The problem I've noticed while reading the BBC line of Doctor Who books is that they seem to have difficulty taking advantage of the medium and instead resolutely shoot to portray an average Who story, just on the printed page. Which is all well and good, if the TV show didn't already exist. Just as there are things that TV can do that books can't, there are plenty of things that books can accomplish freed of the restrictions of making it "just like TV".
Granted, I have no idea if the authors involved in this series were under any kind of mandate from the publisher. It might have depended on the editor at the time, or maybe some authors really didn't have any ambition beyond writing a "really cool Doctor Who story". Fair enough.
So here we are then. "Salvation". Ooh, one word, portentious title. The First Doctor in all his ornery glory, with a mildly miffed Steven Taylor along for the ride (reeling a bit from the events of "The Massacre") and in her first grand appearance . . . Dodo! Everyone's favorite accent shifting character!
Meanwhile, some other stuff happens with gods in Central Park but that's not really import-
Oh, just kidding. Some beings show up in NYC claiming to be gods and granting people's desires, which everyone is okay with except for the Doctor and the military (UNIT aside, that's not a combination you see every day), leading the Doctor to figure out what makes them tick and how to stop them. Because you know they have to be stopped.
I wish I could get more descriptive about the story or wax a tad more effusively over it but despite its best efforts, the story remains squarely average. Which isn't unique to this line, but some of the authors could get around this by showing a bit of flair (see both "The Face-Eater" and "Beltempest") to make up for the rather plain trappings of the plot. Here, it stays the course the whole time and thus things never really get exciting. Sure, Lyons does a good Hartnell impression, Taylor is as reliable as ever and he makes a valiant effort in coming up with a reasonable explanation for why Dodo wandered into the TARDIS (since the show's producers couldn't be bothered to figure out one at the time) or why ol' Dorothea couldn't seem to decide which region of the home country she came from.
But if you come away from this novel pleased that someone actually bothered to give us a plausible explanation for the Dodo conundrum that had been bothering you all these years, then we probably aren't this book for the same reasons.
The god plot isn't anything new, nor is the "they feed off the power of our beliefs" and since you pretty much know a lack of belief is going to do them in, you're merely marking time until someone figures out what you did ages ago. Lyons tries to go for the sweeping relevancy of god debate, but sort of hedges his bets by making clear that these are just aliens pretending to be gods, instead of leaving it as a question mark in our mind. Once its clear that its just another alien invasion, things become more run of the mill.
Which is the problem here. It's very nice and all but there's nothing really striking to take away from it. And we need more than middling, because if the best I can get from the novels is a middling version of a TV show that takes up an entire shelf on my DVD rack . . . well, I can pop in a disc any day and watch average William Hartnell. And I'd rather do that than read someone else's impression of average Hartnell.