Reviewed By: newt5996
Review Date: 5/13/16 11:13 pm
1 out of 1 found this review helpful.
Imagine The Green Death’s environmental themes mixed with the scale of Logopolis. Now add in some extreme tension and some flowing prose and you will have Cat’s Cradle: Warhead. The novel sees the Doctor and Ace travelling the globe trying to take down the insidious Butler Institute, which is extremely reminiscent of International Electromatics and Global Chemicals. This time their secret is that they’re looking for people with telekinesis. The story flows nicely from one location to another, introducing and writing out many characters with time to kill a few of them off and develop Ace into someone much older. We see the return and death of Ace’s friend Shreela from Survival who has become a journalist and dies after the Doctor has her perform one last task. Ace has a mission in Turkey recovering some items and being, putting it lightly, an all-around badass. Some of the things Ace does are great as she goes along with the Doctor willingly.
The supporting characters are so many and have such varying levels of importance it is a wonder that Andrew Cartmel was able to make all of them unique. This even includes the child that befriends the Doctor, only appearing near the beginning and the end of the novel. You have tech genius Maria who helps get the plot going before leaving as she has no purpose. Vincent a perverted teenager who has telekinesis and has been put in suspended animation, also being a plot device and a well-developed character. Finally there is Justine who is pretty much a second companion for the Doctor until her end. It is Justine who has my favorite section of the book which is her drug trip as she goes along with the Doctor’s plans. Her arguments with Ace about magic are also really interesting to listen to.
The things Cartmel do best however are the facts that there isn’t one real villain of the piece, but there are just people who do different things. Some of these things are good, others bad, but all done by human beings. It creates some fascinating character drama and a compelling story that isn’t nearly as heavy handed as environmentalist stories often tend to have. With this there are a few problems with the novel. First and foremost, while I praised the characterization, keeping some of the people separate is very difficult as there is just so many of them to go around. This would be a worse problem if it wasn’t for the fact that all but maybe two of them are necessary in one way to the plot. The plot also gets confusing as you have to track where exactly in the world characters are, but once you figure that out you get some great pages on pages about them and their thoughts.
This novel does share a problem with Timewyrm: Apocalypse in that it doesn’t really fit in with the rest of the arc. So far we have no idea what the mysterious silver cat is and what it has to do with the TARDIS malfunctioning. There also is little of anything to do with the TARDIS and we start in media res, which shouldn’t be a surprise as Cartmel only thought the TARDIS should be a means to get to a place and not lingered on. Also the Butler Institute’s experiments don’t make much sense and only really come into effect near the end which has more problems. By the time you get to the last three chapters you have no idea how it is going to end and Cartmell does a really quick wrap-up without progressing the story arc.