This review is from: Doctor Who: Millennium Shock (Mass Market Paperback)
Millennium Shock is a 4th Doctor novel by Justin Richards and a follow up to his previous novel System Shock. As per usual with a Justin Richards’ novel, it features a plot with many twists and turns and sub-plots.
The premise is that a company called Silver Bullet are putting a chip into various electrical devices which allow them to control it remotely, and will also trigger once the new Millennium dawns thanks to the Y2K bug.
The story is bordering Tom Clancy territory, with an alien race shoe-horned in to make it Doctor Who. Personally I don’t think Justin Richards should be doing Doctor Who novels like this, he obviously enjoys a good spy thriller, but Doctor Who just isn’t the place for it, at least not in the quantities Richards seems to be churning them out. You also have to beg the question why MI5, the Military and the CIA are used, when using UNIT would be more of a tie in to the Doctor Who Universe. It honestly reeks of original novel with Doctor Who stuffed into it. The actual plot is interesting and well researched, it just feels the Doctor is there for the ride.
Where the story is slightly lacking Richards make up for it in characterization. The 4th Doctor is portrayed wonderfully and Richards has his mannerisms and style down perfectly, the only negative being his absence from the early part of the novel and him sometimes coming across as Jack Ryan figure. For the first time in the PDA range the 4th Doctor’s companion isn’t Leela which is great news. Sarah Jane Smith makes the briefest of brief cameos leaving the Doctor to team up with Harry Sullivan again, albeit after he left him originally. Harry is done very well, with both his M15 persona and his social life being very interesting to read.
The main alien threat are the Voracians, a race already encountered in Richard’s System Shock for the Virgin range. Whilst a nice idea, I can’t help but think Richards included them to make the novel a Doctor Who one, and thier plot to take over Earth was originally due to be a criminal mastermind of sorts. They never really come across as true evil though. The supporting characters are all a bit hit and miss. Some are Voracian, some are not Voracian, some might be Voracian… you get the idea. The trouble with Richard’s novels is he has so many characters and plot twists and turns that no one really gets any chance for character building. Oh and the lack of UNIT is criminal.
Millennium Shock is pretty standard Justin Richards fare with absolutely nothing in it which will surprise you. Mediocre is probably the best word to describe it as it’s neither good nor is it bad. If you like Justin Richard’s other works then you’ll like this one too as it really is a Justin Richards novel by numbers. Personally however, I’d rather see him shake his formula up a bit.