Top critical review
A good start to a new series
on 22 October 2012
The Forgotten is a very enjoyable book which, as other reviewers may have commented on, reads like the novelization of a televised Blake's 7 story.
It is similar (probably deliberately) in style to Target's range of Doctor Who books in the 1970s and 1980s. For any Blake's 7 fan, how can you not be excited by that?
I love Blake's 7 and I so desperately wanted a novel that would do justice to its legacy and make me feel as though I was reading a missing adventure.
The Forgotten starts off really well. A typical early series 1 opener, with the Liberator crew making a raid on a Federation outpost. The dialogue between the characters is very in-keeping with the series. I could truly visualise every scene and almost convince myself I'd seen the story on TV.
In some respects it feels like a mash up of several B7 episodes (Duel, The Web, Breakdown and Bounty leap to mind), but it has the right vibe and it drew me in. The plot is good and there is plenty of action. In short, it's a page turner.
But the book isn't perfect. About a third of the way in, and (in my opinion) the tone starts to feel wrong. There was no swearing in the TV series, and for me, the bad language in this book is unnecessary and jarring. Also, the casual violence, while not being gory or excessive, just didn't feel very Blake's 7.
The quality of the writing suffers the longer the book goes on. Part of the problem is that the writers try and cover the point of view of pretty much every character in the novel. That stretches the story too thinly, and the result is that some of the character motivations are over-egged in order to make up for the lack of room to do justice to everybody.
A lot of characters snarl and spit their dialogue, when perhaps a simple 'he said' would suffice, if there was more depth to each scene.
I would have preferred to see a story that explored the differences between Blake's revolutionary ideals and that of his counterpart, Lant, in a more subtle and satisfying way. The idea of these two character going head to head is a really good one and it never really got explored on screen. The writers could have made more of it.
It's not an easy thing to do of course, and I can see why the writers went for a broader approach in terms of style and scope. And it was good fun. But if you're pitching a book at the price range that it is in (my copy cost me £7.49), then you need to deliver quality, and that includes a more thorough grammar and typo check.
I'll definitely be buying the next one in the series, which (I think) is written by Paul Darrow! Can't wait.