Review: Only Human (Doctor Who #5)
Series: DW New Series #5
Also in this series: The Dalek Generation, Silhouette, The Story of Martha
Released by BBC Books on 8 September 2005
Genres: Science Fiction
Reports of a time disturbance lead the Ninth Doctor to modern-day London, where he discovers a Neanderthal Man, twenty-eight thousand years after his race became extinct. A trip back to the dawn of humanity only deepens the mystery: who are these strange humans from the far future now living in the distant past? The Doctor must learn the truth about the Osterberg experiment before history is changed forever.
An adventure featuring the Ninth Doctor as played by Christopher Eccleston and his companion Rose.
This story features the Ninth Doctor, Rose Tyler and Captain Jack Harkness. They end up 21st century Bromley where a Neanderthal man, named Das, has just been discovered in a hospital. While Jack looks after Das, the Doctor and Rose travel back to Bromley 28,000 years before, to see what went wrong. And what they find there is so weird, even the Doctor has no idea what to do.
Nine has always been one of my favourite Doctors, mainly because he was the first Doctor I saw, and Rose is just one of my favourite companions. When I saw that this novel included Jack as well, I was sold. Jack is also one of my favourite characters in Doctor Who (not so much in Torchwood, though, but that’s for another time). This story also features a lot of beautiful (and then I mean movie-star beautiful, that is how they were described every time) people from the year 438,533 AD (approximately), and of course the Neanderthals from the year 26,185 BC.
When I started reading, before I hit 25 pages, there was the part that made me love this story already. The Doctor and Rose needed to get into the hospital where they were holding Das, and the Doctor asked Jack for a distraction. Well, what does Jack do? A thing only Jack would do… He takes of all of his clothes and runs across the street. What a distraction indeed!
Furthermore, I loved the way this story portrayed the Neanderthals, and our ancestors too for that matter, as clever beings – not as the brainless, ape-like creatures most books, tv-shows and movies portray them. When Das found out he was stuck in the 21st century, he learned to cope very quickly. Of course, this is still all fiction, and we’ll probably never find out how they actually were, unless time travel gets invented (which I don’t think will happen, ever).
The people in the Osterberg project were all strange, brainless and I was really happy when I met Quilley, who was known as a ‘Refuser’, someone who refused to use the ‘poppers’, which I thought were drugs that made the Osterberg people so brainless. If they were feeling ‘wrong-feelings’, they would just type in a combination to make them feel happy again, or well, emotionless actually, because I don’t think happy was good either.. Hmm…
I liked Gareth Roberts’ writing, it was very easy, though sometimes he used some words that I found difficult, but of course that’s what Doctor Who is for. I’ve read one other story written by him, I Am A Dalek, which was enjoyable but in my opinion way too short (I really wanted that one to be a full novel). He has also written several episodes for the show, like ‘The Shakespeare Code’, ‘The Unicorn and the Wasp’, and ‘Closing Time’, which were all episodes I really liked. I am definitely going to check out more of his books!
There was only one thing I didn’t really like, sometimes while I was reading, I had no idea what I was actually reading. I had to re-read several parts before I finally understood what it said. Also, I just straight-up hated the main villain, Chantal. Because she turned those 100 people into brainless idiots, who wouldn’t even run away even though they were being attacked and eaten by Chantal’s creations.
In the end, I really liked Only Human, and seriously, I have started to ask myself if I will ever find a Doctor who novel that is really really bad..