Most helpful critical review
on 19 April 2013
Paul Leonard has improved slightly since the awful Genocide, but not by much.
The story of Dreamstone Moon is kept pretty simple, and easy to follow. You are introduced to Anton who reluctantly uses a dreamstone to enhance his dreams, you catch up with Sam and eventually you follow the Doctor. The main premise of Dreamstone Moon is that a company is mining dreamstone, which is a mineral which enhances dreams. Some eco warriors are fighting the miners so Sam gets cosy with them, whilst the Doctor arrives suspects that dreamstone isn't quite what it is cracked up to be and then promptly gets captured. The story is pretty generic science fiction and is pretty hard to follow at times, but whether this is due to Leonard not explaining things properly or just my lack of interest in following the technobabble I haven't actually figured out. The story isn't anywhere near the painstaking ordeal of Genocide, and for the most part it held my interest, despite me not fully understanding why something was happening. The ending did seem pretty abrupt, nothing was explained very clearly so I was left knowing why things happened, but not so much how.
In Genocide Leonard had the Doctor acting very un-Doctor like by not getting involved, and spending the vast majority of the novel captured. Dreamstone Moon improves on this by actually having his characterization down this time around, but again he spends far too much of the novel absent or captured. I'd have preferred it if the story was totally Doctorless, like Face of the Enemy, but with Sam as the main, but instead you keep wanting the Doctor to show up and wow you but he does so just once, right at the end.
Dreamstone Moon is totally Sam's story. We catch up with her, still on the Kusk ship floating aimlessly in space. She is quickly rescued by the dreamstone miners and makes friends with an eco warrior and soon throws her lot in with them. Sam soon ends up in mortal peril again but without the Doctor is forced to make her own decisions and save her own skin. My main hope of the "Sam is Missing" arc was that Sam would mature and hopefully come through the other side as a far more interesting individual. Leonard certainly goes a long way to make this the case, and you do start to warm to the character far more than in previous novels.
The supporting cast are also pretty good, however they are not really consistent. One character hates all aliens to the point of wanting to kill them, yet changes her tune to trusting the Doctor with no reasoning whatsoever. They are also all mostly non-humanoid which seems to be Leonards gimmick. It isn't a good one, and is just annoying trying to keep up with so many different races.
Dreamstone Moon rights many of the wrongs that ruined Genocide for me but I still found Paul Leonard's writing style grated on me. It's not really a book for the casual fan, as it deals with the impact of Sam running away and features little of the Doctor but it is still a reasonable novel for Eighth Doctor fans.