Reviewed: The Christmas Invasion – Target Novelisation by Jenny Colgan

In what now seems like a very long time ago, Doctor Who came back to television where it rightly deserved to be. The excitement was palpable, the reaction was unprecedented, and the future was bright.

After a few years of the show being back at the front of public consciousness, fans started creating their own Doctor Who inspired artwork which, with a quick Google search, was readily available to view. Some drew inspirational pictures of the Time War, others concocted scenarios where various incarnations met. Then there were the ‘retros’ – designers who took the new iteration of Doctor Who and dressed it up in the classic branding. The Tenth Doctor adorned old style VHS designs, the Eleventh Doctor suddenly had Big Finish style covers, but some decided that what they really wanted to see was the ‘what if’ world, where the new series had Target novelisations.

It was fun but didn’t seem as if it would ever happen. The world had moved on and converting 45-minute stories to prose didn’t seem too relevant in a world where the public could consume new Who at any time they wanted.

But this year, as a wonderful nod to the past, Target books are finally back with five eagerly anticipated adventures turned into riveting reads for those of all ages to appreciate.

In this instance, The Christmas Invasion, the Tenth Doctor’s first full story and the first ever official Doctor Who Christmas special, has gone through the conversation process to take the leap from screen to book. Thanks to the wonderful writing talents of Jenny T Colgan, it’s a wonderful read with a few sparkling additions along the way.

The story here remains mainly the same; the Doctor has just regenerated after his confrontation with the Daleks and Rose doesn’t have the faintest idea what to do. He’s out of action and in the depths of unconsciousness at Jackie’s flat while an invasion of Earth by the vicious Sycorax is taking place.

For those more familiar with the television counterpart, the differences here are small but interesting. As the Doctor is asleep for most of the tale, Colgan decides to build on the characters around him, revealing their thoughts and feelings as the drama unfolds. Rose’s inner monologue dives into more of her despair as she tries to come to terms with the monumental change the Doctor has gone though. Jackie’s point of view is interesting here as well; whilst Rose is complaining that she’s stuck on Earth with no way of saving the day, Jackie rightly points out that she’s only been stuck for a very short amount of time, revealing just how cutting Rose can be without even thinking about it. We know that her friends and family missed her during her time saving the Universe but just how annoying would it be to have Rose complain about being home every time she comes back?

Colgan also adds depth to the third of the population being stuck on the roof thanks to blood control. The tension is increased by making the scale of the roof standees larger and even included a grisly scene of one non-controlled member of the public meeting a grisly end trying to help another. The Doctor also gets some extra dialogue once he wakes up, which perfectly fits in with his new character, especially in one new scene where he tries out different catchphrases.

Whilst the old Target novels can feel a little dated when set on Earth, as they are written in eras gone by, Colgan uses this aspect to remind us of how far we’ve come. Even though 2005 wasn’t an incredibly long time ago, little details help to remind the reader that it feels like it was. Micky’s use of the internet via fifty six K dial up modem gives one pause for thought at the changes to society and technology since Doctor Who relaunched in 2005. It also feels like a fun nod to the Target novels being a monument from the past, but still important today, much like the show they emulate. A lot of the older televised Doctor Who stories are, for now, lost forever. The Target stories of yesteryear would help readers and fans to plug the gaps in the Doctor’s adventures they may not have been able to see. There’s not a need for that this time round, thanks to the accessibility of television in the 21st Century (and the BBC not trying to delete everything they’ve made to reuse camera film in a short-sighted cost cutting measure) but it sure is nice to have these stories as part of the Target family. What started as a fan inspired idea has made the leap to actuality. Much like how Doctor Who came back in 2005.

Overall, The Christmas Invasion is wonderful read that you’ll get through in an afternoon. The story may remain the same but it’s the subtle additions of dialogue and character development that will keep you intrigued to the end.

The Christmas Invasion – Target Novelisation by Jenny T. Colgan is out now, priced £4.98.