Blog tour: The Collapsing Wave by Doug Johnstone

The Collapsing Wave

This post is part of a blog tour organised by Random Things Blog Tours. I received a free copy of the book in return for an honest review.

‘Six months since the earth-shattering events of The Space Between Us, the revelatory hope of the aliens’ visit has turned to dust and the creatures have disappeared into the water off Scotland’s west coast.

‘Teenager Lennox and grieving mother Heather are being held in New Broom, a makeshift US military base, the subject of experiments, alongside the Enceladons who have been captured by the authorities.

‘Ava, who has given birth, is awaiting the jury verdict at her trial for the murder of her husband. And MI7 agent Oscar Fellowes, who has been sidelined by the US military, is beginning to think he might be on the wrong side of history.

‘When alien Sandy makes contact, Lennox and Heather make a plan to escape with Ava. All three of them are heading for a profound confrontation between the worst of humanity and a possible brighter future, as the stakes get higher for the alien Enceladons and the entire human race…’

The Collapsing Wave

The Collapsing Wave, by Doug Johnstone, picks up a few months after the events of The Space Between Us.

Following their life-changing extraterrestrial encounter, Lennox and Heather are being held by US soldiers at a hastily thrown-together facility near Loch Broom, where the Enceladons were last sighted, and are soon joined by Ava and baby Chloe, too.

The military’s brief is a simple one: find the Enceladons, and eliminate them. By experimenting on their captives – human and cephalopod – they aim to discover how they can achieve this.

Once again, it’s up to Lennox, Heather, and Ava – and some old and new friends they pick up along the way – to escape the authorities and help the interplanetary refugees they’ve come to know and love.

Like its predecessor, The Collapsing Wave is a highly imaginative, stirring story that packs in wonder and big truths while moving at breakneck pace.

It was great to be reunited with Lennox, Heather, and Ava. They’ve been through – are still going through – a lot, and it’s realistic that all three continue to be scarred from their past traumas despite their extraordinary experiences. At the same time, they manage to access reserves of strength, determination, and hope they didn’t know they had.

Of course, I got the most joy from the reappearance of Enceladon Sandy, who is just as endearing as before. I loved seeing them reconnect with the trio, especially young Lennox.

These sweet and wholesome elements are well-balanced by the heartless cruelties of the staff at the military base, many of whom are unable to perceive the aliens as anything other than a threat, quick to use violence, and unmoved even when they cause distress to Chloe in the course of their “experiments”.

This adds further weight to a big question implicit in The Space Between Us: if aliens really did invade, would the dominant reaction be curiosity or violence? I have a horrible feeling the latter would win out.

I like to think I’d be one of the curious ones, though. I’ve said it before, but I love how I always learn new, fascinating things from Johnstone’s books – he has a real knack for seamlessly incorporating relatively simple explanations of novel and complex things into his stories.

I got a real feeling of wonder about all the phenomena out there that I (and humanity more generally) don’t even know about yet. It cuts both ways: our heroes struggle to get the peaceful, plural Enceladons to understand the concept of evil, and that each human is an individual entity.

In fact, the Enceladons’ plurality particularly drew my attention this time, having recently read Akwaeke Emezi’s Freshwater, and Ada Hoffmann’s The Fallen and The Infinite, which also address the topic of plurality – albeit in humans in very different settings and circumstances. Like these authors, Johnstone succeeds in explaining this concept in a creative and digestible way.

The Collapsing Wave is stirring, tense, and full of wonder.

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About Alice Violett

Writer of blogs and short stories, reader of books, player of board games, lover of cats, editor of web content, haver of PhD.

Colchester, UK