Book: Doctor Who and The Blood Cell

"The Blood Cell"

An asteroid in the farthest reaches of space–the most secure prison for the most dangerous of criminals. The Governor is responsible for the cruellest murderers, so he’s not impressed by the arrival of the man they’re calling the most dangerous criminal in the quadrant. Or, as he prefers to be known, the Doctor.

But when the new prisoner immediately sets about trying to escape, and keeps trying, the Governor sets out to find out why. Who is the Doctor and what’s he really doing here? And who is the young woman who comes every day to visit him, only to be turned away by the guards?

When the killing finally starts, the Governor begins to get his answers…

I haven’t read many Doctor Who novel tie-ins, but the ones that I have read haven’t really been all that memorable. Still, I picked this book up because it was one that starred the Twelfth Doctor, the latest incarnation of our titular character. You see, I wasn’t really happy with the stories since he came into the picture, and I felt like this latest version of the Doctor was getting short-changed. I figured, if I still didn’t like him in book form–then maybe I just wasn’t interested in the Doctor anymore.

The thing is: I fell in love with the Doctor again while reading The Blood Cell.

Story-wise, The Blood Cell isn’t really anything special. It’s a space thriller with conspiracies and timey-wimey stuff. But it worked–because we weren’t seeing The Doctor through Clara’s eyes. It worked because we were getting a new perspective on the adventures of The Doctor and his companion–from someone who is just as flawed as they are.

Sure, the Governor bordered on annoying at times, but he never broke character. Not that there was a lot to begin with. He was the perfect reader surrogate; reacting when we’re supposed to react, and discovering the mystery of the prison along us.

But what I loved most about the book was how The Doctor was written. I could imagine Peter Capaldi saying the lines. And I loved that he didn’t have a lot of interactions with Clara, allowing him to have a personality that isn’t reliant on this particular companion. And there was a sense of suspense. Something that was missing in most of Series 8.

After putting the book down, that’s when it clicked for me: I wasn’t really tired of the Doctor after all. I was just tired of the epic adventures that he seem to be getting sucked into every episode. That’s why I loved Time Heist–when he just had to penetrate a bank and steal something. And the Flatliners, which, although it threatened the existence of the world as we knew it, also had a sense of smallness.

I’m tired of grandeur. Epic isn’t special when it happens all the time.

And until the television series learns to scale back on what’s big and what’s making a splash, I think I’ll pick up more books to balance out the program’s too-fast-too-furious take on Doctor Who.

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