The Monsters Inside
By DJ Forrest
Written by Stephen Cole
BBC Doctor Who novel
Stephen is my new favourite Who writer. I initially thought I was reading a Steve Lyons novel purely because on merit, there is a lot of detail, a lot of action, and there’s no talking down to the reader. I now want to find other novels written by Cole, that may not necessarily be about our favourite Time Lord.
From the get go I was enthralled by the sheer magnitude of the story. The Doctor and Rose, land on a planet where before them slaves as it appears, are building a giant pyramid. On closer inspection, it turns out that they’re prisoners, and they’re on a prison planet, and are arrested for supposedly trespassing without due reason. Rose is sent to Borstal, where it’s a bit like teenage Wentworth, and the Doctor is sent to a scientific labour camp, and put to work.
In many of the Doctor and companion stories, there’s many ways of them reuniting and joining forces, good triumphing over evil. This again is one of them, but there’s a lot more than one planet in the way of them joining forces for some time. Rose, isn’t the most scientific of the bunch of companions who have travelled with the Doctor, of course, she’s a lot cleverer than Donna, but each of the companions have their own strengths, and much of Rose’s are put to the test in this, plus a lot of her weaknesses.
There’s also a surprise return of a scary monster that I’m not going to reveal, and it was interesting to discover that there are different varieties of these species, and just like human beings, these two hate each other. It seems that there’s a level of class, such as we have in our own society. One is regarded as the rag and bone merchant whereas the other is up there with the rich and knowledgeable, and you find yourself, rooting for the rag and bone merchant over the rich and knowledgeable, because underneath it all, even in those dark times when the Doctor is up against it, you can empathise with them.
Like in all stories, Rose finds a likeable ally who she becomes close to, and after some altercations with the Queen Bee of the inmates, forges long lasting friendships with many, albeit till the end of the novel when you know the Doctor and Rose will be on their merry way. There are familiar characters that you want to hope will see it through to the end. There are some you wish weren’t going to make it through at all, although, you also kind of hope the Doctor will have a showdown with them. There are a lot of showdowns in this novel.
What I enjoyed about the story which has taken almost 3 weeks to finish – bedtime reading – is the sheer detail on every page. This writer knows his planets and you can picture each and every scene unfolding, especially when you discover what the Monster inside the prison is. That was a joy!
I don’t tend to rate novels that I read, as in an out of 10 or out of 5, but if I had to, I’d rate this a solid 10.
It’s a 9th Doctor story and I only wish more novels were written for this Time Lord as they have been a joy to read so far. If you haven’t read it yet, this is a definite must. It’s all action and an edge of the seat kind of story.