I've read this before. Seeing I was the book that introduced me to Doctor Who novels. I'd read a couple of the target novelisations before this, but I resisted buying any of the original story novels for ages, for the simple reason that I knew if I got one, I'd have to collect them all.
So, one fateful day, an ex bought me Seeing I from a discount bookstore. It was a nice gesture, but I don't think she knew what she was letting herself in for. As for me, I knew I was letting myself in for some serious expenditure.
The novel itself is an engaging, well written conclusion to what has become known as the "finding Sam Jones" arc. Tellingly, it deals with the issues between the Doctor and Sam in a much more realistic and detailed manner than the two previous books - Legacy of the Daleks and Dreamstone Moon.
Sam literally grows up over the course of the novel, as it spans three years for both her and the Doctor. She works out that a corporate life is not for her, and decides to make a difference. She has boyfriends and (we assume) sex, not to mention the responsibilities of adult life thrust upon her, all of which lead her to develop into an independent, capable young woman.
The Doctor meanwhile, encounters a prison from which he cannot escape. This affects him deeply, as even when he does finally get out (with a little help from his friends) he is afraid of small spaces.
The battle between the Doctor and the INC corporation (while trying to find Sam) is both amusing and engaging, but even that pales in comparison to the excellent prison escape attempts, which manage to be funny while retaining elements of thrill and danger.
Additional characters are reasonably well fleshed out, and although there are no real standouts, they manage to be interesting while furthering the plot and the development of the main characters.
As usual with an OrmanBlum novel, there's a lot of cultural reference humour, along with a significant number of puns, my favourite being the Doctor's explanation of the TARDIS' architecture - "If it ain't baroque, don't fix it."
For ages, it seems like there won't be any aliens, just the good guys versus the evil corporation (which isn't actually evil but is made to seem evil by the ethical viewpoint employed by the writers.) When the aliens do turn up, they're pretty one dimensional, without much character. The problem here is that they're a sort of telepathic gestalt, which makes it difficult to add depth, since they act as one.
One further point - Seeing I is a much better book if you've read Genocide, Longest Day, Legacy of the Daleks and Dreamstone Moon beforehand, as not only will you understand the related references, but you'll also find that the hanging plot threads are tied up.
None of which changes the fact that Seeing I is a well plotted, absorbing, funny, slightly moralistic novel that hides its faults particularly well. It's not quite as good as Vampire Science, but it's up there in the 'Orman books I enjoyed category', along with Vampire Science and Return of the Living Dad
Review by Tom Hey