on 21 December 2001
I haven't read many of the Eigth Doctor novels as I came to the series late and want to read them from the beginning - of course many of the early titles are now difficult to get hold of, so i was particularly pleased to get a copy of Genocide - even more pleased as I found it impossible to put down - I'd had, what I consider, an unpleasant experience with The Taking of Planet 5 (who?what?where?when? - Whatever!!!) and having read a synopsis of Genocide was concerned that I might be in for more of the same - I needn't have worried. The characterisations were all crystal clear (I knew who everybody was all the way through the novel) - the plot, at first, seemed a little complex, but was, actually, incredibly well explained - and the descriptive narrative actually transported me to the african plains millions of years ago - great to see Jo Grant back and, at long last, as a grown up!
on 15 October 2012
I'll be honest and say I wasn't looking for to this stage in my read through of Eight Doctor novels. The sole reason for this is that I read a library copy of Genocide back in 1998/1999 and hated it.
Premise wise Genocide makes you feel a little bit underwhelmed. The TARDIS crew go to the future, and find out that the entire human race has never existed and the planet is owned by the friendly Tractites, A horse/ox like alien race. Maybe it is just me, but this idea just doesn't do it for me from the get go.
Paul Leonard really makes it difficult to get into as well. There is an prologue, some weird bit in italics presumably from the future of the story, a bit about some "friends of the Earth" people, A bit with the Doctor and Sam, and finally a bit about archaeologists / UNIT in the present day. Whilst most of it is well written and interesting there are just too many threads to keep up with in your head. Luckily it does settle down some what at around the 1/3rd mark but the start does feel a bit mish mashed and is fairly offputting. Overall the story is well thought out, and written exceedingly well. The Tractite Earth is very well described, and a lot of attention to detail has gone into it.
Character wise, I also found Paul Leonard to have missed the mark somewhat. The Doctor of Vampire Science and The Bodysnatchers was full of energy and keen to get involved and sort the problem out. Here he is happy to trudge along with the Tractites for a while, showing little enthusiasm at all, then when you think he is about to save the day, he gets captured and spends the rest of the book locked up. Sam fares a little better, her annoying teenage quirks are still there, as is her passion for saving the animals, Tractites in this case. Sam serves as the voice of the moral dilemma, however I struggle to believe that any human would want to save the Tractites, given that they have effectively wiped out the entire human race and stolen there planet, however nice they could be.
A nice touch was the return of Jo Grant who served with the 3rd Doctor. The years have changed her into a single mum who lives a very ordinary life but she soon gets thrown into the Tractite problem and does so with great gusto. However there is no real reason for her to be there at all. One of the other archaeologists could have served her purpose with ease. Also towards the end of the book she does something very un-Jo like, which shows the author really hasn't got a grasp of her character at all.
In summary Genocide wasn't nearly as bad as I remembered it to be. The first part is fragmented and pretty hard to follow, so when I was 16/17 I wouldn't have had a hope in hell, and that probably set me off on the wrong foot. Story wise it isn't my cup of tea either, but that doesn't necessarily make it a bad book. The themes are very grown up, and the author obviously wants you to think about genocide and the moral implications raised within the novel. All in all it delivers on the right level eventually so I can't really fault it, but for some reason I don't really like the book.
on 24 December 2001
The story of the alternative universe with a Tractite utopia is really well crafted and challenging. However, a bit of truth to character is, in my opinion, lacking. The climax depends on Jo Grant doing something that is wholly uncharacteristic in light of her development throughout the series, and it doesn't even seem necessary in light of the other story developments. Furthermore, it seemed rather odd that after the reunion of Jo and the Dr. there wouldn't even be a parting scene. These things ruined the book for me.
on 15 April 2011
Along with a short cameo for Regimental Sergeant Major Benton, Jo Grant is back poking her nose into danger again. This is an older Jo, that despite her more mature years, still swiftly gets out of her depth. Well, she's got to do something, hasn't she? Unfortunately she doesn't get many scenes with the Doctor, which is a shame. I'd like to have seen how she would react more to a seemingly younger Doctor after all the years of being dominated and patronized by the Third Doctor.