About the Author:
Colin Brake has worked in television as a writer and script editor for over twenty years, working on shows such as EastEnders, Trainer, Bugs and Doctors. He lives in Leicester, UK, with his wife Kerry and their two children, Cefn and Kassia.
AVERAGE REVIEW SCORE:
3 out of 5
Doctor Who: Judgement Of The Judoon
An original adventure starring David Tennant's ever-popular Tenth Doctor. When the Judoon, brutal law enforcers, set their sights on Elvis the King Spaceport the Doctor decides to step in to prevent them from causing chaos. However, chaos has already engulfed the spaceport and the Time Lord instead teams up with the Judoon Commander and Nikki, a young private detective, in order to get to the bottom of it.
I did not have high hopes going into this book. I'd not particularly enjoyed the last of the author's books I'd read and the Judoon are among the least interesting of the recurring creatures introduced in the revived series of Doctor Who. It was nice, then, to be quite pleasantly surprised.
This book is a classic-style detective noir story with crimelords, corrupt cops, double agents and mysteries aplenty. It was nice to read a Who novel from the end of Tennant's tenure which manages to maintain an upbeat tone both in its telling and in the characterisation of the Doctor himself. A big part of this is down to the unlikely team-up of the Doctor, the Judoon and (the painfully named) Nikki Jupiter. Their diverse natures and skills sets, combined with their similar dedication to justice and honour, makes for a lively and interesting set of protagonists to take on New Memphis' criminal underworld. It was also surprisingly enjoyable to see the Judoon fleshed out somewhat, after having been largely disappointed by Terrence Dicks' 'Revenge of the Judoon' (their only other appearance in a novel so far).
There was one significant downside and that is that, occasionally, Brake holds too closely to familiar tropes of the detective story genre. This means that at least two of the significant revelations of the plot were blatantly obvious to me from the very first appearances of the characters involved, because those revelations were very derivative. Still, didn't harm the enjoyability of the book too much though.
4 out of 5
Doctor Who: The Good, The Bad And The Alien
An Eleventh Doctor (Matt Smith) adventure featuring Amy and Rory. As a treat for Rory the Doctor pilots the TARDIS to the Wild West in the 19th Century, but when they find an entire town who have been simultaneously put to sleep and hear stories of lights in the sky, the Doctor and his companions realise they're not the only out of town visitors to Mason City, Nevada.
Originally part of a two-in-one book, this is fairly short and leans towards the YA end of the Who fiction scale. Nevertheless, it's a perfectly enjoyable adventure for the Eleventh Doctor and his best companions (sorry Clara). Brake does a spot-on job of capturing the feel of the three main characters too, with the Doctor's manic energy, Amy's bossiness and Rory's put-upon sarcasm all feeling entirely natural to how they appear onscreen.
There are two things that hold this back from being a better book and one is simply the setting. I can honestly say I've never seen the Old West and science fiction successfully crossed-over and this is at least the third Who story I've encountered with that exact premise (the TV episode 'A Town Called Mercy' and 'Peacemaker' by James Swallow). It could be worse, I suppose; it could be that awful 'Cowboys vs Aliens' movie...
The other negative element of this story is the aliens involved turning out to be humanoid meerkats. I've never really like the sci-fi habit of just chucking a familiar animal's head on a humanoid body, but here it's particularly egregious because of two separate references to the Compare the Market TV adverts. I know everyone (in the UK, that is) went meerkat mad after those ads began, but I've always hated them and having this book be so heavily influenced by them did it no favours.
3 out of 5
Doctor Who: The Price Of Paradise
An original adventure featuring the Tenth Doctor (David Tennant) and his companion Rose Tyler. The Doctor and Rose arrive on the planet Laylora at the same time that a human exploration ship crashlands. They soon discover that the planet, which seemed like a perfect paradise, is being gripped by seismic upheaval and the sudden appearance of fierce monsters.
I have to be honest and say that, of the many Doctor Who books I've read thus far, this one is the least interesting. I was over a hundred pages in before I realised that I was not invested in the characters or the plot in any way. Whilst things did get a little better in the last third or so, overall I found this book rather tedious.
Part of the problem is that Brake makes the mistake of introducing too many brand new characters too early on. We meet a range of Layloran natives and the crew of the explorer ship before the Doctor and Rose even turn up and the book suffers from this. It would've been much better if we'd met all these new characters through the Doctor and his companion, rather than the author trying to force feed us their stories up front. And as the book went on I didn't find myself warming to them any more than I did at the start, so their fates all felt pretty inconsequential.
2 out of 5