In the world of Doctor Who, Nicholas Briggs is the man. Yet even the most astute Doctor Who fans might be challenged to identify him in a lineup. And yet, he is a rockstar for Whovians. He is the voice behind the Daleks and the Cybermen. Only the two longest running and most infamous Doctor Who villains. So who better to write a novel about Daleks than the man himself! Oh, did we mention he also happens to be an incredible writer? More on that below.
The Doctor is just minding his own business traveling through time and space when he picks up a distress call. But try as he may, something (or someone) has pushed him off track and he isn’t able to save the two physicists aboard. It turns out that the Daleks threatened to board the physicists’ ship. They felt the information they had was too dangerous to end up in the hands of the Daleks and so chose suicide. And while this is tragic enough, The Doctor realizes he isn’t alone on this ship. He finds three young children and ends up in the unenviable position of having to explain to them that their parents are dead.
The kids in this story are great. Sometimes children in stories seem forced and take away from the plot. But these three are wonderful, clever and interesting. Especially Ollus, with his ever present spaceship toy. A toy used a few times by The Doctor to get them out of trouble.
Of course, this is the Eleventh Doctor. And he adores children. In fact, Amy Pond once said “If you were that old and that kind and the very last of your kind, you couldn't just stand there and watch children cry.” Sure, she said it about a starwhale but really, she said it about The Doctor. So very much in character, he musters all of his paternal instinct to care for these children. He learns that they live on one of the many Sunlight planets created and run by the Daleks. And they view the Daleks as saviors. Not a word generally used for these power and murder hungry aliens.
Of course this peaks The Doctor’s interest. So he speaks out against the Daleks. Which only leads to allegations of hate crimes, a kangaroo court and the children being taken away. But these Daleks seem…strange. They aren’t exterminating people. So The Doctor manages to get the children and escape custody. He then really begins to investigate this strange world where the people think the Daleks are “nice.”
And what The Doctor discovers is that, on this world, the Daleks ARE nice. At least as nice as Daleks can be. The people aren’t brainwashed and they seem genuinely happy with their lives. Ok. They’re a little brainwashed by television but not anymore than we are (wait is this a social commentary…Briggs, you sneaky bastard).
Of course this isn’t to say that the Daleks aren’t up to no good. It turns out there is great power on this planet that the children’s parents died to protect. And it seems to be activated by the children. So of course, as “nice” as the Daleks are on this world, that shit is not going to fly. But how will The Doctor convince this reality show obsessed culture that evil is lurking in their very midst?
We’re not going to give the whole thing away. This was a really fun read. We had a hard time putting the book down. It’s definitely the kind of book you read before you go to bed at night only to realize you’ve been reading for a couple of hours.
And don’t worry Whovians. Nicholas Briggs is very faithful to the character of The Doctor. Right down to his quirky habits and the way he readjusts his bowtie before kicking ass. And his gentle, yet tough, approach to handling problems. And of course, GERONIMO! The Doctor’s paternal instincts really shine in this novel in a way that is very genuine to his character. This is a man who values the miracle of life and it shines throughout the novel. He may make an awkward guardian, but it is clear he is a caring one. Nicholas Briggs does an amazing job of capturing the complexity of this very ancient, yet very young man. It doesn’t hurt that Briggs is a Doctor Who insider. But still, we must give credit where credit is due. And Briggs is certainly due credit.
We mentioned this before, but we are also very impressed with how Briggs was able to write young characters without making them obnoxious. The three young children in this book are delightful and add positively to the story.
But we bet you’re wondering how well the King of the Daleks wrote the Daleks? We were very impressed by the Daleks. We imagine it is very easy and tempting to make them flat characters. But throughout the novel it is very easy to sense the rage building up inside these bastards as they have to pretend to be “nice.” Yet despite acting very out of character, they were still very much Daleks. And you know how we feel about our Daleks…
So would we recommend this novel? Absolutely! It’s a very fun adventure and an easy read that you will find yourself unable to put down. It would be a fun read for Whovians and non-Whovians alike. It is just a really fun adventure novel that doesn’t pretend to take itself too seriously. Nicholas Briggs does an incredible job at capturing everything we love about Doctor Who and putting it into a novel that doesn’t read like fanfiction. We tip our fezzes to you sir.