It is almost Christmas and here’s a suggestion for the last minute gift shopper.  Juno Dawson’s The Good Doctor on sale now.   Here’s our review of the novel.

What happens to a planet after the Doctor has saved the day?  Does everything become peaceful happy and joyful?  In the first book of the new BBC Books Thirteenth Doctor series, Juno Dawson lets us see into the future.

The Good Doctor – By Juno Dawson

On the planet of Lobos, the Doctor halts a violent war between the native Loba and human colonists.  The TARDIS crew departs – only for Ryan to discover he’s left his phone behind. AGAIN!

Upon returning, the Doctor finds that the TARDIS has slipped hundreds of years into the future – and something has gone badly wrong.  The Loba are now slaves, serving human zealots who worship a figure known as The Good Doctor.

It’s time for the Doctor to face up the consequences of her last visit.  With Lobos on the brink of catastrophe, will she be able to make things right?

A Careless Word and An Old Photograph

A careless word and an old photograph are all it takes to undo all the good Team TARDIS did on their last visit to Lobos.  The planet’s native population, the dog-people called Loba, are at war with the new human colonists who they see have overrun and overtaken all.  Lobos for Loba becomes a rallying cry.  The Doctor, with the help of the son of the Loba General and his new human bride, help both sides see eye to eye and form a peace.  One that the Doctor hopes they will build on.  But upon their return several hundred years later, the Doctor finds that Graham’s parting words – “Dogs are a Man’s Best Friend” has been used as a new truth for humans to enslave the Loba.

The Doctor’s voice is muted by the one image that remains of the “man” that saved Lobos – a photo of Graham – The Good Doctor returned.  To make matters worse, women are blamed for “the fall, the great plague” and are banned from the Temple of TORDOS.  A woman’s words are considered to be false, and females are responsible for spread disease.   It makes it very difficult for a woman who relies on words to be heard.

The Real Doctor and Her Companions

Dawson, as with the other writers of the first books of the Thirteenth Doctor series, would not have had much to go on when she wrote her novel.  The series has not been released, and the new Doctor and companions would have been an unknown factor.  But in many ways, this has been an advantage rather than a problem for her Doctor.  Dawson has written the Doctor a bit closer to her predecessors than the television characterisation.  And while I still hear Jodie Whittaker’s voice when I read the Doctor’s words, she’s a stronger more confident character than we’ve seen on the screen.   She jumps into the adventure and commands the stage, all with the bravado and vanity of her previous regenerations.  She certainly hit what I had first imagined for Whittaker’s Doctor.

For the three companions, the story mainly focuses on adventure rather than characterisation. But having said that I did love the Pointless reference from Graham and the nods to Grace’s demise.  Dawson was also able to capture the companionship between Yaz and Ryan as they worked to resolve the culture they had a hand in creating.  The author wisely used the tried and true plot device of splitting Team TARDIS across both sides of the Lobos conflict.  The separated team forms alliances across both sides of the civil war.

Finally, the novel addresses the change in the Doctor Who head on.  Dawson is an international bestselling author of several young adult books and a columnist for Glamour UK, Attitude Magazine and an LGBTQ activist with Stonewall, so you can expect that the change in the Doctor’s gender and her treatment by others to feature in the story. But the sexism that the Doctor encounters is part of the story and is used effectively as a plot device to impede and slow down her ability to restore Lobos to its history and culture.

In short, Dawson has written an excellent novel for the first outing of the Thirteenth Doctor novelisation.  Certainly, a great last-minute gift for your Doctor Who fan.



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