Last Man Running,
This review is from: Doctor Who: Last Man Running (Mass Market Paperback)
Last Man Running is the second 4th Doctor novel in the Past Doctor Adventure range written by Chris Boucher.
The main plot of Last Man Running is The Doctor and Leela arriving on a planet at the same time as a group of investigators who are searching for an escaped man (a runner). They soon find the planet has extremely odd vegetation and is almost totally devoid of wildlife and it becomes apparent they are part of a weapons testing facility and unwitting test subject of the runners experiments.
Boucher has created his own terminology for the group of investigators which is thoroughly offputting, The odd usage is bearable but they are also mentioned far too commonly and you wonder if you've missed a bit explaining just what they are. It then becomes clear that that is how Boucher wants it to be as the Doctor asks himself the same questions. A pointless sub-plot in my eyes.
The first half of Last Man Running is more about survival in the wild whilst the latter half switches to a more science fiction style. The two styles don't really work together which lets the book down, the actual heart of the story isn't a bad concept, it just isn't done particularly well and you do find your mind wandering ever so slightly in the lull between the more action packed scenes. For such a short novel the ending took a long time to get over and done with, and when it ended I wasn't entirely sure what had actually happened. It was fairly confusing, and the fate of the empire is still left unresolved.
The Doctor is a fairly mediocre 4th, only really discernible by his long coat, hat and scarf. I enjoyed the fact that the scarf is used early on as a plot device but other than that his characterization is lacking to say the least. Companion wise we have the annoying Leela, so annoying in fact that even the Doctor wants to be shot of her in the very first chapter. That said the story of the book does suit her quite well as a hunter and if you like Leela, then you'll probably approve of her characterization here.
The investigators are fairly dull, the usual mix of older people, younger people, people who want power, people who want to retire and a couple who just want to get it on. They serve the purpose of the story fairly well but Boucher's characterization just isn't that great and you don't feel for any of them. Even the plot twists, which I didn't see coming felt very lackluster as I quite simply didn't care.
Last Man Running is an average PDA which would probably have been better served as a TV serial than a novel. There is nothing much to love, but likewise nothing much to hate either. A forgettable, middle of the road adventure.