A quest to find life elsewhere in the cosmos causes trouble on Earth in this sci-fi sequel from Bangs (Forsaken, 2011).
As he prepares to complete his journey from Los Angeles to Adelaide, Jarrod McKinley cannot seem to shake the “sense of evil” that seems to prevail. McKinley, who in the previous novel in this series helped to unravel a conspiracy fomented by a hypocritical reverend, now heads to Australia to examine a message purportedly from outer space. Galactic dispatches are, after all, the stuff that concerns McKinley and his colleagues at the center for the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, located at the breathtaking site of Wilpena Pound in South Australia. McKinley is eager to get there as this message mentions him specifically. Unfortunately for him, his fears are proven correct as he is kidnapped not long after disembarking from his flight. Though his captors wind up being more empathetic than he might have expected, why would aliens try to contact McKinley? As the plot unfolds, it includes aspects of McKinley’s growing ability to sense evil and many of the implications of uncovering life elsewhere in the universe (for example, how destructive would humans appear to a distant civilization?). Bangs delivers plenty of physical confrontations as well, although action sequences can lean toward the silly. This is the case when a boomerang partially diffuses a struggle (what else would one expect in Australia?), leaving a character “still rubbing his head” once the danger subsides. But McKinley’s adventures help to breathe new excitement into the hunt for aliens and all of the possibilities for actual contact. Who knew such an enticing, if sedentary, mission to listen to beings unknown could result in kidnapping, murder, shady characters, an unlikely hero (one villain describes McKinley as “just an overrated, low-level technician who got in over his head”), and all sorts of violent clashes? On the whole, readers intrigued by McKinley’s motivation to discover extraterrestrials will likely be eager to see how it all shakes out.
An appealing fictionalization of the mysteries surrounding humanity’s desire to communicate with aliens.