Genres: Adventure, Science Fiction, Time Travel
Source: My copy
Amazon • Amazon UK • Book Depository
Wilfred Mott is very happy: his granddaughter, Donna, is back home, catching up with family and gossiping about her journeys, and he has just discovered a new star and had it named after him. He takes the Tenth Doctor with him to the naming ceremony. But the Doctor soon discovers something else new, and worryingly bright, in the heavens - something that is heading for Earth. It's an ancient force from the Dark Times. And it is very, very angry.
I’m a big fan of the Tenth Doctor, and when I saw that this story not only also features my favourite companion, Donna Noble, but that it was also flagged as a “favourite” and picked to be part of the 50th anniversary re-releases, I had to grab a copy.
Almost all of my favourite characters are here – the Tenth Doctor, Donna Noble, Donna’s granddad Wilf, as well as her grumpy mum, Sylvia. The story starts and finishes with chapters set following Journey’s End, after Donna’s return to Earth with her memory erased. Donna’s departure from the TARDIS was one of the saddest moments of the series for me. I loved Donna and the Doctor’s relationship, the easy going travelling of two friends up for a laugh, but ending up in the most dangerous and heartbreaking situations. This book not only refreshes those feelings at Donna’s fate (keep tissues handy), but celebrates their adventures together.
The story itself is set somewhere in the middle of the Series Four arc. Donna and the Doctor return to Earth just in time for the first anniversary of Donna’s father’s death – a difficult time for everyone and really not a situation the Doctor is very good at handling. It also happens to be the week that Wilf is being honoured at the Royal Planetary Society for the discovery of a new star, named after him. There is an extra new star in the sky though – one that really shouldn’t be there.
Each of the familiar characters is portrayed very well with all their mannerisms – so well, in fact, that it feels a lot like reading a lost episode from the series. There is quite a lot of general running around and arm-waving, which is really what Doctor Who mostly consists of when you get down to it – possibly not the best for an adventure novel but for TV it’s great.
The story deals with Wilf’s new lady friend Netty, who is afflicted with second stage Alzheimers. I don’t personally know anyone with this illness but I can imaging how devastating it must be for those dealing with it and those around them. It’s dealt with quite sensitively in this story.
I’m reliably informed that Gary Russell is a big Doctor Who fan and this love for the show really comes through in the many references to past events. The plot itself is kind of weak, but this is more of a character relationship story between the members of the Noble family. There wasn’t a lot of explanation as to why the Mandragora Helix was coming back for revenge on the Doctor, but I’m assuming there is some precedent for that. It didn’t stop me from enjoying the story though.
Fans of Donna Noble should enjoy this book, but if you didn’t like Donna’s family drama in the series, you may not like it much here, either.
– A bit light on plot, but big on extra story around Donna and her family.