This Seventh Doctor plus Bernice Summerfield New Adventure is really rather good. Paul Cornell here asks the unaskable: what if the Doctor were to try being human for a while, to live and love like the rest of us? He has managed to get to the heart of the Doctor's mythos. I found it very satisfying, and raced to finish it, to the point of waking up early this morning to do so. It's the first of the Doctor Who books I have downloaded that I would really like to spend money on for a dead trees version.
Bits I particularly liked: I thought the character of Verity resonated particularly effectively. "Verity" of course means Truth, and she holds the key to the truth about the Doctor's character; the name of course also recalls the real-life origins of Doctor Who; and the character herself is of course a very close reflection of Neil Gaiman's Death.
I also very much liked the human relationships of the book. I caught on to the true nature of Shuttleworth's liaisons pretty early on; the John Smith and Joan Redfern relationship was neatly done; and the Epilogue, which the author admits he had doubts about putting in, was very effective.
Great lines, too:
- "You may know me as mild-mannered John Smith, history teacher, but secretly I'm the Doctor, universal righter of wrongs and protector of cats."
- "So what did you say to him," the Doctor asked.
"That he believes in good and fights evil. That, with violence all around him, he's a man of peace. Thet he's never cruel, or cowardly. That he is a hero."