This is my first 12th Doctor book and if all of them are as good as this one, I'll be the eventual owner of all of them. This book knocked my socks off, turning what I thought would be an easy, fun read into a thought-provoking and disturbing book.
We start out with an unnamed narrator, who is the Governor of a prison. He is talking to a prisoner named 428. After "losing" his possessions down the incinerator, including "a tiny pen-like thing," 428 is dumped into a prison no one can escape from - not even the Governor.
There is no info-dumping here. Indeed, information is given out so skimpily that you spend most of the story lost. Normally, that annoys me but this is the Governor's account and he tell his story very competently. At times it almost seems he's trying to lie to himself; to the reader he's quite truthful. You're told just enough along the way. In one of those cray reading coincidences, I was reading this at the same time as another first person account book and both(show spoiler)
The Governor of the prison is way more than he appears and the prison itself isn't as normal as it appears at first glance.
So where's the doctor, if you haven't guessed yet? He's in the prison, trying to save both prisoners and Guardians from a horrible fate. But who listens to just another prisoner? Clara pops in every once in awhile to keep things interesting, the best is when she comes bearing signs of support for the Doctor made by her class. She takes a bigger role towards the end of the book as everything rushes to the an end - one way or another!
The characters are wonderful. The original ones were very real and interesting. Since they took up a great deal of the story, they had to carry a lot of the plot and attention and they did it quite well. Each was given a chance to shine though I particularly loved Lafcardio, the former university professor turned prisoner/librarian and part of me liked the Governor as well. But truthfully, it's the Doctor and companion we came here to see and James Gross delivers them perfectly. I could hear Peter Capaldi's biting tone and Clara's sarcasm in their lines.
My one issue (besides gratuitous violence towards innocent books) was the few disturbing and disturbing scenes. Let's just say that Blood Cell is a very good description!
One of the best Doctor Who books I've come across, Blood Cell was an interesting and enjoyable read, though I could have done with less Blood.