Review: The American Adventures
Released by BBC Books on 6 October 2016
Genres: Science Fiction
Source: Netgalley, Received
Travel through time and space with the Twelfth Doctor in these six brand new adventures, set in a host of locations across the US and eras from throughout US history.
An invisible spacecraft turns up at the Battle of New Orleans, an alien presence is detected at the 1944 D-Day landings, and ghosts take over New York's subway tunnels as they're being dug in the early 1900s...
Filled with mystery, excitement and the Doctor's trademark wit, these timeywimey stories will delight any Doctor Who fan.
A while back I was browsing Netgalley and my eyes fell upon a Doctor Who book. For some reason (and apparently I wasn’t the only one) I thought it was a graphic novel, so I immediately clicked ‘Read Now’, and then let it sit on my tablet for a while. But when I saw there was a limited time left to read the book, I decided to pick it up between the physical books I was reading.
I was only slightly disappointed when I realised it wasn’t a graphic novel, but still rather excited because it was still Doctor Who. The American Adventures is a collection of short stories, all taking place in – you’ve guessed it – America. The Doctor finds himself in various places in the USA in various points in history, and of course, there is trouble. I’m going to review and rate the individual stories below.
All that Glitters – 2 stars
The collection starts off with a story about a man looking for gold in Colorado when he finds a strange metal object in the water. Other than that, nothing much happens. The Doctor didn’t show up until halfway through the story (which was only 30 or so pages long, I should mention) and hardly did anything. The villain was really boring and the Doctor beat him in such an easy way, anyone could have done that.
Off the Trail – 2 stars
Story two featured a family of three, who get swept away by a storm onto a spaceship. There, they meet the Doctor who explains to them what’s going on and takes them back home so quickly, I should nickname him Quicksilver. No seriously, again this story was so rushed, and the main villain – or rather their spidery minions – was so easily defeated, ugh.
Ghosts of New York – 3 stars
I have the feeling I’ve seen this story before but as an episode. I just can’t remember which one (It’s been a while since I’ve seen any DW episodes). Still, this was the first story in the collection that I kind of enjoyed. We actually saw the Doctor when he decided to get involved in the mystery, instead of him just showing up. I would have loved to see this story as a full-length novel though, or at least a longer version of this 30-page one because it still felt too rushed and too easily solved.
Taking the Plunge – 3 stars
This story took place in 2017 and in a Theme Park, which I really liked. We had the Doctor’s POV all throughout this story, which I liked even more. This would have made an awesome TV episode, in my opinion, and I think if they’d added a companion it would have been even cooler. That’s what I really missed about these stories, Clara – or just a companion in general. Maybe they could have even added Bill, Twelve’s new companion.
Spectator Sport – 2,5 stars
And then we’re back in history again, during the Battle of New Orleans. The Doctor stumbles upon a spaceship full of spectators, flown in to watch this battle. I kind of agreed with the Doctor that it was ridiculous, but again – we watch movies about World War I and II, and other horrible events as well. So yeah, kind of conflicted on that. The main villain of the story was rather boring, in my opinion, but I did like the way the Doctor beat him. Still, much better suited as a TV episode or a full story.
Base of Operations – 2,5 stars
And the last story brings us to a military base in 1944. There is something fishy going on there, and for a moment I was afraid it might have been Raxacoricofallapatorians (whom I hate so so much). There was a bit of a companion in this story, at least more so than the other five stories, and I liked that. It felt more Who-y. Still, the main villain was a bit uncool but I did like the way the story was resolved. View Spoiler »Though it felt rather similar to The Sontaran Stratagem/The Poison Sky ending. With fewer people dying, fortunately. « Hide Spoiler
So yes, I enjoyed some of these stories, but I really just didn’t love them at all. They all felt way too short, and some just felt too rushed in my opinion. Sure you can tell a good story in 30 pages, but you can also make it too easy. These stories would have all been so much better had they been maybe 20 pages longer. Or full-length novels, which I think Twelve needs more of.
I was also rather confused, because according to Goodreads, there is only one author, Justin Richards, while Netgalley tells me there are various authors. It did felt like the latter because none of the stories really felt like they came from one author, but I guess if Goodreads says so it’s true. Anyway, I do have the feeling these stories may be more entertaining to young children rather than someone my age.
In the end, I thought The American Adventures was an entertaining book, but it didn’t manage to convince me at all. Half of the stories were too easily solved, and most of them felt way too rushed. Again, I do recommend this for younger Whovians, maybe as bedtime stories?
My opinion in one gif: