While some readers and listeners of Jacqueline Raynor's earlier Doctor Who novels may have not been looking forward to her third entry in the new series (the second available on audio), I found The Last Dodo to exceed my expectations.
The novel is told in first- and third-person, and as the character used for the first-person viewpoints is played by the actress doing the reading, this goes beyond a mere reading and into a very enjoyable performance.
Ms. Rayner's didactic tendencies continue to show in this book, but by finally using a futuristic setting, instead of the past or the present, we're treated to some interesting worldbuilding in the process too.
The Last Dodo is not only an enjoyable adventure on its own, but it utilizes the audiobook medium in a way not seen in most Doctor Who books, thanks to the first-person passages. I recommend it.
Lost Souls is a radio dramatization, featuring the cast of Torchwood and set between its second season and their appearance in season four of Doctor Who. Written by Joseph Lidster, who's written for the show on television, Lost Souls is a Torchwood tie-in to the Large Hadron Collider's initialization day.
While the story takes advantage of the full cast, I'm not sure it took advantage of the audio medium. Some scenes, especially the introduction of the cast, seem like they would have played better on the television screen.
It also seemed like the LHC tie-in was played too much; it seemed like the audience was being fed more technical background than they would have for something that didn't exist in the real world.
Despite those, though, Lost Souls was still an enjoyable story. I would have rated it at 4/5 starts...
...except the promised "Torchwood All-Access Bonus Feature" (see the cover art) is missing from here, so I'm docking the score to reflect that. Caveat emptor.
Beautiful Chaos was an unexpected treat. A novel that's more about Donna and her grandfather Wilfred Mott (played on the show by the novel's narrator, Bernard Cribbins) than the plot, Bernard brings his character and the others brilliantly to life in audio form.
That's not to say there's not plot to be had--far from it. Beautiful Chaos is a story of intrigue and astrology, and a plot that couldn't have been foiled if it weren't for Wilfred.
For anybody who wants to see more of Donna, Wilfred, and the Doctor, Beautiful Chaos is a highly recommended listen.
Because this audiobook contains only the "bridging" sections of the novel--the individual short stories are sold separately--the audiobook doesn't flow as neatly as the original novel did. It's obvious where the novel originally broke to one of the short stories. While I appreciate that this gives us all of the material, unabridged, it's disappointing that there's no way to listen to the stories in context.
While the short stories stand well enough alone, the frame of the novel simply doesn't, leading to an abrupt listen at times.
Everyone Says Hello is a pretty good Torchwood story with an interesting presentation.
Burn Gorman does a good job bringing most of the characters to life; the exception being Captain Jack Harkness, who proved beyond Gorman; I'm not sure if it was just the accent, or something else. But he did a pretty good job bringing Dan Abnett's story to life otherwise.
This isn't Abnett's first Torchwood story, and he proved here again that he has a good grasp of the show's characters. The story fell victim to the same tendency towards the grandiose that some of the more recent Torchwood stories on-screen have, but as long as the story is well-executed that's not a problem. And I certainly think that the story was well-executed.
While a new Torchwood novel would've been my preference over a new audiobook, I still enjoyed Everyone Says Hello. And that's good enough for me.
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