Review: Doctor Who: The Drosten’s Curse by A.L. Kennedy

Doctor Who: The Drosten’s Curse

by A. L. Kennedy

Science Fiction | 368 Pages | Published by Broadway Books in 2015

| Rating |

three star

I received this book from Blogging for Books in return for an honest review

I had never read a Doctor Who novel before, nor had I wanted to – not a great start I admit. Despite having something of a love for the subject, I couldn’t quite imagine the books being any good, and being thoroughly disappointed by something you love isn’t always the best way to pursue a relationship. However, my expectations firmly set at zero, I reasoned that it could not fail to exceed them. And thankfully I was right! The Drosten’s Curse balances wit and humour with Lovecraftian undertones in what turned out to be a rather enjoyable read.

It’s 1978 in Arbroath, Scotland, and something is amiss at the Fetch Brothers Golf Spa Hotel. Bryony Mailer is stuck in a job she doesn’t care for, with a boss she likes even less, and her biscuits are going missing. Oh… and the golf bunkers are eating the patrons. With the help of the Doctor (Time Lord – Charming – Devilishly Handsome) and Putta Pattershaun 5 (Alien – Bounty Hunter – Incredibly Clumsy), Bryony must contend with octopode obsessive OAPs and sinister Blytonesque children to find a way to quiet the ancient evil which has begun to stir in the backwaters of Arbroath. Their lives, human existence and a whole wardrobe of plus fours may be at stake.

Thrown directly into the action, The Drosten’s Curse reads like an episode straight from the screen. The story chops and changes between scenes and characters, building up the tension to create a rather cinematic experience I’ve infrequently encountered in books. Kennedy has a very fluid and humorous style of writing which, though light hearted, carried the momentum throughout the majority of the novel. The story did start to drag about three quarters of the way in but Kennedy’s witty repartee kept me turning the pages until the end.

Every character is written with a good dose of humour, which worked particularly well for those fleeting characters who only appear in the action. The fourth Doctor (as played by Tom Baker) is excellently portrayed, his offbeat and zany personality captured almost perfectly.  However, the Doctor plays almost a side role to Bryony and Putta who, though likeable, needed a little something more. I didn’t really feel invested in them or whether they survived their encounters with the species that shall remain nameless, even if I did care about the general outcome of the story. Perhaps for entertainment value, these characters needed to remain somewhat blank, albeit humorous, canvases.

This book should appeal to old and new fans alike; the Doctor is, after all, magnificent. If you’re looking for an easy read, one which flows with wit and humour, and doesn’t take itself too seriously – much like an episode of Doctor Who – then The Drosten’s Curse might just be what you’re looking for. A.L. Kennedy’s writing shone throughout and certainly has me on the lookout for more of her work. Not for the first time, I was very happy for my expectations to be proven wrong.

Bookish Beats Suggestion

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Review: Armada by Ernest Cline


by Ernest Cline

Science Fiction | 355 Pages | Published by Crown in 2015

| Rating |

three point five

I received this book from Blogging for Books in return for an honest review

I admit it, I’ve never read Ready Player One. In fact I’d never so much as heard of Ernest Cline *gasp* before Armada hit the shelves. So, when I received a copy of this book for review, I really didn’t know what to expect. Oh it sounded good, nay, awesome! – Science fiction you say? And it has aliens? And rock music?! And it pretty much revolves around video games?!! Well if you hadn’t already sent me the book, take my money! Open. Read. Done! This book left me excited, it left me wanting more… but it also left me a teensy bit disappointed.

Armada follows the story of Zack Lightman, a teen from a small town with a penchant for referencing as many brilliant things as possible. But Zack is an addict and spends all his free time playing Armada, an alien combat based flight sim.

Night-time raids were going along swimmingly until an alien ship straight out of the game comes crashing down into the school grounds. Concerned for his mental health, Zack escapes the classroom and vows to take a break from gaming (which lasts all of about ten minutes).

But when an Earth Defence League ship lands in the school car park, Zack discovers there’s more to this universe than he ever imagined. He soon finds himself immersed in a world of conspiracy theories and government secrets, with a fleet of alien drones to boot. The fate of humanity is resting on your shoulders, gamers. What could possibly go wrong?

| The Good |

Armada is so much fun. It sucks you in and bombards you with geek reference overload. Cline doesn’t shy away from using them as metaphors, for dialogue, for plot twists… for just about anything really. And it works! If you are a fan of video games and sci fi books and movies, then it’s quite likely Armada will float your boat. If you were that kid at school, daydreaming, staring out of the window and waiting for Gandalf to knock his staff against the glass or for say…. a spaceship to land right in the school grounds, then look no further.

Zack is a great protaganist, full of teen angst but balanced out by his ready humour (and brilliant taste in everything… except Lucky Charms). His motivations are well developed and his narrative is snappy, carrying you along straight to the conclusion. Armada is also incredibly easy to relate to – the world is ours, the references are ours and if you like to daydream you may have even pictured this whole scenario. Armada really is pure entertainment, but…

| The (not really) Bad |

I did feel a little disappointed in places. There is nothing truly ‘bad’ about this book but there are parts which could have been tighter and which could have done with some development and fleshing out. The plot really succeeds when it gets to the action but I would imagine those who either tire of or don’t ‘get’ the references getting a bit bored during the former part of the book.

The cast of characters provide a great backdrop for Zack to interact with but, despite their little quirks, somehow fell a little flat. By the end of the book I honestly didn’t care about half of them. Cannon fodder. Though the writing style is snappy and to the point, I would have preferred a little more depth. Everyone is just sucked into the action with little to no resistance – cardboard people sucked into a vacuum – which made it fall a little short of what I would expect for a 4 star book. But, despite my misgivings and occasional nitpicking, I was still really enjoying it…

| The Ugly |

And then the ending happened. Hmmmmmm… goodbye half a heart shaped star. I really did enjoy most of this book but the ending was a let down and the plot develops in, what seemed to me, a highly unnecessary way. It all just seemed like a bit of a cliché, like something I would see a the end of an ‘ok’ sci fi movie and yes, it was a little bit cheesy. But we can’t have it all.

Having said all that, Armada is a very easy and absorbing read. It’s full of wit and humour, it doesn’t take itself too seriously and provides entertainment by the spadeful. If you’re looking for mind blowing science fiction, this isn’t it. But if you’re looking for something entertaining, something that will make you laugh and which is littered with science fiction goodies, then Armada could be the book for youIt certainly hasn’t put me off getting my hands on Ready Player One.

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Bookish Beats: The Machine OST

Bookish BeatsMusic, much like literature, has the power to drive your imagination; it can lift the soul and create real emotion.This is Bookish Beats, a feature which will showcase some of the soundtracks which have enriched the worlds I’ve found between the pages. 


The Machine (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)

Composed by Tom Raybould

Listen to with:

A tense science fiction thriller

Such as:

Inquisitor by Mitchell Hogan

I love reading to music and can read to just about anything as long as it ‘goes’ with the book. I listen to instrumentals, to classical music, to game and film soundtracks, to rock and metal, to blues and jazz, to new age music and folk music – the list goes on! Finding the right music for the right book can make your reading experience all the more intense and engaging.

This week’s Bookish Beats features my current favourite soundtrack for an action packed sci-fi novel. The Machine is a science fiction thriller which came out in 2013, a film I just so happen to love. I last listened to The Machine OST whilst reading Inquisitor by Mitchell Hogan, and the combination of slow building pieces and fast action tracks made it a perfect complement to what turned out to be a fantastic book.

This soundtrack is subtle. It doesn’t intrude on your thoughts and it doesn’t come out all guns blazing, it’s as though it were made for reading. After pressing play I could feel the knot of tension building inside me; if you are reading something tense, then this soundtrack will put you on edge. The Machine OST really did take me into Mitchell Hogan’s world and once there, I didn’t want to come up for air. So if you’re looking for a soundtrack to your sci-fi thriller, give The Machine OST a try. I certainly wasn’t disappointed.

Favourite track

01 – Birth

Top track for action

18 – The Machine Fights

Top track for tension

06 – Arms

Top track for emotion

19 – The End


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