The Blitz is at its height. As the Luftwaffe bomb London, Cody McBride, ex-pat American private eye, sees a sinister silver sphere crash-land. He glimpses something emerging from within. The military dismiss his account of events - the sphere must be a new German secret weapon that has malfunctioned in some way. What else could it be?
Arriving amid the chaos, the Doctor and Ace embark on a trail that
brings them face to face with hidden Nazi agents, and encounter some very old
I love ‘Doctor Who’ books, they’re
a not very secret but definitely guilty pleasure of mine. If they’re not
helping me catch up on stories that I never saw on TV, they’re filling in gaps
in between the Doctor’s journeys and giving us even more stories to get into.
The old Target novelizations will do me for half of my daily commute but ‘Illegal
Alien’ is about three times the length and so has kept me going for a bit
longer. It’s fair to say that ‘Doctor Who’ is one of those things that you
either ‘get’ or you don’t and if you don’t get it then you’re unlikely to be
picking the books up anyway. That automatically makes these books ones for fans
only but the good news here is that ‘Illegal Alien’ falls very much into the ‘one
that fans will very much enjoy’ category.
‘Illegal Alien’ has all the
ingredients that any ‘Doctor Who’ story (book or TV show) needs to be
successful, a lot of adventure all playing out for high stakes and being
manipulated by someone who might just have outsmarted the Doctor himself. You
have the iconic villain (in this case, the Cybermen) getting up to no good
amongst a human cast who think that they are in control of things whilst being
anything but. The Cybermen are great anyway but Tucker and Perry really bring
them to life on the page with a real sense of presence alongside the
destruction that they are able to wreak. This is one of the darker ‘Doctor Who’
books that I have read(maybe even the darkest) with the horror of the blitz
combining with the horror of how the Cybermen increase their number. Tucker and
Perry really take advantage of the fact that you can write stuff in a book that
they would never let you show on TV. You have to experience some things by
yourself to really get the full effect and these passages very much fall into
that. All I’ll say is that the ‘Cyber baby’ is not as cute as it sounds, it’s
not cute in the least bit..
Tucker and Perry also really lay on the horrors of the
blitz as well as the wider war itself; not only is the appropriate respect paid
to a turbulent point in history but the constant bombing etc takes the reader’s
attention off important plot stuff until it really matters and is a big
surprise. We also get a sense of urgency as both sides are racing to use
captured Cyber technology in order to win the war. People will do anything if
they can then say that they are trying to do the right thing, this is used
to develop certain characters in interesting ways over the course of the book.
‘Illegal Alien’ is a dark book
then but it’s also a typical Doctor Who book with the Doctor and Ace running
all over London and getting into all sorts of trouble before somehow managing
to get out of it. It’s no different in that respect from any other Doctor Who
story but again, Tucker and Perry avoid any potential pitfalls here by really
capturing the two characters and what makes them so distinguishable. They’re
doing the same old stuff but it’s the fact that it’s them doing it which makes
proceedings so memorable. The fact that there are sub-plots dovetailing in and
out of the main plot makes for an engaging read totally unlike some of the more
linear tales that I have read in the past. There is always something going on
and it all happens at a breakneck pace.
‘Illegal Alien’ is a book that it’s
all too easy to get into and not as easy to put down. I was left hoping that
the rest of the books in the ‘Monster Collection’ are as good and then I
remembered that I reviewed two of them way back on the old blog :o) Click on
the links for what I thought of ‘Touched by an Angel’ and ‘Prisoner of theDaleks’.
But back to ‘Illegal Alien’… It’s
a great read and I totally recommend it to anyone who’s a fan or thinking of
checking out ‘Doctor Who’ books, you won’t be disappointed (I wasn’t).