REVIEW: Second Coming by D. B. Borton
In SECOND COMING, Hank Jones isn’t kidnapped by aliens. He goes voluntarily. It’s spring break. His freshmen have taken their bad grammar and bad attitudes to Florida. His dissertation is going nowhere and his ex is sleeping with his dissertation director. So when two aliens walk into a bar in Bloomington, Indiana, looking for directions, he’s their man.
And they need help. It’s 2007, and they haven’t visited Earth since the 1950s, so their cultural information, like their clothing, is sadly outdated. The android who’s had an Elvis makeover doesn’t even know that his idol is dead.
Hank finds himself riding shotgun to Washington and joining a mission to save the Earth from annihilation. The good news is that the spacemen acquire a long list of Facebook friends and blog followers, as well as a hotel suite full of promotional tee shirts and Elvis memorabilia. The bad news is that Americans would rather hear an off-key rendition of “Hound Dog” than a message about global destruction.
SECOND COMING is a comic novel about celebrity in 21st-century America, the seductiveness of consumer culture, the self-destructiveness of the human race, and the pleasures of friendship, dogs, and rock ‘n roll.
Dear Ms. Borton,
I haven’t had the greatest luck with “space aliens visit Earth” novels so despite the engaging blurb, I approached it with caution. The excerpt completely won me over and I wanted to see how Lawrence and Elvis were going to try and save the planet and what Hank’s role would be in helping them.
As I already hinted, it has a great start: funny and amusing. The opening bar scene in Indiana as Hank, Larry and Elvis got slightly tipsy and barely escaped the pissed off Hoosier fans was a hoot. The ride on the spaceship sounded cool with just enough bemusement and attempted logical explanations from Hank to himself to try and grasp what was going on. I enjoyed getting to know Larry, Elvis – and wow, they’re dedicated to trying to save Earth in spite of us – and Hank plus old hippie friend Robbie.
Then we’re off to DC where the boys hope to spread their message after some shopping to blend in, salsa lessons, listening to Elvis’s mangling of English slang – an interesting mix of 1950s and current – then the start of their newly hired managers handling of the social media.
After the press conference at Smithsonian, I’ll be honest it started getting boring. Lots of things seemed random and pointless. Why the dog? What was the purpose of the basketball game? Why did Hank meet Charlotte? The religious fanatics swinging Bibles? Okay that one makes some sense with “end of days” worries. The entourage just kept getting bigger and I couldn’t keep names straight anymore. And there’s way too much detail about what everyone is wearing. What guy notices this as much as Hank does? I felt lost here and waiting for the real stuff, especially getting the message out to save the planet, to start happening again. Yeah, the message. What happened to global destruction if we don’t shape up and not threaten other planets? Finally! Oprah arrives as well as Letterman.
I kept hoping all the extraneous stuff might finally get tied together. Please. Eventually a little bit of it did but then another episode just sort of went sideways and I’m thinking “the hell?”. It was a bit funny but I guess I just didn’t see the whole point.
Then suddenly – time to go! The aliens have delivered the message – perhaps if the extraterrestrials give us another warning/chance they might want to try the UK, Australia or Denmark, Sweden or Norway to be their host nation. The goodbyes were touching but I think I wanted a bit more reassurance that the Earth had learned something and had promised to behave. B-