlatan is a feature length spec script that won the Scriptwriting Network’s Hollywood Outreach Program, based on his unpublished novel by the same name. His short screenplay Parting was produced by 386Films and is available for viewing online. As a playwright, Gene has had a number of stage plays produced, such as Deus Ex Quanta, Artifact, and In the Valley of the Shadow. Gene lives in Cambridge, MA, with his wife and two children.