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3.9 out of 5 stars330
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on 21 November 2013
Somewhere around page ten I was on the verge of giving up—but I'm glad I didn't.

First, the negative. Just one, but it's usually a killer: the author is just not a very good writer. The characterisation seems at first blush to be cartoonishly one-dimensional. The prose is somewhere in the early teen-readers' style of unvaryingly linear happenings, listed one after another, and with so little depth to the writing the happenings arrive thick, fast and almost bewildering. It can't be good when the nearest thing to reflective depth is regular chunks of techie exposition. Add a core plotline of Famous Five-style "teens against evil plotters" and it's a recipe for disaster.

But, but ...

But ... it is actually, despite all that, an entertaining, even though-provoking ride. It actually does grab you and reel you in.

Unlike so much fiction, faction and fantasy based on Area 51-type conspiracy theories, the author knows enough science and technology to help us suspend our disbelief. He knows his stuff, and it's the special sauce that really helps ratchet up the interest. The pace of the plot helps to blur the landscape of clunking prose simply by whizzing past it, and regular cliff-hangers become gripping and satisfying.

This book made me realise how easy it is to be a literary snob: I am chastened, and glad that I kept turning the pages. Having nearly abandoned ship, I am pleased to report that this was a good read ... and, of course, auhtorial weaknesses notwithstanding, he is a damned sight better than Dan Brown. Give it a chance!
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Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
The Second Ship is actually the first book of a trilogy (?) 'The Rho Agenda' and should really be considered as just the beginning of the story, because the book is not complete in itself. The breaks between the three books seem to be arbitrary, and the storyline could just as easily have been divided into four shorter books or edited down to just one fat tome.

At first I thought it was standard Young Adult fare, but there is rather too much gratuitous gore and violence for this market, and, alas, the author seems to find it necessary for the plot. Much of the writing is sloppy and self-indulgent, which rather detracts from quite a good story, and I feel it could have benefited greatly from some careful editing to reduce the length and tidy up the English. It all feels too quick and easy and while it might appear fine while rushing through it, if put down for a break it suddenly becomes rather too unconvincing.

As has been mentioned in the blurb the plot centres on three High School students and their family, helpers and just a couple of powerful foes who manage to turn the Government against our heroes. The three discover the Second Ship, the one the Government knows nothing about, and are changed by their experience and combat the forces unleashed by the essence contained within the first ship.

However, one of the nice points in the trilogy is that at no time can we be certain which of the two ships is 'good' and which is 'evil'; in fact both might be evil, or good, as far as we on Earth are concerned. And it is this uncertainty which kept the books alive for me. And there are enough strings left untied after the third book that I think there must be yet another book to come.

If you read one book of 'The Rho Agenda' sequence, it is essential to read the other parts to best appreciate what happens, and why, in the one you have just read. My copy was a Vine bound proof edition, and I don't think I would have bothered to buy it if browsing in a bookshop.

Immune is part 2
Wormhole is part 3
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VINE VOICEon 12 December 2012
Firstly, lets just say I indulged my strange passion for Sci-fi reads and purchased this one. I knew from the start it was to be a trilogy - maybe more (?, hopefully!).
The books' main characters are strong, well depicted and the author keeps the pace up from page one to the ending of this one, leaving you bated for breath for Volume II (Immune).

The main characters are teenagers, presumably to appeal to this mass market exploring the vast area of supernatural and out-of this world alien eruption of books recently thrust on the market over the last 10 years. I like reading books aimed at children because I have those and granchildren beyond and I want to be current with what is out there and available so I can be the one to recommend one.

The teens tumble into or onto more correctly an alien spacecraft, a matching pair to a secret hidden by the US Government (#670,520,860 in the approx numbers of secrets hidden). They unlock the secrets of the alien spacecraft and discover not only a new world exists but gain powers from the ship. Then battle lines are drawn. Not only between the kids and the government who would as always rather keep them secret and hidden away, but between earth and the prospect of a serious alien invasion. No don't stop reading now. This is not 'another alien invasion'. It is a carefully planned and executed addictive book. It does hold the reader close to the last page and wanting for more. If you like sci-fi, earth based style, then it does not matter what age you are this is a good read. Recommended.
and panting for Immune!The Second Ship (The Rho Agenda: Book One)
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on 27 November 2010
Firstly, this was an incredibly enjoyable novel. Secondly, it's so darn cheap why would you not take the risk if had any doubt it wasn't going to be fabulous read.

I purchased this on a gamble; it only had 2 reviews, the plot seemed interesting although a bit done to death, and it was only 69 pence. Man was I blown away. I found the story to be a fresh take on the "Roswell" event, fresh, exciting, well paced, interesting characters and a plot which I didn't see coming. If I had to guess the cost after purchase I would have said £8 (which is usually what you pay for top shelf ebooks at Amazon).

I was expecting the story to be about an alien ship, some kids and some trouble they got up to. I didn't expect to be reading about NSA, psychotic killers, and ... well I'll stop here as I don't want to spoil it but suffice it to say I'm a hard one to please and I was gladly surprised. The story just kept taking turns I hadn't expected which is something I always appreciate.

I've since read the second book in the series and can't WAIT to read the third - which I'm guessing is still being written. The second book didn't disappoint either.
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on 27 February 2011
I had rather been put off by the Author's note about putting three high school students into 'such increasingly violent content' - I rather felt it was going to be SF horror. However, I did pick up the sample and was very glad that I did.

As others have said that the idea behind the book is that there are two ships that landed at Roswell, although one remains hidden from the authorities.

This book concentrates the majority of the time on the three young adults and their journey and relationship with the Second Ship. The author catches well the interplay between the three as they develop and we see more of their characters.

Other characters are also brought in, and some we read more of in the second book.

While initially this book deals with the first ship, there are other interesting ideas: good vs bad, the human desire for more technology, utilising the brain's full potential, and good old greed.

I really enjoyed the book and now I await the third in the series.
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on 14 May 2011
I certainly won't forget my first reading experience on the Kindle. I haven't really read science-fiction since I was a kid, but I felt like returning to the genre and stumbled on this book after buying my first Kindle e-reader. It was a captivating, engaging and, at times, thrilling read by a writer who knows how to tell a good story and clearly enjoys the experience. It's competently written and at times you feel that you're in the hands of a writer who knows how to play with language and structure in order to keep the writer guessing and in suspense. I'll certainly read the second book, as the world the writer creates is a convincing and enjoyable one to inhabit. Characterisation is there too, so it's certainly no shallow read. I hope the writer goes from strength to strength and I'm pleased that this was my first Kindle book. It got me used to the Kindle and got me back into the genre!
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VINE VOICEon 8 October 2012
Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )|Verified Purchase
The alleged crash-landing in the United States of an alien spaceship in 1948 has been the subject of much speculation and has involved the expenditure of vast amounts of printer's ink.

The idea behind the three 'Rho Agenda' science-fiction novels takes this much further and involves the discovery of a second spaceship by a group of three extremely intelligent teenagers who, after experimenting with some of the ship's highly advanced technology find their intelligence, IT capabilities and physical prowess have been vastly enhanced. Running parallel with this storyline are the nefarious plans of the Deputy Director responsible for investigating the technology of the first spaceship.

Unfortunately - although the storyline is clever - the 1,500 page length of the trilogy strikes me as excessive and, in many ways, the style of writing is reminiscent of the type of science-fiction common years ago to publications such as 'Boy's Own'.

My personal jury is still out and it may be that, as I read Books Two and Three, I'll change my mind but at the moment I suspect the trilogy will prove to be an extremely light, very lengthy and mildly enjoyable read.

But I'll definitely update these comments after I've finished reading the final two books of the trilogy.


A personal opinion after reading Books Two and Three

No change - the books are light, lengthy and, at the end of the day, not particularly enjoyable. For an in-depth opinion see my reviews of Wormhole (The Rho Agenda) and Immune (The Rho Agenda). And, of course, reviews by other readers.
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on 7 January 2013
I got this through the Amazon lending library. Thankfully. Even free this is an expensive book.

There are so many stereotypical characters in this book. Megalomaniacs so bad that even for American politicians they are awful. There are sadists, murderers, psychopaths, religious nutters and school children. Sometimes they can be all these in a single character too.

The basic plot line feeds off the Area 51 notion of a crashed UFO. That's the X-files bit over and done with. There is a release of alien technology and the doom for the world of course. Then there are a bunch of kids who know better than everyone else, of course..

This is the first book in ages that I look forwards to putting down and dread picking up. I gave it the stars because the science aspects are well considered and explained, because despite the loathsome characters I did want to know happened though I could happily skip chapters.

Big question now is will I bother to finish it?

Yes, I finished it. I'm glad I stuck it out. The characters didn't get any better. In fact the towards the end the biggest thought I had was that this was merely an attempt at a book of a script of one of those second rate TV movies where you've never heard of any of the actors.

I did like the science and the basic premise of the story. I still didn't like the characters. I'll not bother reading any more of this series. So change in the stars.
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on 5 November 2014
Mixed themes, a complete mish - mash of a high school kids` adventure, physics text book, CIA wet work assassins killing people in gruesome and graphic ways and an alien conspiracy cover-up.

You can tell this is the author's first attempt at fiction. The prose is stilted, doesn't flow and there are far too many quaint American phrases and terms the author uses in the narrative that are lost on an international audience.

I started with Once Dead, the 4th Rho book. Had I read this first, I suspect I wouldn't have bothered. Once Dead is an enjoyable read, but this - this is painful to wade through and is the first lending library novel that I found hard to get to the end of.
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VINE VOICEon 30 September 2012
Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
This is an odd book. Half is written as if it is for the teen 'Roswell' market, and the other half as if sadism is the next in-thing. You will be pleased to hear that these 2 halves alternate (not half a book of one, and then half of the other, thank God!)Initially I found this so bemusing I kept reading out of sheer interest in whether the wheels would come off the plot. In fact the plot is well-constructed, and I was able to forgive what I initially thought was sheer unpleasant psycho killer stuff for its own sake. The style romps along, sometimes slowed by the odd dose of impenetrable Physics babble. Hwever, I have to accept that some hard Sci-Fi fans rather like that kind of thing.

But what am I saying? 'Hard Sci Fi fans'? Surely this is aimed at the Rioswell watching My Little Pony/Scoobie Doo cartoon reading teen audience. No? Maybe it's aimed at the military Sci Fi audience? No? Maybe its aimed at the Steven King wannabee market? Maybe it's aimed at the X-File/Fringe audience? No? What a mess!

So why have I given this book 3 stars? because I have just read it in a day, ordered no 2 in the series and read that in a day (602 pages of it), and have now just ordered number 3, despite the one star review from a fellow Amazon Vine reviewer. I'm not sure I want to read it again. I REALLY disliked the torture/psycho/self-mutilation stuff embedded in the syrup. However, I just have to say that this guy is a talented writer. Much of the books are really quite thrilling, and one's brain doesnt have to be left at the door.

I suspect that the Rho series will polarise readers. I regard it as very flawed. However it's flawed like Frank Herbert and flawed like Gene Wolfe and even Dan Arbuthnot.
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