Monthly Archives: April 2022

Review: Daughter by Kate McLaughlin


Drawing inspiration from Netflix’s Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil, and Vile, Kate McLaughlin asks the question of what would it be like to be the teenage daughter of a notorious serial killer.

As Daughter begins, Scarlett has never known her father and her mother isn’t too keen to give her any details. As Scarlett balks at what she sees as her mother’s overly restrictive rules, she worries about the things many teenagers worry about — school, relationships, etc. Until one day when the FBI shows up at her house with news that Scarlett isn’t really her name and that she’s the daughter of a notorious serial killer who is dying and will only share details of some of his victims with his daughter. Suddenly, Scarlett’s life is less about the question of whether she should sleep with her potential new boyfriend and is about the question of if and how willing she is to help the FBI, all while being thrust into the media spotlight.

The portions of Daughter that detail Scarlett’s being thrust into the role of a reluctant celebrity and how the media wants to shatter her and her mother’s life (mom was married to said serial killer while he did the killings and even brought her home trinkets from his various victims) are among the novel’s more compelling. However, the novel falters a bit when Scarlett makes her decision and decides to meet with her father in prison to try and get any information she can in order to give the victims’ families some peace and closure. At this point, Scarlett seems far more mature than the character we’re presented with early on in the story and almost unnaturally calm n the face of a guy that McLaughlin wants us to buy as Hannibal Lecter if he had kids.

The novel also seems a bit unfocused in the second half when Scarlett meets up with the hot teenage son of the FBI profiler working on the case and the two seem to start hitting it off. McLaughlin has a lot of threads running through this one, though I honestly found the parts focusing on Scarlett’s turmoil of who her father is and what he did more compelling than the pages that feel grafted out of a young adult novel.

In the end, it all adds up to a solid start let down by a finish that doesn’t quite stick the landing.

I received a digital ARC of this novel via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

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Audiobook Review: Doctor Who and the Revenge of the Cybermen by Terrance Dicks

Doctor Who and the Revenge of the Cybermen: 4th Doctor Novelisation

“Revenge of the Cybermen” was never intended to be the season finale for Doctor Who’s twelfth season. It became the “de facto” end to the season when the BBC decided to hold over the already produced “Terror of the Zygons” for the next season in the fall.

So, if you’re expecting an epic, spine-tingling end to Tom Baker’s first season as the Doctor, you may be a bit disappointed. I’ve detailed my disappointments with the serial itself elsewhere, so I won’t rehash those here. Instead, I will attempt to review the Target novel version of this one.

Early on in my Doctor Who watching days, I checked the adaptation of “Revenge of the Cybermen” out of the library a lot. It was one of a dozen Target books reprinted in the United States under the Pinnacle banner — and to my mind, that meant it had to be one of the best the series and range had to offer.

Alas, “Revenge of the Cybermen” isn’t one of the best, but I wouldn’t say this adaptation is one of the worst that Terrance Dicks ever gave us. It does its best to translate the televised story faithfully to the printed page, though at times you can feel Dicks’ frustration at trying to make the (supposedly) emotionless Cybermen interesting on the printed page. This comes across a good bit when various Cybermen speak or when Dicks is forced to try and explain away why they’re acting emotionally when (technically) they shouldn’t have any emotional reaction to things.

Dicks does a bit better in translating the epic Vogan conflict to the printed page –or at least he helped this fan identify who was who in the conflict a bit better than the televised version did. Dicks seems to understand when to minimize certain aspects of the story (the gaping loopholes in the Cybermen’s plan) and when and what to expand and play up. He even tries to find an explanation for why Voya is able to toodle about the galaxy, though there is little explanation of why it comes so close to the Nerva Beacon.

All in all, it’s a good job with a script that was full of gaping holes to begin with. There isn’t a lot of depth given to the supporting cast, but this is far from the later fourth Doctor adventures when it feels like Dicks is only being given enough time to translate a shooting script to the printed page.

As an audiobook, this one works fairly well, though the nitpicky fan in me found it hard to hear Cybermen speaking in mechanical voices as opposed to what we saw in the original version. It’s an interesting choice and one that creates a consistent feel to the Cybermen audiobooks, even if it doesn’t line up with the televised version. Nicholas Briggs does solid work, even trying to give us his own take on the fourth Doctor, which is good but he’s no Jon Culshaw.

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Star Trek: Picard: Fly Me to the Moon

star-trek-picard-fly-me-to-the-moonAs Picard enters the mid-point of its second season, we’re treated to another episode that feels like it’s moving chess pieces on the board a bit.

This week, we meet Renee Picard, a distant aunt of Picard who was part of the Europa missions that first explored the galaxy, and Brent Spiner’s latest descendent of Dr. Noonian Soogh, who is exploring the field of genetic engineering to keep his daughter alive. Of course, said daughter is played by the same actress that plays Data’s daughter in season one – because, of course, she is.

Behind the scenes, Q is manipulating both parties for reasons that haven’t quite been made clear yet. Given that Q doesn’t experience time in quite the same linear fashion as we do, I can’t help but wonder what his overall end game here is. Has his interest and fascination with Picard turned to hatred, to the point that he’d change history to get back at him? Or are there changes to the continuum that are so radical that Q wants to stop PIcard from ever making them, dating back to the trial on the way to Farpoint station?

I’m not sure what Q’s agenda is – perhaps beyond getting his powers back. But I can’t help but feel that as Picard tries to save Renee Picard that he’s overlooking something fundamentally important with Dr. Soongh’s manipulation. It would be like Q to distract Picard and his crew with one thing while fundamentally altering something else to make the real changes.

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