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"Doctor Who", Island of Death: Island of Death (Dr Who) [Mass Market Paperback]

Barry Letts
2.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)

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Book Description

7 July 2005 Dr Who
Sarah Jane Smith and her firend Jamie Fitzoliver investigate a strange New Age cult. Business as usual for investigative journalists. But what is less usual is the demon-like creature the cultists worship. When the Doctor and UNIT arrive to investigate they discover a plot involving government ministers, alien narcotics, and an official cover-up. As an evil scheme develops on a remote island in the Indian Ocean, the Doctor enlists the help of the Royal Navy to investigate. But can the Doctor and his friends uncover the truth in time to avert disaster?

Product details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: BBC Books; Film tie-in edition edition (7 July 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0563486317
  • ISBN-13: 978-0563486312
  • Product Dimensions: 17.8 x 11.5 x 2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 2.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 601,358 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

2.5 out of 5 stars
2.5 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Alien invasion of the week... 26 July 2005
By Jane Aland VINE VOICE
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Despite his classic work in the 70's on Doctor Who, Barry Letts doesn't have good form for his more recent work, and continuity-wise Island of Death slots in after the much maligned radio dramas The Paradise of Death and the Ghosts of N-Space. The plot is very generic, with a corpse on Hampstead Heath leading the 3rd Doctor, Sarah Jane Smith and the Brigadier off to combat a group of new age cultists who are summoning an invasion force of parasitic aliens. The novel grinds to a halt during an interminable 100-page sea journey as the regulars give chase to the cultists, and the supporting characters are either caricatures or distinguishable only by name. When events finally get to the island the alien Skang are reasonably interesting thanks to their `perception is reality' hypnotic powers, and Letts keeps enough moments of light humour with the regulars going (including the Doctor literally talking to fishes) that the novel is at least readable. By no means a good novel, Island of Death is at least an improvement on Letts segment of the Deadly Reunion novel written with Terrance Dicks.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Boring 4 Jan 2007
By Henry
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Sadly disappointed with this adventure by Barry Letts. The whole thing moves very slowly. It seems Mr. Letts had a good idea that would have possibly made a good 2-4 episode televised broadcast, or a good short story. This book seems filled with padding to reach the 280th page! There are lots of boring bits and boring characters that slow the whole thing down and don't move the plot ahead at all. Sadly, the Third Doctor, Sarah, and the Brig are also very boring.

I have moved on to "The Stone Rose" and "The Deadstone Memorial" and each certainly deserves 5 stars!
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars TL;DR 23 Jan 2011
Format:Mass Market Paperback
If you want an exciting Doctor Who story about mysterious cults featuring the 3rd Doctor and Sarah Jane Smith at their best... Avoid.
If you want an in-depth description of how a naval ship works, then you need this book!
Barry Letts fills what could have been a wonderfully engaging story that captures everything one would expect from an adventure with the 3rd Doctor, with something much better - a long-winded lecture about how the navy run their ships, which side of the boat is which, what knots are in boating lingo and how to work out where west is based on the sun. Afterall, who needs action and adventure and inspiring words from a brilliant man known only as The Doctor when instead we can just read about boats!

As an avid boat not-care-abouter, I couldn't finish this book. Even the fact that Sarah Jane Smith was about to get killed by a media-hating sociopath couldn't keep me hooked because it was followed by yet another lecture about how a stupid boat works that's just completely irrelevant to the plot and must only have been written to fill out the pages a bit more to make it look less feeble.

So yeah.
Doctor Who Fans - Don't bother reading it
Navy Obsessed Lunatics - Perfect book for you
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2 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars simply a brillent read 4 July 2005
Format:Mass Market Paperback
if youlike the third doctor and Sarah Jane you really must read this book. Possibly the best DR WHO book of 2005 so far.
The author obviously knows the 3rd doctor inside out (as he should)and it shows throughout the book.
Buy it and read it you wont be disapointed
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 3.7 out of 5 stars  3 reviews
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Blast from the Past 8 Dec 2005
By LilacF - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Mass Market Paperback
I bought this since I wanted Who. Any Who. I like Jon Pertwee's Doctor well enough but he's not my favorite. This book was a wholly unexpected delight. It had the charm of that era and Barry Letts so perfectly captures the relationship of the Doctor, Sarah, and the Brigadier that you can see and hear them in your imagination. This is one of my favorite depictions of the Brigadier. The plot is not complex but it unfolds with a satisfying pace. Is it just me or is there a Lovecraftian touch to the Skang?
2.0 out of 5 stars A resounding "meh" 31 July 2007
By K. M. Armstrong - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Mass Market Paperback
"Island of Death" was mostly a disappointment. It does manage to fufill the PDA ideal of feeling like the era it's set in (season 11).... it just feels like the worst things about that era. Mainly, the Doctor's an arrogant childish jerk the first half of the book and there's about 50 pages of pure padding in the middle that killed any feeling of suspense I might've had. Not that there was that much suspense to begin with, it's obvious pretty early on roughly where it's all going, bar a few minor twists.

But on the bright side, I liked the way Letts tried to flesh out Sarah Jane a little (too bad he didn't do it 30 years ago!), and I think he did a decent job with the Brig.
5.0 out of 5 stars Just once I want someone to make a wrong turn and end up at the Island of Cuddles 14 Aug 2013
By Michael Battaglia - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Barry Letts' "Who" credentials are pretty much assured in whatever odd dimensionally transcendent hall of fame exists for such things. Before John Nathan-Turner came on he was the longest serving producer and the one pretty much responsible for the Third Doctor's "UNIT Family" years, where the show had a fairly regular cozy supporting cast and lots of earthbound adventures. Not only was he a producer but he also directed several episodes and was responsible for the casting of Tom Baker, another act that had some small importance to the show's future.

I just wanted to put all that out there because one not-great novel effort isn't enough to take away from his legacy, but this is a novel that has more than a few flaws. The last time Letts tried to give us a novel in the Past Doctor range, he had good ol' Terrance on board to help out and even then it was no great shakes. This one is his show all the way, and it makes you wonder how much of the problems of that earlier novel were his fault and how much was unfairly blamed on his co-author.

Of course we're dealing with the Third Doctor, although with Sarah Jane Smith this time out. Bodies are being found with all the meaty juicy insides sucked out of them and coincidentally a cult has just sprung up with a delicious juice that makes you feel like you're one with everyone else. Like every cult in every story everywhere, they're innocent on the face of it and of course oddly creepy, so our heroes do the obvious thing and suspect the cult. Fortunately, they're right. At least some things always stay the same. Soon enough the cult has booked, leaving behind an ex-member who wants to get back and the Doctor and Sarah Jane, with the Brigadier in tow, are off to a mysterious island to prove that the creepy cult are really just illegal squatters and get them evicted through due process. Or maybe something involving aliens.

Not only are the bare bones of the story not that compelling, but it seems like there's no attempt made even to trick this up for us so we find some appealing angle to it. Instead, we're supposed to bask in the glory of the Third Doctor era, brought to us by the man who probably has that era implanted in his DNA, and be content to coast on those vibes. But the story is so straightforward you're guessing events before the Doctor even does and frankly, he's supposed to be smarter than me.

The prose style is . . . interesting, to say the least. Sarah Jane gets most of the viewpoint duties and Letts often writes her in a near stream-of-consciousness style, like she suffers from a kind of attention deficit disorder, flitting from one topic to the next in her head without much rhyme or reason. Old boyfriends, the Doctor, aliens, her hair, it all kind of jumbles together and after a while gives the impression that Letts is writing it in a stream of consciousness fashion, putting every idea down on the page as it occurs to him. That can account for the rambling and somewhat digressive nature of the early plotting. After our heroes realize they need to an island, but not having enough story to have them just sail to the island and find out its horrible secrets, we have to fiddle about on the boat for what feels like an endless series of pages. There we experience the absurdity of one person trying to kill Sarah Jane in what verges on a "Perils of Pauline" style series of events, and nobody seems to suspect the one cult member on board, even though the crew seems to number about four people, and everyone else is the Doctor and Brigadier. Even after someone dies because of it, it's still full speed ahead.

Things don't improve much when we get to the island, as everyone alternates between having a grand old time and sometimes remembering that a plot exists that still has to be resolved. Fortunately no surprises really lurk there either and after we stretch things out to the absolute last minute, the Doctor comes up with a solution from a throwaway idea he had a hundred pages before. Then everyone goes home. The end.

It's not that the book is bad, it just feels overly earnest and amateurish, like very sincere fan-fiction from someone with professional experience. Between the by-the-numbers plot, the shallow attempts at characterization (when the book isn't coasting on pure muscle memory) and the complete lack of a memorable villain (there's one creepy death scene that verges on being over the top and just misses) there's not much else you can do except flip pages until the book is over, especially if you're like me and feel duty-bound to finish a book after starting it. Right toward the end there's an attempt made to consider other points of view, where the Doctor notes that aliens simply living out their life cycle doesn't make them necessarily evil, but it comes and goes too quickly and before long the aliens are back to acting like weird human beings.

I hate to speak ill of the deceased, especially one responsible for so many memorable moments in the original show. But this is not top-class work. The book isn't bad enough to make you angry but it is weak enough to make you wonder if it would have been published if not for the name on the cover. The cover itself should have warned us, as the central image of the blank faced man on the island is strange enough, until you see the random elements like skulls and boats and mountains all thrown together seemingly without rhyme or reason. The book isn't quite that slapdash but it winds up reflecting the cover more than it properly should.
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