Top critical review
Memory can be confusing
on 14 July 2014
(Review written by my son aged 15)
Initially, I ended up just reading the blurb of this book and very nearly dismissing it, mainly because I didn’t find it the most interesting idea for a Torchwood story. It also vaguely reminded me of some of the TV stories such as “Ghost Machine” and “To The Last Man” (which I have to admit aren’t my favourite stories). However, I looked at the cover and for some reason, my mind became 50-50. If you hate this book, you can’t deny that the cover is probably one of the best in Torchwood book series. Therefore, I decided to give it a shot.
After reading it, I’m really placed in two minds about this book. There are some great points to make about it and some bad ones. Let’s save the best until last and look at the bad points first.
Let’s kick off with the fact of inconsistent pacing. For this story to make sense, David Llewellyn needs to write a series of flashbacks to explain current events. However, these flashbacks take place at different times during the book and last for different times. The effect this has can make the reader feel like they’re reading multiple books in one, and they can sometimes lose track on what’s happened so far in the book. Secondly, the ending feels a bit off. Trying not to spoil it, the ending actually takes place in a flashback. After the flashback, we get a few more pages of pointless events in the present.
Now onto the good points. I love the main villains of this book! The two men in bowler hats that you can see behind Jack on the front cover are the main villains and look great. They are exactly the kind of villains I would like to see appear on the TV series, because sadly they don’t that much here, and they have so much more potential. Also, as I said earlier, ‘Trace Memory’ relies greatly on flashbacks and about 75% of it are flashbacks. These flashbacks thankfully take place around the earlier years of the Torchwood team. Jack’s flashbacks take place in the 60s, Owen’s are when he was an NHS doctor, Gwen’s are when she was in the police force, Toshiko’s are when she was a child in Japan and Ianto’s are when he was a member of Torchwood One. All of these flashbacks allow us to learn more about the main characters and flesh them out a bit more. Toshiko’s flashback is my favourite, but mainly because she’s my favourite character as well.
In conclusion, ‘Trace Memory’ isn’t as strong as David Llewellyn’s other Whoniverse book, “The Taking of Chelsea 426” and is one of the weaker stories. The pacing is inconsistent and sometimes confusing. However, the villains are great, as are the flashbacks. Worth a read after you’ve finished some other books in the Torchwood range.