I know I said the last book was fanwanky. I don't take that back in the least. This book is even more fanwanky than the last, and it didn't make me feel any better about the Doctor leaving Ace and Benny to fend for themselves. Right now, I'm pretty darn disgusted with him.
So what was the Doctor doing while Ace and Benny were off coping with the deliberately-crashed TARDIS? Stowing away on a cruise ship, kind of foiling a Cyberinvasion. I say "kind of," because really some of the humans do a fairly credible job of handling parts of it themselves.
Don't get me wrong, without the Doctor things would have been far worse. And yet the real moments of bravery in this book are all human. Some are fairly improbable. Some are realistic. Some completely sabotage the suspension of disbelief. And some of them are completely offscreen.
And that's where this book falls down: it's very much "tell, don't show." I could be charitable and say that's because the main character is a reporter, but it doesn't excuse everything. She tells us, for instance, that she saved the Doctor's life. We could have gathered that by her thought process in the previous scene and her noting she has a syringe. We could have been shown the plunger going on and the effect of the medication on a guy with two hearts. But no, we are told instead. We are told about her father's problematic relationship with her mother and what happened after the accident. We are told about an artist's suspected arms deals. We are told that the Cybermen have taken over certain people, but it's never shown how they reacted. One moment most of the base is fine, the next they're Cyber-pawns.
I could have forgiven a lot if there was more show than tell, but at the end of the book the offer the Doctor makes to Ruby made me want to throw the book against the wall. This is probably a personal thing, but given the state of things with Ace and Benny it irritated me beyond belief. The poly community has a saying for one of the biggest mistakes you can make in a relationship (and this goes for friendships as well): "Relationship broken? Add more people!" Adding more participants to a malfunctioning group is not the way to fix anything. It's a really good way to make it completely splinter. And yet the Doctor was ready to bring Ruby into the TARDIS? Thank goodness that wasn't a real reset of the status quo, because it's a complete disaster waiting to happen. The Doctor needs to either focus on the current crew, or "break up" with them. I can only imagine the reaction Ace would have to Ruby. Benny's might have been more measured, but both of them would have been justified in telling the Doctor to go do anatomically impossible things if he'd shown himself with a new Companion.
I am really hoping the next book is better. The highs of the New Adventures are wonderful. The lows... well, they're pretty darn low.
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