Friday, July 29

Trace Memory by David Llewellyn

In accordance with the FTC, Quill Café would like to disclose that the reviewer purchased this book. The opinions expressed are hers alone and no monetary compensation was offered to her by the author or publisher. Cover art is copyright of Random House UK and is used solely as an aide to the review.

Michael Bellini is just a local docker doing his job, until the crate he is meant to be retrieving explodes and kills his three co-workers. Soon he is transplanted into different places in time, with one particular memory. The label on the crate reads: Torchwood.

In present day, Torchwood is a secret organisation that deals with the strange and the…alien. The members of Torchwood are all bored out of their minds – for a change – when Michael comes blundering in, scared and confused.

It isn't long before all five members of Torchwood realise they have crossed paths with Michael before. How is this possible and what is the reason for Michael's random time travel? The answer lies in the mystery of the crate but what will become of Michael and who are the men in the bowler hats that seem to be following him?

I'm a sucker for intertwined storylines and I love me some time travel. Do you know what I love most? Well-written books. This one had me.

This book comes packed with a lot of science fiction goodness but it is more than anything an interesting exploration of characters. Not just a further insight into the members of Torchwood but a look at the life of Michael Bellini, whose world is torn apart and stitched together as an array of broken puzzle pieces, never quite connecting in the right order. It was fascinating to observe time in such an alternate fashion and witness the toll it took on Michael.

'Trace Memory' is one of many Torchwood novels but the first I picked up and read. You do not need to read any of the previous novels in order to read this one, although it does focus on the members of Torchwood, taking place near the beginning of the second season of the UK original series.

I picked this up because I wanted more from Torchwood. I wanted to know more about the characters I love and to see them all in action together again. It was a fandom craving but my prior interest in the series and the characters wasn't the only reason I loved this book. Like I said, I am a sucker for well-written fiction.

When I went to the science fiction section in the Strand bookstore, I think a wall of it was just Star Wars novels. That's how I thought of telivision-to-print sci-fi stories. Although I'd never read one, they seemed so mass produced. I thought, Could this really be any good? I don't know about the rest of them but 'Trace Memory' was.

I loved seeing into the character's pasts - for instance, Ianto's early experiences at Torchwood One - and getting glimpses into their lives before they joined Jack at Torchwood Three. Back story, while usually tedious, when tied in with current events and Michael's forever in-the-moment time stream, is very captivating.

Michael is a wonderful character. So vulnerable and tortured and confused. I liked seeing things as they were from his perspective as well as how he appeared to the other characters. It fleshed out his character so well and he became so much more than the fleeting moments in time he inhabited.

The greatest character insight next to Michael, was Jack Harkness: the immortal man. Jack has lived countless lives and is such a mystery. It was amazing to see more into his past and how one man's broken existence could affect him in such a small period of time.

I would recommend 'Trace Memory' by David Llewellyn to any Torchwood fan who wants more from the series but just as a good science fiction read. The author manages to take the extraordinary and materialize it in the reader's mind. I look forward to reading more of the Torchwood novels.

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