This wasn't that painful, for a couple reasons. It was large print, easy to read, and had multiple, large illustrations.
So when I say 'not painful' I really mean it was quick so it wasn't painful for that long of a time. The writing isn't horrible, but isn't great. More than that, the problems lie with the general conceit of this TV series.
Do you sense a long, fandom related rant? Because, well, that's what you're going to get. Before the minion of Prime characters in RiD season two - specifically episode ten, and the revelation of what happened to Soundwave, it was easy enough to imagine this was loosely based on Prime - without being a direct sequel. With these mentions, however, it's clear that the two shows are more directly connected than I'd been able to believe in the past.
It's a rude awakening. Season two, and season three - or two-point-five depending on who you ask - are better than season one, but they don't fix the main problem I have with this series. And no, it's not that it's made exclusively for children. My real problem is that believing that 'making it for children' and 'dumbing it down' are the same thing. This serves children poorly, especially after Prime which dealt with serious issues like PTSD after combat situations, but keeping in mind that it was a show for children. And while Prime deftly handled these types of situations, ensuring that children wouldn't be fearful, but also keeping adults engaged, they breeched the children-versus-adults gap in cartoons. It wasn't either or. It was entertaining for both.
RiD is more cheerful, which I think fits the attitude of making it solely for children. Or at least making it solely for children as their target audience. Then again, Beast Machines - brilliant, the first Transformers franchise targeting adults solely - wasn't quite as cheerful - and didn't get renewed for season two. Perhaps the less forcefully optimistic Prime was doomed to be cancelled simply due to that nature. Cheering it up as RiD was a good idea in this case; dumbing it down was not.
It only makes it more clear that Prime was superior. Grimlock is now a former Decepticon, stupid, goofy, and clumsy. Whereas his original counterpart was sulky at having to obey Optimus Prime, this version is loyal as a puppy, eager to prove his worth to Bumblebee, the new Autobot leader on Earth. They kept his literal teeth, and took away his metaphorical teeth. He's grown on me, but still isn't as dear to me as the ornery Grimlock, or even better, the more cunning Grimlock in IDW. (In which it's been postulated that he might be playing dumb so people underestimate him.)
It harkens back to G1: good is good and bad is bad, and they might change sides occasionally in RiD, but it's mostly black and white. It's flat, it's uninteresting, and it doesn't force children to think, or really reflect the world around them. It's also coming back for a fourth - or third, depending on who you ask - season. (The people involved in the show who've said their in the studio for this, though, tend to call it season four.)
Which brings me directly to this book. It uses a plot Prime has - oh, no, Prime is evil! - except Prime did it more subtly and with far more thought and grace. The reasons why this was done are different: the narrative is different in each case, the ways this are used are different, but it's similar enough to call immediate attention to the fact that this is a borrowed plot. More than that, it calls into question why they would do this. Prime was far superior, and was bound to use this in a more complex, engaging way. Why call attention to how inferior this show is by making such direct comparisons inevitable? (In my opinion, they did the same thing in the episode I mention earlier: season 2, episode ten, called Portals. It uses the Shadowzone concept, but with far less warmth, humor, or complexity, and also making Soundwave far less intimidatingly creepy as before. They dumbed down everything, making me wonder why they would do this in a way that called such immediate and direct comparisons.)
I don't know, but I'd gotten softer on RiD after seasons two and three. I was willing to read this - buy it even - because I'd figured I'd softened on this whole franchise. This plot twist made me really angry, though, because why use something that just makes me sigh wistfully and be eager for Prime? Ugh, ugh, ugh.
At least they kept that abomination Drift out of this. Drift, I'm convinced, should be written by these people:
That's it. James Roberts. No one else write Drift, alright?