REVIEW: Graffiti on the Wall of the Universe (Sorrow Falls Series, Book 3) by Gene Doucette

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Annie Collins emerged from the wreckage of the last invasion of Sorrow Falls with a spaceship in her garden, a loud alien idea in her head, and—because returning to college was out of the question—a lot of free time.

What she chose to do with the idea, the spaceship, and all that free time, kickstarted a worldwide technological boom. Now, nine years later, it seems as if not a day passes without the announcement of a new breakthrough in something, be it quantum computing, nuclear energy, neurobiology, or some other esoteric corner of cutting-edge science.

The world is in the middle of a revolution of ideas, and the best part? Hardly anyone knows Annie’s involved at all.

Yes, everything seems to be working out just great…until the day another spaceship shows up in Sorrow Falls.

This new visitor seems just like the one buried in Annie’s garden: same design, same matte black hull, sitting in the same spot in the same empty field. But there are important differences.

For starters, if it’s truly a spaceship at all, it didn’t come from space; it just… appeared. Also, this one didn’t arrive alone. On the same day Sorrow Falls acquired a new spaceship, identical versions manifested in over a dozen locations across the world. All of them just sitting there, not doing anything.

At first.

Who sent these new ships? Why did they send them? What do they want? Annie—with Ed, and Violet, and the rest of the Sorrow Falls survivors—are going to have to figure that out, and fast. Because this time around, they don’t have three years to work with; they barely have three months before the end of the world.

Graffiti on the Wall of the Universe is the exciting follow-up to The Spaceship Next Door and The Frequency of Aliens.

“You want to tell the president there’s a hole in space-time on his north lawn?”

Dear Mr. Doucette, 

Yay Annie Collins and Shippie are back. I was thrilled to see another book about Sorrow Falls. This time I knew to just relax and let the story flow. Could new readers to the series start here? Um, probably not even though the past events and characters from previous books who show up here are introduced and information gently provided. By which I mean no huge infodumps. But … nah, people need to at least read book one, “The Spaceship Next Door,” first.  

Also, and this was mostly just a general complaint, how come humanity couldn’t get any regular aliens? Like, the kind that flew in from outer space, landed somewhere important, walked out of their ship on however many legs they happened to have, and introduced themselves and/or started firing ray guns at everyone? Wouldn’t that be nice?

Years ago, Annie became “connected” to an alien “mind” and learned something wonderful. But this wonderful idea is far too advanced for humanity as it is now. So Annie has been gently nudging scientists along, encouraging ideas that could drive inventions, that could repeat this, thus developing further ideas, inventions, etc, until eventually, hopefully that wonderful idea will be realized. The tech is frankly amazing. But before we all enter a bright new world, things go to hell. In a handcart. On greased wheels. And when disaster arrives, this time it just might be partly Annie’s fault. Can she head off this latest crisis, save the world (again), and keep her sanity? 

“Very nearly every major scientific breakthrough or technological advancement from the past six years is represented here. We can debate intent all afternoon, but the fact is, we’re heading into a future designed by Annie Collins. And she’s never explained why she did all this, or how she knows what she knows.”

As I’ve done previously, I would advise readers to find a comfy chair – one that fits you perfectly, just sit down, relax, and take your time reading this book. It’s a long one (498 pages in the Kindle edition). Yeah, you’ll be there a while. Read slowly, take it in because it’s all important and can’t be rushed. There is a large cast of characters – some new ones to go with a few old timers from the previous books. Once again we get some “the same but different” as this world evolves and keeps moving forward. 

“We’re meeting someone named Hondo?”

“You’ll like him. He’s our kind of paranoid.”

“I didn’t think we had a kind.”

“Sure we do; the kind of paranoid that’s probably right.”

There might also be a bit of a romance pending for our Annie if she can figure out just what the heck is going on and survive it. Thankfully Sam, Ed, and Dobbs are there to pick up on some things, put a few clues together, and do a little research into what might be occurring as weird shadow monsters appear in areas close to where some hush, hush tech is located. Once that is done, the world is still in shit shape as the shadow creatures change and begin doing something that could quickly destroy life on Earth. And Mars as the colony there is undergoing the same thing but worse as they’re limited to the habitat for their survival. 

“He’d stopped by three times since that afternoon to talk some more (he said,) and Annie was having trouble figuring out if he was actually trying to flirt with her or not, because she was terrible at figuring out when anyone was flirting with her. She thought probably yes, but she was basing that on a complicated metric involving the expressiveness of her bodyguards’ eyebrows. She was using the same metric to determine if she was flirting back.

I never thought that I’d read a book that manages to combine aspects of the Allegory of the Cave along with Horton Hears a Who plus quantum physics but by gosh, here it is. Having tried to read and work my mind around Plato’s allegory before, after reading this I understood maybe a bit more of it and how the tech that Annie encouraged writes “graffiti on the wall” that kickstarts what happens. Communication – it’s important, especially when dealing with aliens. It’s easy to see how undergoing what she has in the past has changed her into an “older soul” who will never be totally carefree, wants to be left alone, and how the events in this book are something she would appreciate talking through with a bestie.

“Let me see if I can put all that into a narrative that makes sense,” she said. “Two species, both more advanced than we are, both dealing with the same problem. One of them is extinct and the other isn’t. We don’t know what the one that survived did, and we don’t know what about these things caused the other one’s extinction. What we do know, is that we’re not far from the oh-God-we’re-all-gonna-die part of this progression.”

Is this the end of alien encounters in Sorrow Falls? Well, honestly I thought the end had come after each of the first two books but here we are for book three so – who knows. If there is more, I will be there for it. If this is the end of the line for Annie, Shippie, Ed, Dobbs, Cora, Sam, Doug, Oona, Laura and the others … well, okay, too. It’s been a strange/ charming, in/out, up/down adventure that I’ve enjoyed. B      

~Jayne        

Violet said, “do you want to talk about what happened? I have reviewed your statements; it’s clear there’s more to it.”

“Oh my God, yes,” Annie said, leaning back in the chair. “Get comfortable.”

“I am incapable of discomfort in my current form.”

“Just an expression, Vi.”

“I know,” Violet said. “Go on.”

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Jayne

Another long time reader who read romance novels in her teens, then took a long break before started back again about 25 years ago. She enjoys historical romance/fiction best, likes contemporaries, action- adventure and mysteries, will read suspense if there’s no TSTL characters and is currently reading more fantasy and SciFi.

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