Review: Doctor Who: The Stealers of Dreams by Steve Lyons

thestealersofdreamsDoctor Who: The Stealers of Dreams by Steve Lyons

My Rating: 4/5 TARDISes

Series: Doctor Who: New Series Adventures #6

Date Published: September 8th, 2005

Publisher: BBC Books

Pages: 254 pages

Source: Purchased

Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository

Synopsis: In the far future, the Doctor, Rose, and Captain Jack find a world on which fiction has been outlawed. A world where it’s a crime to tell stories, a crime to lie, a crime to hope, and a crime to dream. But now somebody is challenging the status quo. A pirate TV station urges people to fight back, and the Doctor wants to help – until he sees how easily dreams can turn into nightmares. With one of his companions stalked by shadows and the other committed to an asylum, the Doctor is forced to admit that fiction can be dangerous after all. Though perhaps it is not as deadly as the truth…


This is a spoiler-free review.

This is a particularly interesting review for me to do because my experience with this novel shifted back and forth between reading a physical edition and listening to an audiobook. I will say upfront that I am not a huge fan of audiobooks, feeling like they detract quite a bit from my personal reading experience. The quality of the audio, the style of the narrator, whether those aspects are good or not, audiobooks and I have never gotten along especially well. That being said, when I found this one, I decided, why not give it a go—and to be honest, I ended up relatively pleased with my choice.

In this novel, the Doctor, Rose, and Jack find themselves entering a world where fiction and fantasy has been made illegal. There are no writers or novels, and those who are caught engaging in the creation of stories—or something as simple as dreaming—are imprisoned in “The Big White House”, where they are meant to be “rehabilitated”. In this society, being found to be “fiction crazy” is as bad if not worse than the act of murder. However, an underground society of dreamers is rising up, taking to the airwaves on a pirated radio station and attempting to bring fiction back to the people. When the trio accidently get split up, they become deeply involved in the dangerous workings of this truth-obsessed city.

Out of all the Doctor Who novels I’ve read so far, this ended up being one of my favorites. The plot is not an incredibly new or unique topic in fiction, but it’s nevertheless always an interesting one. And of course, Lyons puts his own unique flair on this familiar concept. As a writer and reader, I find it both fascinating and terrifying to imagine what the world would be like if we were not allowed to create and fantasize. This theme is inherently captivating, and Lyons has formed it into a fast-paced novel. With plenty of suspense and mystery, as well as a twist ending I personally did not see coming, this is quite an enjoyable read.

I thought that Lyons did a rather solid job of portraying the ninth Doctor, Rose, and Jack. The three go their separate ways early on, so the majority of the narration switches between each person’s exploits every chapter or so. Jack was a particularly strong character in this story, and I really enjoyed his parts. Occasionally, the narrative felt a bit jumpy and jumbled because it switched around so frequently between each storyline, but this did not affect my experience too drastically.

The additional characters were also well crafted and fit nicely into the world they belonged to. We get to see people on either side of this society—those who enforce the eradication of fantasy and those who secretly defy the law. Their interactions with the main trio and their individual views added some great dimension to the plot. I liked that whether obsessed with truth or fiction, their interpretations of life were so limited and so dependent on clichés. It shows how desperately we need a proper balance of each in our lives.

The audiobook I listened to for part of my reading experience was the unabridged audio, narrated by Camille Coduri. This is not one of the slightly abridged ones, acted out by one of the cast members, though I would like to give one of those a try some day as they seem like they would be fun. When it came to this particular book, I actually did not mind the narration for once. I admit, I’m still not sold on audiobooks in general, but my experience with this novel was overall a positive one.

Coduri has a fairly pleasant voice to listen to, and her delivery—though quite unique and slightly unusual, in my opinion—was something I found to be very enjoyable. I feel as though her style might not be something that is everyone’s cup of tea, but it worked well enough for me. She gave each character a distinctive voice and did a respectable job of portraying the appropriate emotion in each scene. One of the major pitfalls of an audiobook can be adding too much or too little voice acting into the narration. Coduri’s performance was very three-dimensional, her acting complementing the story as a whole rather than distracting from it.

I’ve said before that I tend to hold novels from this series to a different standard than most. They are not inherently poor quality novels by any means—they feature a lot of strong writing and storytelling. However, they are much more along the lines of fun reads than great literature. That being said, this was one of the better ones, both in content and quality. The plot was intriguing and that, along with the portrayal of the characters, stayed very true to the beloved television show. It was a great addition to the series and I would highly recommend this novel to all Doctor Who fans out there.

4.0 TARDISes


Review: Doctor Who: The Way Through the Woods by Una McCormack

thewaythroughthewoodsDoctor Who: The Way Through the Woods by Una McCormack

My Rating: 4/5 TARDISes

Series: Doctor Who: New Series Adventures #45

Date Published: April 28th, 2011

Publisher: BBC Books

Pages: 241 pages

Source: Library

Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository

Synopsis: ‘As long as people have lived here, they’ve gone out of their way to avoid the woods…’

 Two teenage girls disappear into an ancient wood, a foreboding and malevolent presence both now and in the past. The modern motorway bends to avoid it, as did the old Roman road. In 1917 the Doctor and Amy are desperate to find out what’s happened to Rory, who’s vanished too. 

But something is waiting for them in the woods. Something that’s been there for thousands of years. Something that is now waking up.


This is a spoiler-free review.

I have been a Doctor Who fan for a long time now, but I have only discovered this series of novels that connect to the show within the last year or two. Suffice it to say, finding them made me quite excited, particularly because it was during a hiatus between seasons. A few of these stories come out along with each new season and star the current Doctor and companion at that time. Now that I have read through quite a few of these novels, I will say that they definitely tend to be quite hit or miss, most likely due to the multiplicity of authors writing them. However, I am very pleased to say that this one fell into the “hit” category.

Though the Tenth Doctor is my favorite from the television series itself, the Eleventh Doctor novels tend to be my favorites, and this one was no exception. The Way Through the Woods was an incredibly fun read. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and I sped right through it; it is definitely one of my favorite Doctor Who books I have read so far. This is one of the few instances where, as a reader, you truly want a novel to be reminiscent of another work. Since it is based off an already established collection of characters and stories, you do not want it straying too far from what you know and love. I felt that the plot itself was very characteristic of Doctor Who with just enough of the author’s personal touch to make it very satisfying.

I am always a bit wary when the authors of these stories split up the Doctor and his companion(s); this is something that is extremely easy to execute poorly. Not having a good balance between each character’s storyline and the contribution they make to the overall plot can completely ruin a novel. For the most part, I felt that McCormack did a fairly decent job of balancing each character’s time in the limelight, though I do wish that the Doctor himself had played a slightly bigger role.

I liked the intrigue of the plot; it kept me guessing and wanting to know more. There was a very mysterious and sometimes eerie tone and atmosphere in the story that I found to be quite good. The fact that this took place in multiple time periods while retaining a closely connected set of characters was another interesting aspect of this story and added to the overall mystery. I also really enjoyed McCormack’s writing style and the imagery that she produced. I had a very clear picture of all the locations visited by the Doctor, Amy, and Rory, particularly the woods and the location that Amy ends up in near the end.

The author did an excellent job of capturing the Eleventh Doctor, Amy, and Rory individually as well as the interplay between the threesome. McCormack also created a great supporting cast of characters to complement them, and her portrayals of their interactions with the main three were done very well. Of course, one of the most important parts of any Doctor Who story is the alien or aliens causing havoc, and in this novel, I personally thought that the alien was fantastic.

This book was very well crafted, with solid writing and a concept that was very imaginative and creative. Apart from a few instances of awkward dialogue and interaction and an ending that didn’t particularly blow me away, it had a very strong plot. I would have absolutely loved to see this as an actual episode of the show.

I must say, I do tend to rate and review the books in this series on a much different scale than I would with other books, primarily because I do not expect quite as much from them. While these novels are not the greatest works of literature, they are extraordinarily fun to read, and I would highly recommend giving them a try if you are a Doctor Who fan.

4.0 TARDISes


Review: Doctor Who: The Blood Cell by James Goss

thebloodcellDoctor Who: The Blood Cell by James Goss

My Rating: 1.5/5 TARDISes

Series: Doctor Who: New Series Adventures #58

Date Published: September 9th, 2014

Publisher: Broadway Books

Pages: 256 pages

Source: Library

Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository

Synopsis: “Release the Doctor — or the killing will start.”

An asteroid in the furthest reaches of space – the most secure prison for the most dangerous of criminals. The Governor is responsible for the worst fraudsters and the cruelest murderers. So he’s certainly not impressed by the arrival of the man they’re calling the most dangerous criminal in the quadrant. Or, as he prefers to be known, the Doctor. 

What does impress the Governor is the way the new prisoner immediately sets about trying to escape. And keeps trying. Finally, he sends for the Doctor and asks him why? But the answer surprises even the Governor. And then there’s the threat — unless the Governor listens to the Doctor, a lot of people will die.

Who is the Doctor and what’s he really doing here? Why does he want to help the Governor? And who is the young woman who comes every day to visit him, only to be turned away by the guards? 

When the killing finally starts, the Governor begins to get his answers…


This is a spoiler-free review.

I have been a fan of this Doctor Who book series for a couple of years now, and the show itself even longer, and have found these books to be very entertaining. Even though they aren’t exactly the best literature ever, they are fun to read and feel a bit like extra episodes of the show. I have really been enjoying Peter Capaldi’s performance as the Doctor and Jenna Coleman as Clara, so I was very eager to begin the books starring this incarnation of the loveable time lord and his clever companion. However, I did not exactly get what I was looking for out of this novel.

The idea for the plot sounded very intriguing, but the execution of it caused it to fall a bit flat for me. The main reason I did not enjoy this book as much as I had hoped was due to the first person narration. Typically, these novels are written from a third person perspective. I think these stories generally work out a lot better with that type of narration because the actions of multiple characters, most importantly the Doctor and companion, can be followed more closely. The insight that a third person perspective gives you as a reader keeps the story moving at a better pace. It is also more interesting, as most readers likely want to actually see the Doctor’s actions play out rather than hear those escapades relayed back to them by an observer.

I also personally found myself not connecting at all with the Governor and not caring much for or about him as a character, which made the first person narration even more of a problem. It got to the point where I did not really care what was happening to him or what he thought; I just wanted to see what the Doctor was up to, how he was handling things. The main point of reading these stories is to see more of the Doctor’s and companion’s adventures and antics, and that was completely lost in this novel.

The setting of the prison and overall concept for the story was a good one and could have easily been a great plot for an episode. In the little that we get to see of them, I thought that the author did a fairly good job portraying Capaldi’s Doctor and Clara. At times, I did enjoy the mystery of why the Doctor was in the prison, and I was definitely intrigued to see how he and Clara would escape from this situation.

Overall, this was not a terrible book by any means, but it was definitely not one of my favorite Doctor Who books. With a few alterations, this could have been so much better than it was. Occasionally I felt that some of this story became slightly repetitive and dragged on a bit without making much progress or uncovering new details. Basically, it seemed like there was a lot of action but they weren’t really getting anywhere. The main details that were finally revealed in the end were somewhat interesting, but they definitely didn’t blow me away; and I can’t say that the reveal made me feel like it was worth getting through the rest of it.

1.5 TARDISes