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On Target

During this long stay with our friend, I've made more of a point to read than I usually do. Part of that has to do with it being incredibly difficult to find time to be alone for writing, and part is that with the stress of the situation on top of the usual summer mess (two bands, gigs almost every weekend, and busy season at work), I haven't even wanted to write at all. So, it's been many months, but I've finally read the Target books. Or, I should say, I've read as many as I intend to. I did buy The Day of the Doctor, but honestly, I don't think I could stomach it.

tl;dr I can't decide which I preferred, City of Death or Rose, but I can say both are fantastic and will be re-read sometime soon. The Christmas Invasion is good and fun, but nothing to write home about.

Reviews, in order of episode date:

City of Death, by James Goss

James Goss is probably my favorite DW writer (challenged only by Nev Fountain) and his Target novelization is a great example of his work. He toys with a Douglas Adams style - deadpan absurdist - which only fits as the episode was written in part by him. However, it isn't forced and it doesn't overshadow his main goal, which is to tell one of DW's most complex and entertaining stories.

The novelization is faithful to the episode, but it delves deeper into Scaroth's story, especially that of the modern fragment, who, at the episode's start, hasn't yet realized who he is or why he's really doing what he's doing. It's only as the mask comes off that he starts to remember, and we get to watch the transformation from arrogant wealthy human to true alien from the inside.

Of course, there's also the Fourth Doctor here and he's no less fun, but I think the hidden gem here is Romana. She appears infrequently in this story but her smug alienness is far more palpable in this novel than in the episode, and we get to grin right along with her as she deftly guides Duggan through this strange world he's fallen into.


Rose, by Russell T Davies

I like to think that Rose is what RTD would have done with the first episode of the returning show if he hadn't been constrained by budget and the need to make the new show relatable to general audiences who had no knowledge of the original. As in the episode, the Auton invasion and the arrival of the Doctor are seen through the eyes of Rose, the suddenly-unemployed wastrel shop girl, but RTD takes this opportunity to do what he does best: bring all of the characters to life.

Rose is true to her portrayal in the episode, a teenager who presents the front of confidence and skill while subconsciously realizing that she's going nowhere and doesn't have the strength of character to fight for anything - until the last moment, when all hope is lost. But she isn't the treasure here. RTD paints everyone in this story - even Bernie, the guy in the Henrik's basement that Rose was bringing the lottery money to - and not only gives them reasons for being where they were and doing what they were doing, but also follows them after the invasion is over. (Well, except for Bernie, because he was already dead when it started.) Clive's the big example. Now we know why he's obsessed with the Doctor, and why his wife Caroline supports him, even though she doesn't believe that any of it is true. We also get a full background on Mickey, as well as more about Jackie.

The story itself is expanded, by the benefit of hindsight as well as by the lack of restrictions. Clive's information on the Doctor now includes previous incarnations as well as future incarnations - though Rose got distracted by the photo of her Doctor fighting a pterodactyl as Clive wittered on about a tall man in a brown suit. The Auton invasion itself became global, rather than the limited-budget shopping mall attack that was implied in the episode. The book also includes references to other events that have occurred in the show since the first series that the characters would know about, most notably Rose's encounter on the Powell Estate with a drunk man standing in the shadows, but there are also a couple of other gems hidden in there.

All in all, this novelization was beautifully done, bringing out the original flavor of the episode and enhancing it with intricate characterizations and expansions on the original material.


The Christmas Invasion, by Jenny Colgan

The Christmas Invasion was a fine read, but now, after having read Rose, I'm glad I read TCI first. It is faithful to the episode and deftly written, but it isn't much more than that. JC does bring a spotlight on Daniel Llewellyn, the director of the Guinevere One program, and explores the budding interest between him and Sally (I can't remember her last name) as they meet for the first time at UNIT headquarters, but beyond that, there's not much new here. Much of the emphasis of the book is on Rose and her despair at being abandoned by the Doctor, just like in the episode. The one thing I didn't like, and this is a personal preference thing, is that the end of the book got a bit shippy, with both the Doctor and Rose wondering if the other didn't like them anymore. I'm not a romantic and it just didn't appeal to me. However, I suppose any novelization from Series 2 would have to have this kind of thing. I guess I've been warned. :)

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Comments

( 5 comments — Leave a comment )
alumfelga
Aug. 25th, 2018 06:24 pm (UTC)
Many people say "Rose" is worth reading, and the best of the collection, so if I have a chance, I certainly will. I'd happily read your opinion on "The Day of the Doctor".
shivver13
Sep. 6th, 2018 12:10 am (UTC)
It'll take a lot to get me to read it, given my dislike of the episode. Maybe someday. I read that Moffat tried in the book to correct some of the things he didn't like about the episode, but I highly doubt a few changes here or there can fix that thing.
alumfelga
Sep. 9th, 2018 04:01 pm (UTC)
Somehow I doubt the things he didn't like about that episode are the things I don't like about it, so I get you.
romanajo123
Aug. 29th, 2018 11:44 pm (UTC)
I’m thinking of getting one of the Target books but can’t decide which one. Good to know Rose is decent.
shivver13
Sep. 5th, 2018 09:20 pm (UTC)
I would definitely recommend Rose and City of Death. I just noticed that there was also a Target novelisation of "Twice Upon a Time" released at the same time as the other books, but for some reason I didn't see it. I was not fond of that episode, so I probably will not pick it up.
( 5 comments — Leave a comment )

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