Doctor Who: The Legends of River Song by Jenny T Colgan, Jacqueline Rayner, Steve Lyons, Guy Adams and Andrew Lane
|Doctor Who: The Legends of River Song by Jenny T Colgan, Jacqueline Rayner, Steve Lyons, Guy Adams and Andrew Lane|
|Category: Science Fiction|
|Reviewer: John Lloyd|
|Summary: Five stories from River Song's complicated life, that sat awkwardly with me and will sit equally awkwardly in the marketplace.|
|Buy? Maybe||Borrow? Maybe|
|Pages: 224||Date: June 2016|
|Publisher: BBC Books|
|External links: Author's website|
Hello, sweetie. And with those words we know where we are – in the company of River Song, one of modern TV's more infuriating characters. Now she's likeable enough, it was just the timey wimey stuff she was lumbered with that made her hard to live with. I would say this was a return to her side, but have we had that pleasure yet – isn't it in our future, which is her past, and vice versa at the same, er, time? Either way, five tales here bring a selection of her escapades to a YA audience. The results can be bordering on the written Who as seen elsewhere, but can certainly frustrate as usual.
One aspect of the book that can annoy is the lack of character for The Doctor. The first story, a Westworld/Jurassic Park sort of tale, doesn't really give the passing reader any clue which generation it is. The relationship is strong enough for us to see what is going on – Give him one of your looks he advises her, when they have to disable a giant robotic dragon – but this certainly is a book that's high on River and low on her husband-ish character. Mind, if you didn't know that she killed him, by the end of it you will.
Another aspect I found a little off for the target audience here is the caginess it needs to have about the type of woman she is. She's highly sexualised, and it's with a sort of fnarr-fnarr in her voice she pulls back from telling us exactly what she's been doing once a decade or so with an Auton Elvis in the second story. The piece doesn't much improve, as it is definitely stretched, tells us what the baddy is doing twice in three pages, and forces itself to give River not quite enough to do. Beyond that we get a very annoying timey-wimey mess, where you can read it and read it and not find out cause and effect; a drama that leaves the Doctor out entirely (and manages to be about Venice – of a kind – without mentioning her vampires); and a final slice of fiction that is really rich in Whovian lore, and probably the best work here for it, but again light on story – River works the situation out, presses things, the end.
On the whole, the book suffers from being a lot more blunt than the character as I remembered her on TV – the River we met in a certain library is long gone. It reads, by being her first person journal, as far too ribald – she comes across as a kind of female Captain Jack, and I quickly tired of all the species being homosexual, multi-sexual, needing three parents of different sexual elements to breed, and so on. I don't think the book can have its flippant take on the universe and attain the young teen audience it seems to gear itself towards. But more importantly I don’t think, even with the quality of creator behind the material here, that it stands up as nearly good enough.
I must thank the publishers for my review copy.
A much richer and more purposeful collection from this stable is Doctor Who: Time Lord Fairy Tales by Justin Richards and David Wardle.
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You can read more book reviews or buy Doctor Who: The Legends of River Song by Jenny T Colgan, Jacqueline Rayner, Steve Lyons, Guy Adams and Andrew Lane at Amazon.com.
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