Top critical review
Ok, but too many cliches, advance and retreat, and corny characters.
on 24 April 2015
This starts out ok, if a little more like an episode of classic trek than doctor who. In fact it's a bit like the episode Devil in the Dark, with a monster lurking about in the tunnels etc . The characterisation and dialogue for the doctor is pretty good to start with, and you can picture the fifth doctor. Nyssa has little do for most of the book except be ill or asleep. Tegan is written reasonably well. The other characters are corny. There are some shameless and crude attempts to get us to care about them, such as repeatedly talking about the young daughter of one of them and how she needs her daddy to come home. These characters are too cartoon for us to really give two hoots about them.
When Captain Lawrence arrives in response to a distress call, and has an antagonistic relationship with the female leader of the rogue mining team, I groaned then laughed out loud to read that, you guessed it, they had a romantic past together. I will leave you to take a wild guess as to how their apparent loathing of each other turns out. . . . Suffice to say that this was cheese of the corniest nature.
There is to be fair a good degree of interest story wise for the first half or so of the book. This degenerates rather, into a repeating pattern of the doctor insisting that they go towards the danger and then have to run away. This all feels a bit pointless. The end result is that the doctor feels pretty useless and if anything more likely to get people killed. He is never in control and rarely appears to have much to offer, but instead gets dragged along by the events. It's sort of the antithesis of the tenth doctors almost messiah like powers. I accept that the fifth doctor was much more dithering and unsure, but in this story he starts to feel more of a blundering liability than he should. To be fair this is made at least in part inevitable by him being under the mental influence of the enemy, but that to me renders him pretty un-doctor like for much of the time, which is not really what I want in a doctor who book.
When the remaining humans finally decide to blast off of the surface, they take an absolute age doing so. This being despite the monster that can kill them in a second being hot on their heels! They even allow someone to give a long explanation of their back story and current position, including why they think as they do, when there is no reason why he can't do this after they have safely taken off.
The various futile encounters with the blood sucker and the 'Dark' finally come to a climax during one of the many to'ing and fro'ings into the caves etc . The doctor finally has a brief lucid moment of doctorish behaviour and its all over. So it's not terrible and entertaining in parts, but rather let down by corny additional characters, too much pointless advance and retreat, and a doctor who is not himself.