The TARDIS takes the Doctor and Rose to a destination in deep space - Justicia, a prison camp stretched over seven planets, where Earth colonies deal with their criminals.


While Rose finds herself locked up in a teenage borstal, the Doctor is trapped in a scientific labour camp. Each is determined to find the other, and soon both Rose and the Doctor are risking life and limb to escape in their distinctive styles.


But their dangerous plans are complicated by some old enemies. Are these creatures fellow prisoners as they claim, or staging a takeover for their own sinister purposes?







MAY 2005






Like the other two ninth Doctor novels, this The Monsters Inside kicks off with a wonderful teaser – a pre-title sequence for the book, as it were – which sees Rose take her first steps out onto an alien world… or rather the Doctor shoves her! Within moments they are both arrested and you can all but hear the howl of the theme tune kicking in as if this were a televised episode. An episode where they can afford to realise an alien planet, in any event...


And that is exactly what you get; nothing more, nothing less. One could even be forgiven for mistaking The Monsters Inside for a novelisation of a two-part story in the new series, were it not for its shying away from Russell T Davies’ apparent format in having the action take place away from our solar system. It seems that whilst budgets might still prove to be a restriction on television, rendering our heroes sadly solbound, in these tie-in novels the same restrictions do not apply.


The Monsters Inside is by far the darkest of the first batch of novels. Its very setting is one where darkness and despair are rife - poor Rose only has minutes on her first alien word, Justicia Alpha, before she is arrested and sent to a borstal that is right out of Bad Girls. During her stay we see her put though many ordeals and a lot of humiliation, but in the end she emerges all the stronger for it.


Furthermore, some of the imagery Cole creates is quite disturbing – several female inmates attacking Rose with sharpened cutlery, for example, trying to “scalp her”; and Rose casually stepping through a corpse’s rib cage both stick in the mind particularly.


The plot is typically new series’ though. During her stay in prison, Rose discovers that one of the wardens is a Raxacoricofallapatorian, whilst in the scientific labour camp for ‘aliens’ the Doctor is banged up in a cell with two of them! Not only that, these Raxacoricofallapatorians just happen to be members of the Slitheen family...


Much of the storyline revolves around the gravity experiments that the Blathereen (a rival Raxacoricofallapatorian family, who have taken over the humans running the prison colony) are doing, and much of the science is lost on me. It is probably for this reason that I enjoyed the parts of the story featuring Rose far more than those featuring the Doctor. Both characters are excellently written for, right in line with their television portrayals, but at the end of the day this story is ‘just another day at the office’ for the Doctor. While he is off playing scientist and wrapping his lonely warder, Ms Flowers (a lovely bit of characterisation by Cole, by the way), around his little finger, Rose is isolated and scared, locked-up and further away from home than she’s even been. And although the Doctor’s banter with his Slitheen cellmates is an absolute joy to read, Rose’s relationships with her inmates at the borstal is a lot more gritty and much more real.


This brings me to my next point, the Slitheen. As I began to realise that the Raxacoricofallapatorians were to be the principal villains, I kicked myself for not seeing the double-meaning in the title – The Monsters Inside - but I also felt a little disappointed. I have nothing against the Slitheen – in fact, I thought that the Aliens of London two-parter was a real cracker – but for some reason I expected to find fresh villains in the novels. I also had doubts about how well farting, lumbering babyfaced aliens with a nudity obsession chasing people through corridors would come across on the written page.


Fortunately though, most of the doubts that I had were put to rest early on. Cole takes the interesting route of making the Blathereen family the villains of the piece, and although the Slitheen are as selfish, cunning and clever as they were in Aliens of London, the author skilfully manipulates the reader into championing them! Having two Raxacoricofallapatorian families also gives the story a fresh and distinctive feel, the blood rivalry between them leading to some very interesting plot twists, particularly in the early going. The twists and turns as you are guessing who is Raxacoricofallapatorian and who is not, and then on top of that who is Slitheen and who is Blathereen, make the book very difficult to put down. The ending is particularly satisfying – there is a scene where you find yourself smiling at  the Slitheens’ cunning, and even wishing them well in their new ‘business’ endeavours!


The Monsters Inside has its weaknesses, though. I thought Rose and the Doctor were separated for too long; the plot seemed to get bogged down in the prison a little too much for my liking; and, as I mentioned earlier, there is a complicated science fiction plot behind things (no doubt a bonus in many people’s eyes) and I found myself having to read the same page twice in order to get my head around it. The positives, though, by far outweigh the negatives, and I would heartily recommend this book to anyone who enjoys the revived series, irrespective of their age.


Copyright © E.G. Wolverson 2006


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