Doctor Who is an iconic British television show, so having “The American Adventures” is reminiscent of the debate about whether or not he should regenerate into a female Doctor for the sake of equality. It begs the question: why? Surely it’s better to get your own, unique character instead of hijacking an established one.
That said, the Doctor and his companions have visited America on several occasions and this young adult reader simply expands on those adventures under the current twelfth Doctor, played by Peter Capaldi on television.
In each of these six short stories, written by various authors, the Doctor is travelling alone. He is between companions and trekking primarily through US history in a series of quick adventures.
The book begins with All that Glitters about alien possession in California in 1849 followed by a Twilight Zone-esque tale set in 1846 when a wagon caravan across the Oregon Trail is interrupted for one family who is kidnapped by aliens. The Ghosts of New York jumps to 1902 when miners building the New York subway are spooked by supernatural spectres then, in 2017, the Doctor discovers a ride in an amusement park is draining the life force out of people. Back in 1815, the Doctor finds himself in the midst of a murder investigation during the 1815 Battle of New Orleans, only to have to battle a sly alien invasion himself in 1944.
Released by BBC Children’s Books, Doctor Who: The American Adventures, is light reading for adults but exciting for its target audience. The stories are fast and adventurous without getting into the technological or emotional intricacies of the television series. They’re resolved relatively simply with the Doctor offering some kind of learning in each. It’s an easy read, with those who follow the television series easily grasping the concept of the sonic screwdriver and other common plot devices.
Reviewed by Rod Lewis
Rating out of 10: 7
Distributed by: Penguin Australia
Release Date: October 2016
RRP: $24.99 hardback