Dr. Al Past spreads his literary wings outward to encompass the details of more characters in Distant Cousin (4): Regeneration. Like many later sequels in a series, this chapter of the saga of Barbie from Outer Space tries hard to broaden its context. Ana Darcy and Matt Mendez are still the stars, but the page count of DC4 covers a lot of terrain inhabited by their teenage kids, one of the kids’ friends, and an ex-Navy Seal who is sort of Ana’s personal bodyguard. Many new family members and others are included, too, in this new volume, but probably the most interesting is daughter Clio’s pet caracal, essentially an African bobcat. Regeneration is paced much like DC1 and DC3, somewhat slowly and emotionally involving, as opposed to action-packed like the shortest of the series, Distant Cousin: Repatriation. Unfortunately, I think this fourth book could have used a little more of the taut excitement of DC2.

Al Past introduced us to Ana Darcy in 2005 with the first Distant Cousin. Ms. Darcy is an E. T. for adults. She came to Earth in a small space pod she launched from the moon. She originally came from the distant planet Thoma, founded by some of our human ancestors so she looks just like us. She is an attractive single woman on the prowl, sort of like the one in the movie Species, except Ana is truly a lovely heroine who has come here to help us. She soon meets her future husband Matt Mendez in the first book. The couple have been living on an isolated ranch in quiet New Mexico long enough to have a pair of teenagers at the opening of this fourth book in the series. Ana and Matt have become wealthy philanthropists and a number of greedy bad guys have wanted to capture some of her valuable Thoman secrets. The author carries the story further from this point in the plot of DC4.

Regeneration develops its plot slowly enough to leave time for the emotions to bubble to the surface, but its development of momentum is a bit lackadaisical. This reminds me of a roller coaster that is never quite satisfying because the first hill is just not tall enough. DC4 easily earns four stars from me, but that fifth one is not quite ready to launch. Did I enjoy Regeneration more than the shorter, action-packed Repatriation? Yes, but I’m not sure this evaluation would be fair without saying that I am a fan of the emotion and romance of the series, not the action. This one gets an A in show-don’t-tell, but its plot momentum leaves a bit to be desired. There is no doubt that I thoroughly enjoyed this fourth Ana Darcy adventure from beginning to end. It just lacks the wow-factor so prevalent in the first three books of Dr. Past’s Distant Cousin Series. What more can you really ask of a third sequel?

(CreateSpace / 1-448-69856-1 / 978-1-448-69856-1 / September 2009 / 306 pages / $12.95 / Kindle $5 / B&N $9.32 / B&N e-book $3.57)

Floyd M. Orr is the author of Ker-Splash 2: The High Performance Powerboat Book (2010) and four others. He is the editor of PODBRAM, a book review blog, and the author of other blogs: Nonfiction in a Fictional Style and Tiddlerosis.

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