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on February 12, 2007
I'm a Sci-Fi fan, but I am SOOOoooo tired of the Roswell Alien story. I put the book down the second I found out it was ANOTHER Roswell story. However a friend couldn't stop raving about the book so I reluctantly gave it a read. I was pleasantly surprised. The book doesn't try to point out some overlooked detail and then try and convince the reader that maybe the whole thing was real. Instead it was a fast paced, first class piece of sci-fi work. The characters are interesting and have some depth. The technology described comes across not only as way cool but maybe even kind of possible. The main characters are teens but it's not a Harry Potter kind of book. It's an easy read but the writing is top quality. The only reason I didn't give it 5 stars is because "Book 2" is a must and if I don't get it I'm going to feel cheated.
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on November 29, 2010
First, be aware that the third book of this series is not out yet. Second, if torture/rape is a non-starter for you, look elsewhere. That stuff is not overly graphic and doesnt take up big pages, but its there. Ok, assuming your ok with these two things, lets get to the review.

I'll go over the plot a bit first. I'll provide the level of info sometimes found on a back cover, most of which is revealed in the first 10 pages. Its "safe" to read, but if you prefer to take 0 risk of the slightest spoiler, just skip the next paragraph.

Two ships fight high in the atmosphere in 1945 near Roswell and crash. Only one is discovered, and studied for 60 years. The deputy director of the project researching the ship has discovered some surprising things about it, and has his own, apparently evil, agenda. The second ship is discovered by three teens, and, for no reason other than that its necessary for the plot to move forward, they put the circlets they find inside the ship onto their heads at exactly the same time, a ship-mind connection is formed, and they learn that their ship was the good guys and the other ship is some sort of harbringer of destruction. From this beginning, we are off to the races, and treated to a mix of alien technologies, evil plots, secret agents, assassins, with some rape, torture and murder thrown in.

The book moves along fairly nicely, and is a breezy and easy read. Lots of action and the heroes are fairly likeable. A few issues knocked it down to 3 stars for me though. First, the three protagonists are teens, and there are teen romances, high school hazing and revenge. These parts of the book almost feel a little like a young adult novel -- but with the rape, torture and killings in the book, its clear that isnt the intent. Leaving aside the fact that teens + rape, torture and killing is, to say the least, an odd mix, the teen-focus comes with a level of predictability. The three protagonists are girl/boy twins and their bff, a female. You can predict several plot developments/twists from this alone.

As a 41 year old, I no longer relate that well to (mostly) goody two-shoes teens. Even though the fate of the world may be at stake, the teens would never dream of doing anything like skipping class or being late for something their parents want them to do. For example, in one scene (no spoiler, dont worry), a teacher confiscates something with potentially nightmarish consequences. Rather than just refusing to hand it over and walking out of class, the teen hands it over and (admittedly funny) hijinx are necessary to prevent total disaster. Are any teens really that slavishly bound to the rules? Maybe so, but I couldnt relate.

Another issue for me was the technology. I am *not* a hard science buff, and I didnt mind the relatively quick descriptions of the alien techs. Frankly, I usually skim that stuff anyway, so it never bothers me in books unless its excessive or totally out there. BUT when a sci-fi book jumps off from present times and describes things like the internet, cryptology and computer viruses, I apply a *somewhat* higher standard, and get annoyed if an author totally makes up his own version of these things. Cyber-punk is one thing, but that is set in the future. Here, we are apparently set in the present, but cryptology, the interet and computer viruses are not described with any realism whatsoever. I suppose this is a minor issue that may not bother everyone. However, there is one incredibly painful sequence where the teens decide they have to send an untraceable message, and come up with the most convoluted, illogical and technologically non-sensical plan of how to do it, involving a silly mix of cryptology and computer viruses.

Finally, I guess I'm a little jaded to books jumping off from modern times that feature kids discovering alien techs, secret government agencies and massive conspiracies. Its just a little harder for this type of book to grab me, because, as a well-read adult, it all feels so familiar.

The book seems popular and highly rated here on amazon, and I dont regret buying it for .99 or reading it. I did enjoy it, and it moved reasonably well. I dont think anyone is odd for giving it 4 or 5 stars. I enjoyed it to a modest degree -- I just, personally, found it a bit forgettable.
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on August 24, 2009
I really appreciated this book. I love science fiction/thriller type books, but sometimes they are lacking in plot and believability. I have to say that this was one of the most INTELLIGENT books in this genre I have read.

I read the author's bio on the back of the book and noticed that he has the background to write this book. And it definitely shows.
The book centers on a space ship known as the Rho ship hidden by the government, three teens who find a second ship (hence the title of the book), and various mercenaries and government plots involved with the technology of the ships. The teens have started exploring the Second ship, learning about it, letting it learn them, and wisely keeping it a bit of a secret. I love the fact that Mr. Phillips didn't dumb down the teens. I'm not TOO far from that age group, myself, and I've often despaired of the fact that teens are treated as if they don't have a brain and can't make mature decisions.

Unfortunately there is one person aware of the second ship. A person who sees it as a sort of God-given gift to him. He's more or less inconsequential, but he IS a lesson.
The Rho ship that the government has found, and is releasing technology bit by bit to the public is a pawn used by various people. People blinded by science, and so, willing to lay aside the morality of their decisions. People after something greater, but in a gray way we're not privy to yet. And of course people who want what it yields for the perceived power of controlling the world.

The technology in this book is great. Computers on the Second ship are mind controlled. The ship computer enhances the abilities of the human mind from the 10% we use now to full capacity. The technology of both ships can be used for good. Or for, not exactly evil, but selfish reasons. For delusions of grandeur, for power, for manipulation. All the things that make us so very human.
The Second Ship explores who we are, what we are, and what we could be if given the chance. But is that "chance" for the best?
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on July 16, 2009
This book sometimes feels like it was targeted at a younger audience, but the themes involved and some of the more graphic scenes are definitely mature. This trend really becomes noticeable in the sequel, when things really get nasty sometimes. My only problems with the story stem from the somewhat overpowered main characters; the alien technology really does some impressive stuff.
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on February 18, 2013
First, a positive. The idea for the plot is great.

That being said, I'm struggling to understand how this book has so many positive reviews. My best guess is that it has mostly been read by young readers, because I found this book extremely difficult to read for several reasons:

Unnecessary plot developments - The book goes back and forth with little episodes that have absolutely no meaning to the overall plot. This book could have been cut in half and still retained everything needed to tell the story.

Shallow characters that are introduced frequently and then disappear. Let's introduce an assassin here, a religious freak there, a mean teacher who gets sick, so the spy can be the substitute teacher, etc. Way too many characters.

Poor conversations - The conversations are so poorly written, that I pretty much word-scanned them just to continue.

Several "jumping the shark" moments. Spies come to find out more about the main antagonist and just happen to befriend the parents of some of the main characters. Ridiculous. Kids' spy plane is placed on the antagonist's shelf. About as realistic as a cheesy soap opera.

Unreadable for me. I wish I could get my money back. I do not recommend this book, and I will not be reading the sequels. Should be sold as a book for young readers.
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on April 6, 2013
I couldn't finish this. If you require your teen protagonists to be halfway believable, this isn't a book for you. They all talk like they're fresh out of Mayberry, it's a total disconnect with reality and the author seems to have no idea that his characters come across as paper dolls from a 1950s Hardy Boys novel. Dad's the breadwinner, Mom rules the roost, the kids all remember to do their homework and politely thank their parents for breakfast and run off to fly their model airplane. It's bizarre.

The writing is flat and clumsy - I stopped reading before any real science kicked in, because the characterization was just that bad. And it's not just the kids, the adults are similarly stupid. They do things because the plot requires those things to be done. Does it make sense that they take those actions? No, not in a million years. But heck, if that's what the story requires, by golly let's do it!

At least Reese Witherspoon's character was trying to escape Pleasantville. Here, no one seems to have any idea that they're mimicking an era almost 75 years gone, and one that arguably didn't even exist then.

I read this because of the Orson Scott Card praise. Based on this reading, and keeping in mind some of OSC's public statements and his charming gay panic revamp of Hamlet, I think I'm just going to have to stick to enjoying his early works and writing the man and his recent ideas off completely.
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on January 9, 2013
Having faith in the masses, and without paying more attention to the one and two star reviews, I bought all 3 of these books at once, expecting a great story. Well, the premise of the series really interests me, and I thought, how can anything be as bad as what the one star reviewers were saying. They were right. This is a badly written book.

I couldn't tell if the author was writing the book for 12 year old, or adult readers. Not that I mind a young adult book, but reading the dialog that the 3 main character use is really painful to do. The only thing worse then the three teens are their parents. My goodness, SO many cliche lines right out of some cheesy ABC after school special. These are supposedly high school juniors that at times act and talk like 10 year olds...then the next page are talking about writing computer viruses and algorithms for just sending an email. Hell, just go to the public library in a disguise and send an anonymous email. Seems like the author just wanted to show a little of his computer knowledge in the story. He also references "Comic Books" and cartoons several times, and in comparison this appeared more like a comic book, which, by the way, are usually better written than "The Second Ship". WOW! This is also the name of the ship the teens discovered, "The Second Ship". Brilliant! Also,I've seen "Spongebob Squarepants"episodes that were better written then this book.

I feel like an idiot and that I've been robbed. Buying these 3 books and only making it half way through the first. I should read these reviews a bit closer. Don't waste your money or time!
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on January 8, 2014
The good guys are the Bobbsey Twins raised by "Father Knows Best". The bad guys are the way a 13 year old boy who had just learned girls have naughty bits would have written Hannibal Lecter. So you have "Boring!" up against "Ewwww!" Throw in a couple of comic book heroes and you have the cast. Which is still better than the plot which is held together by "And then something magical happened and fixed it all!"

I've read worse but this is the first book I just tossed into the trash when I was done. I pulled it back out of course. Then I put it in the recycle bin where it belonged. My first really depressing thought of 2014 is that there are at least two more books in the series out there.
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on January 9, 2013
This, even for the mere $3 I bought it for, was in a word- horrid. The book zig zags around like a drunken plot for the whole course of the book, and then randomly ends with the sudden threat of death for a character we have heard about once in the course of the book and couldn't care less about. The protagonists are incredibly stupid, amazingly retarded, and leap to assumption to assumption over and over, magically being correct every time.

The author must only watch Star Trek on television, as the book is rife with non-nonsensical technobable, culminating most hilariously with "sub-space communicators" built with off the shelf electronics and powered from a high school science fair cold fusion reactor that are somehow able to (with proper coordinates that somehow these 12 year olds know) place random messages in top secret NSA networks these kids somehow know about.

Even then the book might be okay if the plot was at least interesting, but sadly it isn't. The very name of the book- the second ship, never is utilized in the story line other then making the teenage protagonists supermen. The kids randomly visit it for no reason occasionally, but that's about it. The first ship the kids are all scared about gives the president the secret of cold fusion which he releases to the world, which the kids are for some reason all up in arms about, even though they admit to themselves they don't have a good reason to be angry about. The main villain of the book for the first 3/4ths of the book simply sits in a lab and works after killing a random scientist in the first couple chapters and glares at the kids a couple chapters later. One of the protagonists suddenly gets a boy friend who leads a weird cult that literally does nothing other than gruesomely crucifying him (in graphic detail) every meeting. Characters are introduced that literally never talk, meet or have anything to do with the storyline have large chunks of the text devoted to them only to randomly die for no reason before doing anything other than going on sadistic sexual predator rampages that are graphically described.

So please, unless you're buying this as a joke gift for a writer friend of yours for 99 cents- stay far far far away from this book and its author.
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on December 9, 2012
How do you rate this book 5 stars? How? This book is god awful. The plot is ridiculous, the characters are one dimensional, the dialogue is at a thrid grade level, and just boring. This book is for 10-12 year old kids. I want my money back.
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