The Diary of a Dr Who Addict by Paul Magrs
|The Diary of a Dr Who Addict by Paul Magrs|
|Reviewer: John Lloyd|
|Summary: A disappointing piece of non-Whovian time travel, with a lot for people who've been there and lived through it all, but not for the Doctor's current fans.|
|Buy? Maybe||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 256||Date: March 2010|
|Publisher: Simon & Schuster Children's Books|
I've followed Paul Magrs' career for a long time. True, I didn't like one of his several adult books I read way back when, but he's well into a second (or even a third) career with his teen fiction, and Doctor Who novels. It's a transition that always catches my eye. I'm on my second "career" in books too - going from just reading, to reviewing. I've also grown up so much I can actually pronounce the poor man's surname. Growing up, Doctor Who (obviously), life with books and writing, and identity, are all strong themes for this title.
Davey, in his first term at secondary school, is horrified. Not only is his best friend trying to grow up through the use of a home gym, and standing him up on the first morning of term, he also seems to be becoming dismissive of The Show. Still, he is trying to be esoteric - just like his sister, painting her face to look like Bowie album sleeves of all things - and Davey knows better. He knows everyone should be enthralled with the spectacle of Tom Baker falling off a building and becoming Peter Davison.
Yes, we're in the 1980s, and the youth of Davey is perfectly realised. Just witness his socks, whether sucking themselves down his feet inside his wellies so his heels end up naked (so it's not just me), or they're having his name sewn into them by his mum - just in case he takes them off in Home Ec, or something.
Unfortunately the perfect details are scuppered by a distinctively sparse plot. His new dad's mom, recently moved in, skips house one night and needs seeking. His school friends try and write a novel (been there, done that) and his own night-time scribblings, hidden from his insomniac mother, are awful.
However I don't think they're a million miles from what we get here. Yes the reminiscences of the birth of VHS (heralded so obviously by the C90 audio tapes Davey makes religiously of The Show) and so much else are perfect for those of mine and Magrs' generation, but combined with the gentle plotting (he grows up - wow!) strike me as perfectly alien to the current crop of teens, and a little self-indulgent.
The problem is, this seems highly autobiographical. The northeast England upbringing is shared with Magrs, ditto hints of homosexuality which are in common with the author. And as many Dr Who people will be able to tell you, they both combine over The Show. And when we close with someone a couple of years older than Davey - yet somehow also in the 6th form - offering Davey/Paul some acceptance of what seems to be his future, as regards sexual outlook, writing tastes, and in life, we see this as a bit of a closely personal and meaningful book for Magrs, that I would have thought needed to be looked at more closely to make it right for its Target (pun intended) audience.
It's also sacrilege for a Whovian to say the Daleks were in the first story, when they weren't, and my quick check proved Davison's full arrival in Castrovalva was on on a Monday night, not Tuesday.
The message is strong and laudable - no, you can't regenerate, it's just puberty and you will get through it - but the medium is more suited to those of my age, looking archly back on what the current Doctor Who viewers will not recognise outside of other, better period pieces. A case of time travel such as we don't expect next to the good Doctor's name.
I must thank the kind people at Simon and Schuster for my review copy.
Oh, and by the way, it's Mars and not Maggers.
More genre action from other Doctor Who writers can be found in Wipe Out (Time Runners) by Justin Richards.
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