1 out of 1 found this review helpful.
The Taking of Chelsea 426 is a good, atmospheric story, with a strong and intricate plot, but unfortunately I didn't find it as immersive as I would have hoped.
For the first hour or so, there is very little in the way of actual plot development. The Doctor arrives on Chelsea 426 and slowly starts to get to know some of the people on the colony. While this might not sound particularly exciting, it is actually quite well-written and certainly never boring. The colonists clearly see their planet as a utopian paradise where everything is as it should be, whereas the listener will recognize the restrictions, dullness and the aversion to change underlying this society. This disparity creates an interesting build-up of tension and a great sense of creeping menace, but paradoxically, it also prevented me from really getting immersed in this story. The city and the people just don't seem properly alive. And it is very hard to warm to a society that is quite so joyless and to people who's only passion seems to be to keep out newcomers and to avert any kind of change. The only exception are Jake and Vienna, two children from the colony, who are likeable and pro-active and who decide to help the Doctor in foiling the alien incursion.
The action really gets going once the Sontarans arrive on the scene. From there on in, there are a number of clever plots and ploys on both sides of the fight to keep the story suspenseful throughout. The Sontarans aren't portrayed as comedy alien warriors for once, which I found quite refreshing. I don't want to spoil any big plot developments, so I'm just going to say that there is a brilliant twist to the Sontarans' presence on Chelsea 426 that I didn't see coming at all and which drives a large part of the story.
Christopher Ryan delivers a nicely paced, engaging reading. Plus he is truly excellent at getting across the 10th Doctor's exuberance and manages to neatly capture his speech patterns, which makes this very enjoyable to listen to.
Overall, The Taking of Chelsea 426 is a great story that is never boring, but at the same time not quite as gripping as it probably should have been. Still, an interesting take on the Sontarans and some good plotting definitely make this a worthwhile listen. Recommended.