Friday, October 14, 2016

Review: Doctor Who - American Adventures by Justin Richards

Travel through time and space with the Twelfth Doctor in these six brand new
adventures, set in a host of locations across the US and eras from throughout
US history.  
An invisible spacecraft turns up at the Battle of New Orleans, an alien presence
is detected at the 1944 D-Day landings, and ghosts take over New York's
subway tunnels as they're being dug in the early 1900s...  
Filled with mystery, excitement and the Doctor's trademark wit, these timeywimey
stories will delight any Doctor Who fan.

Rating: 2 Stars

I received a free copy of this book from Edelweiss/NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Note: I requested this novel from Edelweiss first and requested it from NetGalley under the impression that it was a graphic novel adaptation of the same work, which I would have compared in a side-by-side review. When I opened the NetGalley copy, it turned out to be a regular novel too, so honest note here, I'm reviewing for both sites.

All That Glitters

The first story in this collection is a generic wild west story. That sounds like it could be a cool premise, given the 11th Doctor's fondness for Stetsons. However, the story fell flat on its face at the end. The build up was to an alien that was trying to rebuild itself and we don't learn much else before the Doctor defeats him by shoving him off a cliff.

That is it. The literal end to the story is one moment the Doctor is on the cliff with the alien/monster, the bad guy goes down, and it's over. What kind of resolution is that? It was disappointing, to say the least.

Off the Trail

The beginning of this story had the feel of a Twilight Zone episode. That was interesting because it lent a very creepy feel to the story. I got a good sense of settling into the story, which was a pickup after the previous tale.

Things started changing, though, when the Doctor appeared, and that's a huge problem considering this is a Doctor Who story. The bad guy of the story was a let down and the resolution, while admittedly a bit better than All The Glitters, was still a let down. Too simple, too easy, even for the Doctor.

Ghosts of New York

The first couple of pages of this story got me to the heart of one of the problems that I have with this author. He's more of a teller than a shower and that isn't effective in this instance. It made for a very dry experience and when, in Ghosts of New York you're talking about subway tunnels, you've got to put a lot more effort into it to make it interesting.

The premise of an abandoned alien ship forgotten beneath New York City was a bit more interesting than the previous stories, so while reading American Adventures the good thing is that the stories are progressively getting better, if not the manner in which they're told.

Taking the Plunge

This was the first entry that I felt could actually be an episode of Doctor Who. It's villain was nowhere close to the most evil that the Doctor has ever faced, nor was it the smartest, but it was good for a Saturday night read. It had a little bit of adventure in a somewhat familiar setting (a generic sounding theme park in Florida but really I was picturing Disney World the whole time), an easily pictured baddie (physically and scheme wise [it really has been done before]), and a tied up conclusion.

Spectator Sport

This story has potential. The Doctor stumbles upon a tourist vehicle in the midst of a Civil War battle. He disapproves, naturally, but while on board an attempted murder occurs. Seeking justice, he is determined to find out who was behind the attempt. The would be assassin soon reappears, the Doctor is able to defeat him easily enough, and the story ends.

What? I'm sorry, did I just miss the end of the story? I actually went back and re-read it twice just to make wure, but no, there's actually no real ending for this story. The would be assassin has no motive that is evident, and while it's clear he's working for someone, you never find out who it is or why they want the potential victim dead. This story plummeted to the bottom of my esteem when it flat-lined the story right at the finish line.

Base of Operations

The only thing that I really liked about this story was towards the end when the Doctor was confronting the alien species that wanted to invade Earth this time. His strong stance towards them, defending the Earth and explaining that it would always be defended, is a core element of the Doctor's persona.


The quality of the stories was all over the place. Some were really bland, some were slightly better. This work was not a particularly good entry into Doctor Who canon based on that alone, but also because it is not recognizable as belonging to any particular Doctor's time period.

The characterization was very disappointing. The Doctor is technically the same "person", but each regeneration has its own distinct flair. What I failed to see in these stories was a distinguishable flair. The Doctor pictured on the cover was 12; when told that, I could picture him in the stories. However, if there were no regeneration pictured, then I wouldn't have been able to tell you when these stories took place in the Doctor's life. That made me sad as a longtime fan of the Doctor.

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