Top critical review
The last Time Lord meets the last dodo
on 6 June 2016
This is a fairly early adventure for Marth in the Tardis. She is clearly still adjusting to what the Tardis is capable of and when asked where she would like to visit in all of time and space, much to the Doctor’s disappointment, she can only think of suggesting the zoo. The Doctor’s plans to do this in his usual style results in them arriving at one of the most extreme ‘zoos’ in the universe, one the size of a planet which contains in suspended animation the last living example of every species to become extinct.
Obviously the whole novel depends heavily on the idea of this strange zoo, the Museum of the Lost Ones. It is an interesting concept but does lead to the story being cluttered with multiple ecological issues that aren’t really explored in any coherent way. Some weighty subjects are glossed over in a light hearted manner. If there was intended to be a moral message to this book it gets a bit lost in events, clichés and all the teleporting around.
The ‘I-Spyder’ element is a novel idea. It is a device given to Marth by the Doctor that works as a kind of datapad-cum-guidebook to animal spotting. For the purpose of the plot it serves as an artifice to make the narrative focus more on Martha when the Doctor is off doing things and potentially serves the purpose in the real world of educating younger readers about extinct species. However, every time the book devotes a couple of pages to what the machine is supposedly displaying it quite drastically breaks up the pacing, action and dramatic tension. The novelty soon wears off and it does become a bit tedious and irritating.
The Doctor is reasonably well characterised but much of this comes from how Martha perceives him. This is an adventure really portrayed from the companion’s [perspective and much of it is written as Marth in the first person. This is a somewhat different approach from the bulk of the BBC Doctor Who books published around the same period and make sit stand out a bit.
However, the characterisation of Martha is often a tad off, sometimes feeling like a younger, less mature version of the onscreen character. Also some of the cultural references don’t seem like things Martha would be interested in.
A small part of the novel is also related from the perspective of a dodo, named after an earlier companion of the Doctor’s.
The novel is fun and mildly amusing for the most part. The story, although entertaining, is a little predictable. However, it does have an unexpected twist after you think everything has been resolved.