Lovely! I approached this book with a certain amount of ariness, I must admit, after the disappointment of Justin Richard's needlessly complicated and rather condescending though admittedly entertaining Clockwise Men. Steve Cole has hardly been my favorite of Who authors as I usually find his writing to be stilted and dry, overall rather boring prose and difficult to read. Maybe it was the simplicity of writing for a younger audience (which of course they're denying they're doing but is quite obvious from the prologue that manages to explain the Doctor, the TARDIS and the general idea in not offensively simple terms) but I must say, he has pulled off what fellow 9th Doctor authors Rayner and Richards couldn't: a fun story, written in the style of the show with no needlessly complicated or unneccessary side-plots or characters.
The fact that it turns out to be a Slitheen story obviously means a fair amount of humor and most of the rather rude kind (the so-called SCAT-house being my favorite example!) and hearing Rose mention Justicia onscreen in Boom Town gives one a little bit of a smile as if you're in on the joke having read about their adventure within the penal colony system. Seperating the Doctor and Rose at first seems rather sketchy as I wasn't sure if he could manage to make the original characters they're obviously going to have to interact with interesting. And if he made even the smallest mistake with the main characters to begin with, the whole thing would collapse.
I'm happy to report that he doesn't make one misstep in his portayals of the regulars nor in his original characterizations. Flowers in particular was a delight to read about in her interactions with the Doctor, with Dennel coming off less well as a stand in companion for Rose, though not enough to be bothersome.
The plot is wonderfully straightforward though that's not to say it doesn't hold its fair share of surprises. Unlike the muddle of Clockwise Men or the mess of Winner Takes All, this really seems like it could be brought to life on the small screen. Not that it isn't grand in scope but it keeps the tone and the format of the show well in mind.
An overall win! And the hardback format, I must say, was wonderful! I'd like to see BBC use it more in the future!