Target: The Day of the Doctor review

Steven Moffat’s contribution to the first set of new series Doctor Who Target novelisations is his anniversary special, The Day of the Doctor. This is far more than an adaptation of the script, it is a telling of events from many angles and plays with the form of the novel. If you’re a hard-core Moffat fan you will love this, if you have problems with his work on the show this won’t ameliorate your feelings. I thought it was a decent piece of work with some bits I didn’t care for, but did give credit for the fact he’d bothered to put in more work than he had to in putting this together. Like Douglas Adams though, he does fiddle with things.

The Day of the Doctor the Target novelisation

The book has an eccentric chapter structure, for example Chapter Eight comes early; just as well as it is a retelling of the minisode Night of the Doctor. It’s nice to see Paul McGann’s work in print, and still raises the question of why his Doctor wasn’t used if Christopher Eccleston didn’t want to play? Heigh, ho.

Between chapters Steven Moffat talks through whichever wall it is for a book, and addresses the reader. At times playful, it can come across as condescending, more so if that’s how you want to treat it. As to the main text, the Moment is downplayed compared to the TV, and River Song sneaks in for a few chapters. Could she have played in the TV? Perhaps, but only by diluting the Doctor I suspect. What is fascinating is the way various incarnations look at others and find fault, particularly with dress sense. This does go on a bit, and makes you almost wonder how much Steven himself can find the Doctor irritating. Enough pop-psychology.

Where I found this strong is best told through the medium of the prisoners in the Tower of London chapter. Events are told three times, allowing each incarnation to give his point of view on the others, on events and on being the Doctor. It should seem repetitive, but isn’t.

Where I most struggled is in the destruction / salvation of Gallifrey. If twelve Doctors were a big moment for a few seconds, the novel takes this to the nth degree. Too much for me.

The part most likely to upset fans is Chapter Nine. I need to reread, but it touches on the UNIT dating paradox, Susan’s name, The Doctor’s part-human heritage, why did the TARDIS explode in the Pandorica and more besides. This will be too much for many fans, who will no doubt accuse the author of going too far. Perhaps he doesn’t go far enough? I need to reread Chapter Nine (the specifics escape me at present).

Have you read it? What did you think? Let me know!

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