|Mass market paperback, 281 pages|
Acquired and read December 2016
by Martin Day
My tradition for the last six years has been to read a Doctor Who book set at Christmas around Christmastime... the last three years have seen me scraping the bottom of the barrel, with Nightshade and K9 and Company, two books set at Christmastime, but otherwise no real Christmassy content. The Sleep of Reason's connection to the season is even more tenuous, as there are just a few chapters set on 24 and 25 December 1903.
The book starts out great: it's set in a psychiatric hospital, with parallel narratives in 1903 and 2003, and there's a very compellingly and disturbingly written history of a teenage girl practicing self-harm. Not the kind of thing you'd see in a Doctor Who novel post-"Rose," and not the kind of thing I associate with Christmas, but it sets the stage. The Doctor is suitably mysterious in this one, with lots of good lines. Things are set up well, with mysterious goings on at the hospital in both time zones...
...and set up is basically all that ever happens. On page 203 out of 281, the Doctor finally figures out what's going on... and then we're told that he, "far from proposing any plan of action, stated that he was still at the information-gathering stage." C'mon, Martin Day, kick this plot into gear sometime! As you might guess, things wrap up a bit too easily, and plus it turns out that everything's the fault of that overused Doctor Who standby, aliens who feed on negative emotion. A promising beginning, and some good touches here and there, and a nice companion-of-the-month, but a disappointing novel on the whole.
Thankfully, Penguin released a book of Christmas-themed Doctor Who short stories this year, so next year's read-- probably the last-- will be one with a direct connection to the season.
Next Week: Less a volume 3 and more a volume 0... or maybe even a volume i, since it's all pretty tangential to the main event. Still, it's more The Transformers: All Hail Megatron!