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2.7 out of 5 stars
Doctor Who: Rags
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on 4 February 2013
This is one of the most disappointing Doctor Who novels. Firstly because it isn't very well written (there is a lack of characterisation, the plot is flimsy and the structure of the text is often irritating) and secondly because it really doesn't feel like it is a Doctor Who story.

There is undoubtedly an over excess of violence. Even though the nature of the storyline necessitates a certain level of violence, most of it still seems very unnecessary. At times the story is little more than a string of gruesome acts. There is nothing wrong with violence in Doctor Who of course, and it has always been a part of it to some extent. However, Doctor Who has never really been gratuitously violent or concentrated on the type of horror gore this novel indulges in. The book feels as if it is a failed attempt to emulate something like `The Dark' or `The Fog' by James Herbert and that the Doctor and Unit have just been fitted into this story.

The Doctor doesn't really have much of a role and the characterisation of the Third Doctor is completely wrong. Sergeant Benton does little more than hang around in the background and the Brigadier is very two dimensional, completely lacking Nicholas Courtney's take on the role. Jo and Mike get a bit more to do and are allowed some character development but they too feel as if the author only has the most basic grasp of their characters. Apart from Kane, who is easily the best characterised, the other characters of the novel don't get much development. Even the main villain is very uninspiring.

There isn't much that happens in the book and the narrative often feels like it is just moving from one gruesome, bloodthirsty scene to the next. There are a lot of sections of the book where the text is divided into many small chunks. This was probably done to inject a sense of pace but because all these small sections are just filled with violence they just become a list of horrific acts which soon becomes quite tedious.

This is not a book to recommend if you like Doctor Who or horror stories. It is a weird hybrid of the two that doesn't really work.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on 1 February 2002
If you are a fan of the Pertwee era, give this book a wide berth. It deliberately insults the style and feel of the era by going for a violent bloodbath. The regular characters come over as very two dimensional, merely sharing their names and outward appearences with their TV counterparts. Lewis' characterisation is better with his own creations, but it's still a chore to read, giving little story development, but much concentration on graphic horror. If you like American Psycho, this might be the book for you. If you are looking for a light hearted fantasy based on an old television show that was aimed at family and children, don't look for it here. I persevered to the end and really wished I hadn't.
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4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on 27 February 2001
A very unique entry into the novels series-very gory and with a sense of quite explicit character. Beware the horror if easily queasy but enjoy also a well written novel, Dr Who at it's most disturbing. The only reservations are a total lack of humour and the clear annoyance of the author of having to include the Doctor, who is kept at arms length for the duration of the story. Never the less-recommended. Unique also for me as it has one of my local pub haunts on page 94 and Jo gets to snog another female character!!! Truly a one in a million occurence!! But remember, after reading Rags...don't have nightmares. They may come to haunt you back.
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3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Rags is, admittedly, an original piece of Earth-bound Who.
The story follows a quartet of mind inflicting ragamuffins, guised as a stereotypical punk rock band. Their course is plotted along the south of England by wanton slaughter, as they move from venue to venue, playing black concerts to suddenly frenzied spectators.
The Doctor is on the case, but is sadly removed from the majority of the action and UNIT watch the violence impassive, courtesy of the author.
Mick focuses on the issues and anxieties at the dawn of 'punk'. He uses all the necessary scope to compliment the clash of the class systems at the time, drawing on the darker side of human nature. Needless to say the story is terribly gritty and the book turns to horror, rather than science fiction.
Personally I feel the story is exaggeratingly gritty, when concentration on the Ragman character could have improved the plot, rather than a surplus use of swear words, for effect. The ending was obviously rushed and the author shows great disrespect towards the character the late Jon Pertwee created for us all to adore.
The book strays completely from the 'Doctor Who' theme we readers look forward to and sadly leaves disappointment upon closure.
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2 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on 10 March 2001
A strange series of violent events surround the tour of an unnamed band through England. UNIT investigate, first in the form of the Doctor and Jo and later, as the scale of events escalates, the troops are called in. But what is happening on the surface is nowhere near the full story...
This book is not what I would normally expect from a Third Doctor, as it contains a large proportion of violence and a relative small amount of the Doctor (I can't imagine Jon Pertwee would except such a relatively small role!).
Set in England in the 70s, with the punk rock revolution occurring, the story is one that is essentially a horror novel with Doctor Who characters involved, but the most pivotal roles go to characters who are introduced in this book.
It is a good enough book, quite readable, but the relatively passive roles that the regulars play is not likely to draw the regular Doctor Who reader in if the story doesn't suit.
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0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 4 November 2006
A different take on the Doctor Who series, and felt slightly out of place using the third Doctor. The book would probably have benefited more being written for the Eighth Doctor (McGann), where some of the stories take on a darker tone.

Obviously the story was slotted in for the Pertwee era because of the punk themes, which wouldn't be relevant today. However, the doctor does have a time machine so he could have travelled to the punk era.

Anyway, on to the book itself. It was a decent read, although not very Doctor Who like in premise. I feel that the book didn't need to be written as a Doctor Who novel. That's not to say the writer shouldn't have written the book, he just shouldn't have written it as part of the Doctor Who series.

It was too violent, bloody and adult for Doctor Who, which is based on a family TV show. The book comes accross as being written by a fustrated punk rock socialist, and I don't really want to think too deeply about real world politics when reading Doctor Who.

Maybe the writer wanted to use the book to attack the establishment, or the middle classes, but all told it just didn't really work for me.

Overall, not a bad book and worth reading for it's daring to be different. However I hope that stories like this don't make it to any more Pertwee era books.
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2 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on 26 July 2001
Free from turgid continuity and obsessions with the past, this novel is immensely readable. For those that bleat that it's disrepectful or too horrific; you've missed the point - that's the Ragman's bag, and you're just part of the fanboy establishment, that this most subversive of novels is sticking two fingers up at. From it's evocatively moody cover you get a wonderful idea of how this book is going to play out - and if you are up for some decent writing - rather than rehashed scripts, turgid prose, and overbearing continuity, then you will be rewarded.
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