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The Art of Destruction

Doctor Who: The BBC New Series Adventures #11
Lawrence Conquest

Now here is the first book of the ‘New Series’ range of novels that I was well and truly disappointed with. “The Art of Destruction,” by prolific Doctor Who novelist Stephen Cole, completely failed to grab my attention and in all honesty I struggled to finish it. This came as quite a shock to me because Cole’s last two novels, “The Feast of the Drowned” and “The Monsters Inside”, were both dark and thrilling adventures that I enjoyed tremendously. “The Art of Destruction” shares that darkness and sense of gritty realism with them, but falls short in so many other areas.

There wasn’t a single character in the book (other than our heroes) that I found even slightly compelling. Faltato read like he might have worked well on screen, but in print he loses much of the menace that comes from such a visual character. Good writers (like Cole!) can normally make such characters work in prose, but here his normally vivid descriptions do feel too over simplified; much more so than in any other of his novels. In fairness though, the Doctor and Rose are both captured superbly on the page by the author. The Doctor has a particularly strong outing, full of David Tennant’s now-trademark ‘gob’ and sarcasm.

Cole almost salvages things with a couple of good old fashioned monsters, Wurms and traditional Golems, but at the end of the day a book that I’m already rapidly forgetting as I write its review isn’t anything to get even remotely excited about. The only enduring memory I think I’ll have of “The Art of Destruction” is an amusing paragraph from page 156:

“Korr squirted a fluid into the Doctor’s face, so hard it knocked his glasses off his nose. The liquid was rank and salty, and it splashed over Basel’s face too, stung (stinging?) his eyes.”

Let’s hope Cole makes a return to form in the near future because sadly, “The Art of Destruction” is an unmitigated disaster.