Wednesday, 30 April 2014

Book Review - Keeping Up with the Joneses by Nick Harkaway





Another Doctor Who Time Trips novella, this time about the Tenth Doctor. With a title like Keeping up with the Joneses it's likely you'll think as I did that the Doctor will be accompanied by Martha Jones on this adventure but instead he meets another face from his recent past, Lady Christine de Souza, last seen in Planet of the Dead...but is it really her? After the Tardis hits a temporal mine, the Doctor finds himself in Jonestown. In fact the Welsh town in somehow in the Tardis. How can this be? Who is Christina really and most importantly what is the Doctor going to do about the violent storm threatening not just Jonestown but the entire universe?!
Of the Time Trips books I've read so far this felt the closest to a TV episode. Nick Harkaway captures David Tennant's Doctor on paper almost perfectly. There's the self-assured cockiness, the stream of consciousness monologues, the belief in life and in change tempered by that darker side willing to seek vengeance, "no second chances". Christina is likeable with enough mystery about her to make you question her motives and reliability. Other characters too are pleasingly fleshed out in a format that doesn't always allow for much in the way of characterisation, the monster in particular is a fantastic conception.
 So the characterisation is excellent but what of the story? Happily that too is believable and engaging. It's a well-structured story which is exciting, tense and thoughtful. It has the required sciencey bits that fit a Who story, not necessarily the sort of science that holds up to critical analysis but the time wimey stuff that so suits the Doctor's adventures. The ending thankfully doesn't feel rushed and makes sense which isn't always the case with short stories.
This has been my favourite Time Trips so far, it was a pleasure to read and has whetted my appetite both for more Doctor Who stories and more books by Nick Harkaway.
I received a free copy of this book through Netgalley in return for my unbiased review.

Keeping up with the Joneses is published in the UK by Ebury Publishing.

Thursday, 17 April 2014

Book Review: The Death Pit by A.L. Kennedy



 A little while ago I reviewed Into the Nowhere by Jenny Colgan which I thoroughly enjoyed and vowed then to read more of the Doctor Who Time Trips series of novellas. The Death Pit is about the Fourth Doctor, Tom Baker or as I grew up in the 70s, "my Doctor". I've not rewatched any of his episodes as an adult so my memories are only those from my childhood and I felt A.L. Kennedy captured the Doctor as I remember him;  eccentric, mysterious and fun but also a little scary. The prose here is simply written, it seems to be more of a children's book than Into the Nowhere; this isn't a criticism, I felt it fits well with the classic Who series', from my memories of it growing up it was a children's programme that some adults watched rather than the family show it's widely accepted to be today.
 The story is set on Earth in 1978 at the Fetch Brothers Golf Spa Hotel where guests are mysteriously disappearing. Then an enigmatic man turns up who may be able to explain why. The Doctor's one off assistant for this adventure, hotel receptionist Bryony Mailer is a well written, appealing character and the strange hotel guest, Ian remained likeable even after we learn more about the reason for his being there. The antagonists too are pleasingly dark. So in all it was a story I was enjoying...until I reached the conclusion which left me terribly disappointed. After an intriguing build up it was all over too quickly which is probably a drawback of the novella format. Whilst the main mystery was solved there were other loose ends that I just didn't feel were satisfactorily explained. In the end whilst I think there was much to enjoy in The Death Trap unfortunately I just felt too let down by the rushed ending to wholeheartedly recommend it as I'd have liked.
Thank you to the author and publishers for my free copy from Netgalley in return for my honest review.

The Death Pit is published by Random House UK