Published on September 21st, 2005 | by Christian Cawley
BBC Books Review #2: The Monsters Inside
The second book in the series of adventures featuring the Ninth Doctor and Rose is a brave attempt to replicate the style of the TV series; mixing traditional Who elements such as a base under siege with a modern twist â€“ prisoners being used to create and design weapons – it also reintroduces the Slitheen and another clan known as the Blathereen. Sadly, the development of the Raxacoraphalipatoriansâ€™ interactions and motivations is by far and away the most interesting aspect of this tale.
The initial hook of the story â€“ a power loss affecting the TARDIS and forcing her to land â€“ is reminiscent of the 1973 Pertwee serial Death to the Daleks however things take a turn for the worse a lot sooner than in that particular adventure, both dramatically and for the reader. What makes this more disappointing is the fact that this is Roseâ€™s first visit to alien soil. So much more could have been done with this concept, even within the constraints of the television seriesâ€¦
While the concepts introduced in the story are things to get the imagination going, there is a distinct lack of pace about proceedings. The Doctor is paired up with a few aliens and a Dawn French lookalike in his particular prison one which demands that the scientists work towards developing weapons and imposed research. Meanwhile the prison Rose finds herself in is like a bad episode of “Bad Girls”. So you can imagine how bad that is.
The idea of expanding on the Raxacoraphalipatorianâ€™s society is a good one, and the Blathereen are by far the most interesting characters. Their concept of superiority is similar to that of the now down-at-heel Slitheenâ€™s ancestors from Aliens of London, but on a far bigger scale.
Roseâ€™s relationships with others her own age are a major focus of her time in prison, and separated from the Doctor, she does at least have the opportunity to be an inspiring character. Similarly seeing the Doctor working alone gives us an opportunity to see a different side to number nine. The characterization of both Rose and the Doctor are spot on, even down to evoking Ecclestonâ€™s intonation and mannerisms.
But what sets this book apart from Justin Richardâ€™s interesting and quirky The Clockwise Man is the absurd level of technobabble. It would be an exaggeration to say I logged on to Amazon after reading this in order to purchase a Star Trek novel â€“ but I wasnâ€™t far away. While the concepts of some of the technology mentioned was totally fine, the route Steve Lyons took the read in explaining it was a bit too much for a general audience, which is what this range of Doctor Who books are aimed at. Of key interest were the blobs, used to control the Doctorâ€™s movement around his prison. They might have been very similar to the devices used to capture Mr Incredible in Syndromeâ€™s lair, but Iâ€™m sure that was because they are a great idea.
Anyone wanting to learn more about the Slitheenâ€™s race should read this book, but really anything we really needed to know was dealt with in Boom Town. For the second book of a series pitched at the whole market but in particular the Harry Potter audience, The Monsters Inside reads very much like a book for aficionados.