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The Deviant Strain by Justin Richards
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A soviet era nuclear naval base has been abandoned. The town surrounding it is surviving essentially at a subsistence level. There is something far more dangerous than the radiation leaking from the subs. It's been there quite a long time sending out a message for help, which Captain Jack inadvertently answers forcing him, Rose and the Doctor to ride in for the rescue. Though their Russian is perfect, at least one person knows that there's more to the arrival of the threesome than their cover story implies.

I love Doctor Who with a ridiculous passion but that being said, this book left so much to be desired. Because Eccleston was only the Doctor for a short time, these stories are precious. After all, who doesn't want a bit more of the Fantastic? Unfortunately, this book is almost painful to read. It's a scant 256 pages and yet felt like a tome that was never going to come to an end. This is the first of the Doctor Who books that I almost gave a DNF rating.

When the Doctor, Rose and Captain Jack arrive, they discover one young man dead and his girlfriend Valeria drained of her youth. She is nothing but a husk, with no ability to communicate and absolutely incapable of taking care of herself. Because this is not the first time something like this has happened, townspeople have become suspicious and actually blame Vourdalk - a vampire from Russian folklore. That sounds interesting doesn't it? Naturally, it cannot possibly be Vourdalk as we discover when the Doctor begins investigating. Nope, it's all about aliens, glowing blue blobs and zombies. It seems some people decided that they want to live forever. The story takes a massive turn and feels like a bad rip off of Stephen King's Tommy Knockers. Since King already told this story and brilliantly at that, inserting the Doctor does nothing but remind us that we're reading an author with less than half the talent of King.

The story quickly turns from an intelligent investigation to the Doctor, Rose and Jack running from the blue blobs, and setting shit on fire. That's when it absolutely lost me because it felt like a complete bait and switch. Yes, I get that as much as the Doctor is a super brilliant Time Lord, he spends a good deal of time running and dodging to get away from the bed guys but that usually comes with a coherent story which The Deviant Strain greatly lacked.

In terms of characterisation it was absolutely off. Yes, I can picture Captain Jack running into combat and working to save someone he saw as vulnerable and need of his help. My question however is where did my smiling, flirtatious Jack go? He was absolutely generic. Even though The Deviant Strain is set before Torchwood, there should still be some sense of who Captain Jack is. This character is such a cardboard cut out with no personality that he really could have been anyone with the name Captain Jack tacked on for fan service.

Then there's Rose, who runs around tossing herself at anything that looks dangerous. She's like a fish out of water. I didn't recognise her at all. She seemed to be there so that the Doctor could explain what is going on. Yes, I realise that this is the main function of the companion in the Who universe, however; each companion has a personality that is distinct. Rose just ran and threw herself at stuff without trying to figure out the big picture or even giving the Doctor a sense of humanity which is something that she was really good at.

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  FangsfortheFantasy | Mar 1, 2016 |
Captain Jack accidentally answers a distress call in the TARDIS and he, the Doctor, and Rose find themselves in a Russian town where aliens cause people to age prematurely. This is one of the better story-lines in a Who-novel, but the characters aren't acting entirely true and the reader does the characters' accents so poorly that it repeatedly takes the reader out of the story. Having the Doctor speak upper class English makes him sound pretentious and that doesn't exactly make him likable. Great story, but stay away from the audio and stick to paper. ( )
  -Eva- | Apr 3, 2015 |
It wasn't my favorite Doctor Who book, but it's still Doctor Who so ... Aside from that, the plot was just okay. The whole Russian thing isn't really anything I'm interested in though. ( )
  Rainviolet | Jan 10, 2014 |
What a fast-paced read! Set at a Russian research institute alongside derelict nuclear subs and a village of people just barely eking out a living (a "village of the damned" so to speak), the 9th Doctor, Rose, and Jack Harkness respond to an alien distress signal. And what they find is worthy of a horror movie. (Less blood, but more chilling.)

I enjoyed reading an adventure with Rose AND Captain Jack present. Sometimes the dialogue seemed almost too light for their situations, but that's typical of Doctor Who. The story is well-thought out with some cool twists, lots of running, and a solution that is suitably last-second ingenious and last-second. The death toll is pretty high, with a bittersweet touch at the end...because you can't save everyone. ( )
  Starsister12 | Dec 15, 2013 |
This is one of the more complex Doctor Who books I've read or heard, with a plot that makes sense, a real sense that the characters are in danger, and some obvious and some not-so-obvious plot twists. I have low expectations for tv tie-in novels as a rule, but this one surpasses them easily.

The only down side of this audiobook is the reader. Milligan would be a fine reader for a regular novel but should avoid tie-ins like this. It's unusual enough to have an American narrate a Doctor Who book, but while Stuart Milligan does a passable Jack, his accents for the Doctor and Rose are generic "American trying to sound British" accents, which sounds nothing like the characters on show and was very distracting. ( )
  bluesalamanders | Nov 25, 2011 |
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For Jac & Steve -- fellow travelers
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The day he died was the best of Pavel's life.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0563486376, Hardcover)

The Novrosk Peninsula, the Soviet naval base, has been abandoned, and the nuclear submarines are rusting and rotting. Cold, isolated, forgotten until the Russian Special Forces arrive - and discover that the Doctor and his companions are here too. But there is something else in Novrosk. Something that predates everything else, even the stone circle on the cliff top. Something that is at last waking, hunting, killing... Can the Doctor and his friends stay alive long enough to learn the truth? With time running out, they must discover who is really responsible for the Deviant Strain...

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:11:28 -0400)

The Doctor and Rose find themselves in an abandoned Soviet nuclear naval base only to discover that it is not quite as abandoned as it seems, although its new inhabitant is not exactly human and not exactly friendly.

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