The Second Ship (The Rho Agenda, #1)

Back in the years of my naivete, I thought Amazon's recommendation system was pretty darn cool.  Because I am obsessed with checking things off of lists and competing with myself to see how many of the "1001 Books to Read before You Die" I can read (or at least attempt), I rather indiscriminately added titles to my TBR.

Poking around the dark recesses of my Kindle, shoving aside the digital dust bunnies, I found an ebook I had either purchased on the cheap as a Daily Deal or found for free.  Bonus, it was also on my TBR!  The Second Ship by Richard Phillips promised aliens, conspiracies, and more aliens.  Count me in!

Often, when colleagues express trepidation at having to work with teenagers because they are "scary," I remind them, "You, too, were once a teenager."  In the case of Richard Phillips, I actually doubt that.  His conception of how teenagers think, talk, and rationalize behavior is so completely wrong that it distracts from the rest of the book.  Unfortunately, the rest of the book isn't exactly engaging or original, so there is a lot of distraction from the poorly-written characters.

Jane, Mary Sue, and Joe (not their actual names: really it's Heather, Mark, and Jennifer) find an alien spacecraft in the desert near their homes in Los Alamos.  Their fathers work at the base, which is run by a so-obvious-it-hurts Bad Guy.  One day, the President announces that all of the myths about Roswell were true, and that Director Mwahaha-Evil has been studying the ship and discovered how to create cold fusion!  Hooray!  Never mind that nobody knows how it works.  I mean, it could be totally lethal to everything on Earth and spark a war with the Middle East over a sharp decrease in oil demand but NO BIG DEAL!  COLD FUSION, EVERYBODY!

Meanwhile, back at the ranch the secret spaceship discovered by the three most idiotic "teenagers" ever written...

Heather, Mark, and Jennifer, despite the author's repeated attempts to convince the reader that they are math, language, and sports geniuses, decide that putting alien neural technology on their heads is a Good Life Decision.  We have pages of "OMG IT HURTSSSSSS!" because the alien ship is literally rewiring their brains and then they decide, "Hey, let's do it again!"  Real geniuses, no?

So, the alien ship (which, after much discussion about finding the proper name, they decide to name The Second Ship) augments their natural physical and mental abilities.  Mark develops super-ultra-awesome reflexes and becomes the Best Basketball Player Ever, while one of the girls (I honestly don't remember which one because the author has no concept of individual character voices) becomes a math whiz and can see multiple dimensions and quantum equations and stuff in the air because ALIENS.

Because these kids are such GENIUSES, they decide to replicate alien technology using quantum entanglement (this is never actually explained because I'm afraid the author doesn't know how it would actually work) and then send their highly-advanced alien prototype flying in the desert right next to the super-secret military base and then WHOOPSIES.  Mayday!  Mayday!  They crash the quantum prototype and the Evil Director comes and yells at their dads and I gave up.

What's extraordinary about these "teen" characters is not just how flat they are, but how they waffle between reasoning like six-year-olds and speaking like 36-year-olds.  It's painful.  The *best* part was when one of the girls suggested sending an email to the NSA about the second alien ship.  Since they're all so smart, they would encode it so that it would be nearly-but-not-quite impossible to break, and send it from a burner account because the NSA can't track that.

Girls.  Come on.

I noticed that the ratings for the following books actually get lower, which I wasn't sure was possible, but is the reality.  Save your own neurons and skip this one, unless you think that interfacing with unknown alien technology is a Good Life Decision.


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