Top positive review
What makes an ideal companion?
on 12 October 2013
Charlie Higson must be an obvious choice for one of these novellas orientated for younger readers. He manages the medium successfully, making the storyline seem longer than its length allows. Events are set on both an alien world and in ancient Bablyon, providing a nice contrast between environments. It helps make the story feel more varied and gives it more depth. The atmosphere of Babylon is easily created despite the small world count.
The strongest element of this book is undoubtedly that of the character of Ali. To all intents and purposes she comes across as a companion in the making for most of the story. It is almost as if the author is giving us a lesson in how the Doctor chooses his fellow travellers. The revelations that unfold about her during the course of the story are cunningly revealed at a steady and appropriate rate and explore the Doctor's attitudes towards how he chooses his companions. Ali is a very well constructed and fully dimensional character. She is also vaguely reminiscent of Zoe and Romana in the way that she considers herself to be the Doctor's intellectual equal.
The essence of the Ninth Doctor is captured quite well. The basic template of Eccleston's performance is there. Higson gives him a little depth in voicing his personal concerns about Rose and how he selects companions. As the story takes place within the last couple of minutes of the television episode 'Rose' this is an interesting insight that wasn't provided on screen. The Doctor's attitudes towards Ali, although for the most part enlightening, feel a little off in the closing stages of the story. It is a little difficult to accept that he is so accepting of some of her actions, seeming a little out of character for the Doctor.
Although not, perhaps, particularly a celebration of its respective Doctor's brief tenure as some of the previous instalments in this series have been, this story still provides a good insight into the Doctor. It is a still a well paced and enjoyable plot and a good addition to the series.