Tip of the Tongue by Patrick Ness reviewed

Patrick Ness - Tip of the TongueThe May eshort story, 50th anniversary release from Puffin is Tip of the Tongue from Patrick Ness who writes for young adults as well as adults. I had no knowledge of Patrick Ness nor of his writing so had no preconceptions when I downloaded this latest story. All I knew was that it would feature the Fifth Doctor.

I read the story on my regular commute – did the time fly or was it a drag? The answer is on the tip of my…

The Story

The plot is straightforward:

In 1945, a strange new craze for Truth Tellers is sweeping the kids of small-town America. The Fifth Doctor and Nyssa soon arrive to investigate the phenomenon, only to discover that the actual truth behind the Truth Tellers is far more sinister than anyone could have imagined…

This is the story of small-town America during World War II and a strange, clearly alien creatures the Truth Tellers. These creatures are worn by the in-crowd and relentless spout the truth to all and sundry. As might be imagined this can be devastating and it is clear that something malicious is at work in the town of Temperance.

Jonny, an undersized boy of Jewish descent with a German surname, acquires a Truth Teller from Nettie, who is herself of mixed-race and also likes Jonny more than he likes her.

The story follows Jonny as he tries to summon up the courage to have his Truth Teller tell a girl named Marisa how he feels about her.

Against this backdrop an English man dressed in white and wearing celery arrives with an English woman in trousers no less! They proceed to explore the town of Temperance and eventually trace the source of the Truth Tellers to the Acklin family who run the local shop that sells the little aliens.

Jonny, meanwhile, has managed not to impress Marisa and all seems bleak when the Acklin’s house explodes in an unnatural fire, the Doctor and Nyssa round-up all the aliens and take them back to the future where they belong. The TARDIS leaves as we see Jonny and Nettie’s relationship being to show signs of becoming closer…

The Storytelling

I really liked this. For the first few pages I was struck by how different Doctor Who seems told in an American style then became absorbed in the story. Jonny was very credible and Patrick Ness treats his younger audience with respect.

I also like stories where the reader knows what is happening even when the hero doesn’t spot the obvious – in this case the feelings Nettie has for Jonny that he is oblivious to. I also like stories where the Doctor is in the background though wouldn’t want every story to be like that.

Patrick Ness also makes some nice additions to the canon with his Truth Tellers and other aliens and doesn’t need to get too mythic instead tells a good story that I found somewhat reminiscent of Ray Bradbury.

Final Thoughts

A good story and may even eclipse the excellent Roots of Evil.

What do you think? Not your kind of thing or a good story well told?

Let me know!

 

Tony

About Tony Jones

Freelance writer, blogger, philosopher and Doctor Who fan
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