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The Spaceship Next Door by Gene Doucette
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The Spaceship Next Door

by Gene Doucette

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I loved this book. Thought the writing style was fine, though I listened to the audio version so perhaps it's written for verbalization. I highly recommend that version.

The story explores what happens when first contact is made in a small, New England town. Most books posit sturm and drang when this happens. Doucette takes us in a very different direction - and ends with a brilliant conclusion, subtle, and deftly handled. I can't wait to read more. ( )
  OliviainNJ | Mar 29, 2017 |
This book could have used much stronger (or any) editing at every stage. It reads like a NaNoWriMo project: word count is king. When the author has a choice to leave anything out of the story, or put it in, he always puts it in. If he can show it by way of character-driven dialogue or just tell us about it through narration, he always narrates it. If he can narrate it in 2 words or 200 words, he narrates it in 200 words. If he can add even more words to the narration by contradicting everything he’s just said, he’ll do that too.

I’ll give you an example. It will be painful.

The 2nd chapter (where the actual characters are first introduced) begins: “There were about 17 different ways to get to main street from Annie’s front door by bicycle. Annie had tried all of them, and like to brag about it in circumstances where such bragging was appropriate—which wasn’t all that often.” First of all what kid, even a smart or nerdy one, brags about the number of routes to main street?? Why would you remark on the fact that someone liked to brag about it but only under certain circumstances? What exactly are these circumstances where it’s “appropriate” to brag about how many routes there are into town from your house, as if anyone would care?

It goes rapidly downhill from there. The next long, plodding sentence ends “…she never bothered to count them so the real number was likely closer to ten or eleven.” Okaaay but sure, she likes to brag that there are **seventeen**, an oddly specific number that implies she has counted them. But it doesn’t stop! The author then begins describing each of the routes in detail, throwing out street names and landmarks without any reference to anything the reader can have a grasp on. “Two of those ways were over bridges on the south side of main, that were impossible for her to use without having begun on the wrong side of the river.” What am I supposed to imagine here? That “two of those ways” weren’t actually ways at all?

After all of this, the subject of the routes from Annie's house—or even the fact that she uses a bike—never comes up again. It’s completely irrelevant to the story. Also, all of the things you might reasonably infer about Annie from this introduction — that she’s a nerd, a liar, possibly autistic, that she obsesses over transportation — also turn out to be dead ends. The whole opening is just misleading filler, written almost on purpose to baffle your imagination.

The rest of the book is just more of the same.

“What character would you cut from The Spaceship Next Door?”
Without a doubt, the narrator. The ponderous novel would become a highly entertaining half-hour listen. ( )
  joeld | Feb 25, 2017 |
Astoundingly good read! I love stories like this...interesting premise, realistic characters, and a conclusion that leaves you going "whoa!" ( )
  bkjake | Sep 12, 2016 |
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