book review, Robert Appleton, science fiction

Alien Safari: White Water by Robert Appleton

While conducting a river tour on the alien planet she calls home, Jan and her dog Stopper see a little girl fall into the river just as a storm hits them. Stopper jumps in to save the girl, but the storm whips them away into the night.

Elsewhere in the galaxy, Vaughn watches in amazement as a fugitive climbs into a box and disappears. Before he can investigate further, the call comes through. Stopper is missing, and Jan needs Vaughn back on Hesperidia to help her find him.

I loved the first Alien Safari book and I was eager to dive into the sequel. What adventures would Vaughn, Jan and Stopper have next?

A lot of interesting things happen in this book. The first half is essentially a search for Stopper. Being an animal lover, and knowing the pain of a missing pet, I could understand Jan’s determination to find her dog. The scenes written from Stopper’s point of view were what I liked best about this story. The dog’s perspective on the world was interesting, and I loved finding out more about the flora and fauna of Hesperidia. For books called Alien Safari, there isn’t enough trekking through the alien landscape for my liking.

Unfortunately, Jan didn’t come across as the brave, intelligent, resourceful woman I loved in the first book. Her actions seemed out of character. The addition of the universe’s dumbest child to the plot seemed unnecessary, especially when her aunt (who took her on the river tour) promptly disappears after screaming that her niece has gone overboard. As an aunt, I would do whatever I could to stop my niece falling into a river, but if I failed, I’d certainly kick up a stink about finding her and lead the search mission.

A strange group of divers also appears in the first half of the book, but they don’t really come into play until the second half. I found Jan’s reaction to them and their actions unbelievable.

The second half of the book concerns Vaughn and something he finds on the planet. The story and action is interesting enough, although there are parts of it that stretch credulity, and I felt the denouement was an epic cheat on behalf of the author.

Altogether, I was disappointed in this book. I think it could have been a lot better had the stories being told differently, but as it was I struggled to maintain interest.

I award Alien Safari: White Water

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