Doctor Who
I Am a Dalek

Author: Gareth Roberts
BBC Books
RRP: 2.99
ISBN 0 563 48648 1
Available 18 May 2006

The TARDIS lands in a picture-postcard sort of village where nothing much ever happens... until now. Archaeologists have dug up a Roman mosaic, dating from around 70 AD, depicting mythical scenes, bunches of grapes - and a Dalek. A few days later, a young woman is hit by a car and killed. Then she comes back to life. It's not long before all hell breaks loose...

This book is part of the Quick Reads selection of short and fast-paced titles aimed at emergent readers and adult literacy learners. At just over 100 pages, with type that is even bigger than the new Who series spin-off hardback novels, I Am a Dalek is certainly short. It's snappily paced, too, though I did manage to put the book down on several occasions.

The plot, involving a lone example of the deadly species that was assumed to be dead, relies on an obvious level upon the plot of the 2005 television episode Dalek. To a lesser degree, and not wishing to give too much away, it also borrows from The Evil of the Daleks and Remembrance of the Daleks, particularly the novelisation of the latter story (though perhaps the target audience might not be expected to have read this 160-page book).

People picking up this novella as completist fans of Doctor Who fiction will be relieved that the Tenth Doctor has now encountered a Dalek. We care about such things, and there is a risk that David Tennant might not get the chance to meet the metal meanies in the TV series.

Though basic in its style and structure, the story's content is a little more adult than the new series hardbacks, containing references to grown-up concerns such as credit-card debts, unemployment and unfulfilling sexual relationships.

One tiny quibble: the woman mentioned on the back-cover blurb is killed by a car, not by a bus as stated on the blurb. Well, OK, she's running for a bus at the time, so maybe it's the bus's fault!

In other respects, Gareth Roberts's novella achieves what it sets out to do. I strongly encourage any emergent readers who enjoy this book to seek out the author's superior new series novel Only Human and his sadly out-of-print The English Way of Death.

Richard McGinlay
(I Am a Reviewer)

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