Doctor Who – ‘Winner Takes All’ by Jacqueline Rayner

Reinstated from Scary Rob’s Doctor Who Blog

I bought the first three books of the BBC’s tie-in to the new series on a whim, seeing them 3 for 2 in Waterstones and feeling a few withdrawal symptoms after the end of the series 13-episode run. Having not had time to read lately, it’s taken me almost the whole semester to get through this book (I don’t know if it was intended as the first of the three, but it’s the first one I’ve read). Right now I’m a little way through the second one, but I’m making better progress due to having a little more leisure time right now.

Within a few pages, I had soon lost any sense that I may have wasted fourteen pounds, as Jac Rayner is a brilliant writer who draws you into whatever world she’s built, something made easier by the contemporary London setting. The plot focuses on the activities of a race of monsters (well, anthropomorphic porcupines) using holidays and computer games given away with scratch cards to manipulate humans into fighting a war with their enemies the Mantodeans for them. Humanity is happy to play along because, hey, everyone wants something for nothing.

There is a level on which this book jars a little. It’s obvious that Rayner is a Doctor Who author first and foremost and she mixes New Adventures realism with her very New Series plot. Personally, I feel that the style of the TV series (which Rayner evokes very well) doesn’t sit too comfortably with one of the main characters being hospitalised by a street thug. This kind of thing is hardly unusual in the 90s novels but is a little grim for a tie-in to the camper TV series. Maybe it’s just me…

In all, this is a very good read that I’d recommend to anybody. Like the TV series, it feels like it’s pitched not just at children but at an adult audience who can appreciate its subtleties.


~ by Scary Rob on 14 December, 2005.

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