Friday, 7 November 2014

Book Review: 'Doctor Who: Lights Out' by Holly Black

The 50th Anniversary of Doctor Who was widely celebrated last year and the Beeb teamed up with Penguin to release 11 short stories celebrating 11 Doctors. A year later and a Doctor later they have teamed up again to provide a new short story featuring the Twelfth Doctor.

22845900The authors of these stories were a selection of high profile childrens authors and the latest is written by Holly Black who has written The Spiderwick Chronicles which I hear is quite well-loved. To tell the truth I did have a mixed response to the previous stories ranging from the utter brilliance of Neil Gaiman's 'Nothing O'Clock' to the utter embarrassment that was  'A Big Hand For the Doctor'. While I do appreciate the Beeb trying something new with written Who, there are already plenty of tried and true Who writers out the who could have done a much better job of the whole enterprise. 

So for completist sake, natural curiosity, hope and love for my Doctor I approached this new volume with some trepidation. How good could a writer capture the new Doctor when we have only just seen him unfold on-screen? And how would they go writing for one of the most complicated Doctors that we have met? There certainly no longer remains the facade of an upstanding moral fighter. There is a lot more ambiguity in the Doctors motivations these days.

Surprisingly 'Lights Out' is firmly set within the series with the Doctor travelling to a famous coffee-specialising planet in search for a couple of cups for himself and Clara after the events in Deep Breath. The Doctor soon finds himself a suspect in a hideous murder and meets a being called '78351' who was also witness to the murder. 78351 becomes his companion for the duration of the story.

While the plot itself is by no means new or original, Holly does manage to bring in some aspects of the Twelfth Doctor and more than just the physical eyebrows joke. The Doctor does seem morally ambiguous and does let events take a different course to what another Doctor may have done. He does seem nonplussed at the deaths themselves. There certainly is the Twelfth Doctor within these pages.

So while this is a light and unsurprising read, the surprise is in how the Twelfth Doctor comes across on paper - much like he does onscreen thankfully. While I have not had a chance to read the three full-sized novels  recently released featuring the Twelfth Doctor, I can say to anyone looking for some Twelve in print that you have come to the right place.

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