Doctor Who: The Silent Stars Go By
Publisher: BBC Books
The winter festival is approaching for the hardy colony of Morphans, but no one is in the mood to celebrate. They're trying to build a new life on a cold new world, but each year gets harder and harder. It's almost as if some dark force is working against them. Then three mysterious travelers arrive out of the midwinter night, one of them claiming to be a doctor. Are they bringing the gift of salvation or doom? And what else might be lurking out there, about to wake up?
This was my first ever Dr Who book. While I am a BIG fan of the series, I’ve never bothered with all the additional stuff (conventions, dress up, magazines etc), but on an impulse last week I decided to try one of the books out – and I decided on this one as it was the eleventh Doctor with companions Amy and Rory joining him. They were aiming for Christmas 2011 but ended up on an alien world in the grip of winter, when one of the villagers has gone missing.
This followed the standard adventure layout for the Doctor and his companions – they arrive in the wrong place at a sensitive point in time, one of the companions is separated from the Doctor early on and then a fairly standard, chase, search and investigation plot follows. The locals are divided with some helping the Doctor and some refusing to help, there is something menancing in the snow and there is an ‘unexpected’ twist. All in all this reads very much like an episode in the TV show and I could easily picture all the events happening in front of me. However, this is both a strength and a weakness. It very much feels like a ‘lost’ episode of the show with threatening bad guys, companions in peril, the Doctor being brilliant and lots of running (lots and lots of running!). The banter between the Doctor, Amy and Rory was spot on – I could picture the actors saying exactly those words to each other and loved the joy of the discussions between Earth-like and Earth-esque, Leanish-ness of the Tardis and how it felt like Christmas. I have no issues with either the actions of the characters or their voices.
I guess my issue is that this felt like a TV episode rather than a book. We never get beneath the skin of the characters in a way that wouldn’t be possible on screen. An insight into what Rory really thinks of Amy & the Doctor’s relationship, if Amy ever thinks of leaving the Tardis, if the Doctor ever worries about the danger he brings to his companions would have been nice to see. However, we rarely get to see what any of the characters are actually thinking as opposed to what they are doing. The Doctor and Amy barely seem to give Rory two thoughts once they become separated and none of the events have an emotional resonance for our main characters. So while I raced through the pages and enjoyed the adventure, it never really made a deep impact on me – a bit like a two-minute massage. Nice but not long or deep enough to really make a difference to my muscles.
Overall, I would say that this is a fun read, spot on for those that love the TV show and would like an extra adventure and some lively banter with the Doctor. But it b=never really expands the characters or the world of Doctor Who in any novel way. (Pun intended!)
Recommended for fans of the TV show. 7.5 out of 10