The White Wolf by Gary Russell
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I think this might be my favorite of the Sarah Jane Adventures audios yet. Largely because it pulls together a bunch of disparate elements: a strange rural English village with a chalk figure of a wolf carved into the hill side nearby, tales of alien abductions, and missing memories. The first half of the story really keeps you guessing. Plus Luke, Clyde, and Rani all get their moments to shine - Russell just seems very good at capturing the way these characters act and talk.
It does fall down a bit at the conclusion, just by becoming more predictable - I found myself uttering the line, "It's a prison ship" a few moments before one of the characters got to say it. Crashed alien prison ships are becoming a bit of a standby in both TV and audio Sarah Jane Adventures. There are lots of good reasons for this: It ensures that the alien threat is of a size to be manageable by our heroes, and allows everything to be tidied up at the end, for one. It works, but I do think it's in danger of becoming a cliche.
A second minor niggle is really just a personal peeve of mine: The aliens need a chemical that's produced in human brains and is involved in the formation of memories. So, fair enough, they spend decades hanging around this English rural village, extracting the chemical from people's brains. But when humans start developing advanced biotechnology, do they ever think about contacting a biochemist and seeing if they can synthesize the stuff, potentially giving them access to huge supplies at much less risk? Nope, they prefer to keep doing the brain drain. I'll grant that we're probably talking about a neuropeptide here, and it's probably not trivial to synthesize. But I'd feel so much better if I'd just been told that they tried.
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