Doctor Who: The Secret Lives of Monsters
By Justin Richards
Reviewed by DJ Forrest
‘Keep your wits about you and your eyes open. Don’t blink, don’t get complacent. And watch out for the monsters – because you never know when they might…..’ Doctor John Smith – former scientific advisor to UNIT
I’m a geek, an ultimate fan of the Whoniverse and all that sail within it. Obviously my love of Who came before my love of Torchwood – it goes without saying really, and whenever I see a hardback Who book I have to have it. As beyond the glossy hardback cover are equally glossy inner pages that smell of the ink they were printed on, shine with the illustrations and photos of the creatures you have only fantasised in dreams and action games, that you convinced every grown up you were only involved with because the kids wanted to play them.
I’m a mad collector of glossy hardbacks with the Who images, but they have to be decent books, I’m not going to collect it just because it says Doctor Who. I have to know that the information contained alongside the photographs is filled with enough detail I could practically break down that creature and rebuild it in my head. Although to be fair, given the amount of Who episodes I’ve watched over the years, that level of imagination doesn’t have to work too hard. Only where a new character that hasn’t had any screen time is worthy of a little bit of creative imagination!!!
Published in 2014 by BBC Books – Doctor Who: The Secret Lives of Monsters is written by Justin Richards with illustrations by Peter McKinstry. There are 16 monsters contained within the pages, from Oods to Daleks, Cybermen to Zygons, with Weeping Angels scaring us into the past.
In much the same style as that of the Torchwood Archive book written by Gary Russell, this holds some level of that style of writing. The book is classed as Non – Fiction, which to most of us means that this book is about the facts of the creatures including the Behind the Scenes look at how they were made, from the first cast, to the actual finished product. But it portrays the details of the Cybermen and Daleks that you first encounter as if they are very real, and with the backed up evidence of witnessed reports, it’s very much like those old UFO sighting books you read as a kid, desperate to know if there really was life on other planets, now hurtling their way to Earth.
‘In this book we bring together the evidence that has emerged over the past few years and throw light into the darkest corners of the universe. We draw on information from the secretive UNIT organisation, and the even more shadowy Torchwood Institute. Many of the classified documents we refer to are only available now thanks to the untiring efforts of investigative journalists……’
A lot of books you buy have a portfolio of each character, summed up in a thinly detailed Top Trumps style rating, but this doesn’t. I’m in love with this book. There is so much detail I could gush about it for days, but I still probably couldn’t fully detail it without photographing every single page, but where’s the fun in that? It would be better to own your own copy. It’s priced at £20, you could buy it for half that price on Amazon, or you could visit your local library and ask them nicely to order it in for you so you could stroke the front cover and pore over the pages and hope that the next 6 weeks drag so you can keep it for as long as possible, because my friends, this book is absolutely brilliant and I for one, do not want to part with it.
I managed to nab this book at the library before anyone else had a chance to read it…I have to give it back next week, unfortunately. *pouts*
The book took the author Justin Richards 6 months to compile and you can definitely tell that a lot of hard work and researching had gone into it.
If you didn’t enjoy the Classic era of Who, or you were too young to really follow it, this book will tease you back into the enjoyment of the characters such as the Yeti, which looks like a taller version of the 2nd Doctor’s fur coat if that photo is anything to go by. Oh sorry, you’ll have to obtain the book to see what I’m talking about.
It’s like the Adventure Books for Boys that you read as a kid, the moment you turn the page you’re suddenly absorbed into a story about monsters that have the feeling of being more fact than fiction, backed up with documents and snippets of confidential papers from Torchwood and Queen Victoria, collaborations from various scientific bodies, all converging to bring the history of the Daleks and Cybermen together, noting down where they came from, which era of Cybermen attacked Canary Wharf, the life of Davros, the details of the Osterhagen System do I need to go on?
Seriously can’t I keep it?
Oh and don’t forget to read the After Word, that is absolutely vitally important.