‘I dunno,’ announced Clara. ‘Last time I saw you, you were the valiant saviour of worlds. Now you have a magic spoon and a dodgy toe. Back home, you’d be hanging around outside the supermarket bins.’ The Doctor looked at me for reassurance. ‘This! This is what I have to put up with. Honestly, prison has been, in some ways, a lovely break.’THE BLOOD CELL BY JAMES GOSS
The first time I read The Blood Cell, there was the novelty of the narrator being neither the Doctor or their companion, Clara. The Governor is the main character. He’s responsible for some very dangerous criminals inside of a secure prison that’s literally at the arse end of space, so the staff are very much prisoners too. The Doctor does feel like a character on the periphery of the story and Clara less so. I liked Clara’s visits to the prison gates, hoping to get in or pass on something to the Doctor, but without success. It was amusing. It’s only really towards the finish of the book that the story picks up, when the prison has broken out, and Clara and the Doctor are reunited, along with the Governor. They are the remaining people left to put things right. I think the book was always gearing up to take this tone, and direction, but the actual Blood Cell of the title was implied to be something gruesome and yet … actually told you very little. ‘A fair amount of each prisoner had been taken away. And placed … placed into piles. I hope you’re squeamish. I know I am. So I shan’t describe it any further than that.’
With the story of the prison, the Governor, a particular prisoner and some of his other relationships with those in the prison, I found myself wondering what do I care? I couldn’t see what this had to do with the Doctor and Clara. It was political. It felt as if it took a while to get to that point of resolution. Different is good and The Blood Cell is different to other stories in this range. I liked some of the small details that were included. But my overall impression of the story was of it being hard going.
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