Book: Dead Ringers

"Dead Ringers"

What happens when you can’t even trust the face in the mirror?

Tess Devlin runs into her ex-husband, Nick, on a Boston sidewalk, and is furious when he pretends not to know her. Afterwards, Tess calls his cell to have it out with him…only to discover that he’s in New Hampshire with his current girlfriend. But if Nick’s not in Boston, who was the person she encountered on the street? Then there’s Frank Lindbergh, who left his grim past behind and never looked back. But now that both of his parents are dead and he’s back in his childhood home, he’s assaulted by an intruder in his living room–a man who could be his brutal, violent twin…if it weren’t for the fact that Frank is an only child.

Dead Ringers was an elusive find. My local bookstores don’t carry most of Christopher Golden’s recent books, so I usually end up ordering them online–or I trawl through bookstores when I’m out of the country to see if I can find them. I picked Dead Ringers up at a Forbidden Planet, if memory serves me right.

But was it worth the effort?

I liked the book enough. The premise was easy enough to follow, and Golden continues to be a master in providing haunting imagery… But as a whole, I found myself nitpicking on the story structure.

Reading the back cover, and starting the book, you get a sense that the horrifying “dead ringers” phenomenon is widespread. Although we mostly follow what happens to the aforementioned Tess and Frank, we also get a sprinkling of random characters who are affected by something supernatural. Which, again, creates this belief that something sinister is happening everywhere.

But then the circles our characters move in start to grow small. Which is fine if the story had been preparing us for that… But it wasn’t. So it felt like a sudden turn when certain revelations tell us that our characters are linked to each other. It also felt like a bit of a cop out for me. Because prior to the revelations, I was at the edge of my seat worrying about what happens next or how the story would end– And then, with the reveal of how the characters are linked to each other, I immediately knew how the story was going to get resolved. And I wished that the book would prove me wrong.

It did not.

Still, I don’t regret buying Dead Ringers. I still enjoyed the book for what it was. I just wish that Golden had gone a different direction to where the story ultimately ended up.

Television: Doctor Who and the Almost People

"Doctor Who: The Almost People"As the solar storm rages, Jennifer, a Ganger driven mad by the memories of being “decommissioned”, is seeking revenge. She can remember every excruciating second of every “execution” and is determined that the humans will pay. And she isn’t just talking war; she’s talking revolution. As the crumbling factory fills with toxic fumes and drips lethal acid, the “Originals” wait desperately for the shuttle from the Mainland to rescue them. But Jennifer has other ideas. Can the Doctor convince the terrified factory workers to embrace their own humanity and work together with their Gangers to overcome a monster of their own making?

Wow.

That was my first reaction after watching The Almost People. Wow. I mean, how else would you react when you find out that so-and-so wasn’t who you thought they were?

Now, truth be told, while I really liked last week’s episode The Rebel Flesh, it didn’t quite live up to the excitement I felt after watching The Doctor’s Wife. So coming into The Almost People, I was more or less without any expectations. And that was a good thing, now that I’ve seen the episode.

I’m not saying that because I think the episode was bad. Far from it. I think this episode was brilliant. It’s still not up to par with Blink, or The Doctor’s Wife, and I have to admit the spoilers/speculations I’ve read did manage to snuff out the flames of excitement rather quickly. But hey, the episode was still amazingly written and plotted.

Though, I’m having a bit of a problem with the fact that the emotional weight of the two-parter rested with the guest characters. I mean, it’s well done, but I just don’t care about these characters as I do about the Doctor and about Amy and Rory. Sure they did get into precarious situations, but nothing so life-or-death that made me scoot to the edge of my seat hoping that they’d turn out okay. So there’s no physical endangerment to draw me in either.

And, honestly, unlike The Rebel Flesh, which had me pretty much glued to the screen, I was able to do other things while watching The Almost People.

So I guess what really made me go ‘wow!’ at the beginning of this post was the revelations in the end. The same revelations that were (a little) spoiled for me because I read people’s speculations. And now, while typing this post, I’m already rethinking my view on the episode. Did I really think it was brilliant? Or did my multi-tasking fool me into thinking I saw a great hour of television?

Next week, Doctor Who airs its mid-series finale–which means, my Doctor Who Sundays will also be taking a break after that episode. And because it’s the mid-series finale, I might not make a post about the episode until the following Monday, when I’ve fully digested everything that has happened in the first seven episodes of Doctor Who Series 6.