She ran into a cavern.
She ran into a vault.
She ran into a cathedral.
She ran into a huge space, a vast dome, with the Doctor standing at its centre, the grinning lord of an impossible realm.
It was like being plunged underwater, the sudden pressure in her head, and Rose thought, simply, No! and ran back out again.
Into the yard. The same old yard. With headless Mickey still chopping away at the fire door.
She looked back at the blue box. She’d left the door open and she could see, in the gap between door and jamb, that huge, strange space reaching far beyond, With the Doctor somehow in the distance, a small figure, a good twenty metres away and yet within a box that stood beside her, no deeper than a metre in itself.
I think that was the moment in 2006 that sealed the deal for many of us — Doctor Who was back. My kids (who were at the perfect age to be introduced to the show) loved that moment, but I don’t think they were sold until The End of the World the next week. But I was in from the time Rose Tyler stepped into the TARDIS — and (not at all surprisingly) her creator, Russell T. Davies, captured the moment perfectly in his novelization of the episode.
It’s more than just a novelization, Davies is able to take a lot of things that happened or developed later in the show’s run and weave them into this adventure (or at least set the stage for them) while he’s fleshing out a lot of things that he couldn’t get into the episode. We got a very nice glimpse of Doctors past and future (even post-Jodie Whittaker), and a very character-appropriate appearance from a future companion that made me chuckle audibly (that moment was worth half of what I paid for the book)
The prologue adds weight and context to the disaster of Rose’s store being destroyed (which is pretty easy to miss). Davies also does a great job at showing that Mickey isn’t just the loser that Rose is shackled with, but he’s someone worthy of her time and devotion. We eventually got to see some of that in the show — but it was about the same time that Mickey left. Here we see it from the start.
But the most important part of the book — like the episode itself — was Rose (it’s right there in the title). Davies probably knows her better than anyone, and is able to use that knowledge to flesh out the character, to helps us see (and not just assume) what’s going on in Rose’s mind. We see her loneliness, her sense of being incomplete, how she needs something more than working at a shop or being with Mickey can give her. Seeing Rose embrace her capabilities and end up as sure and certain as she is later. This depth was most welcome and made me miss Ms. Tyler even more.
I needed a quick, fun read after some pretty heavy reads — and the BBCAmerica Doctor Who marathon had me nostalgic already. So I’m glad I had this handy, it fit the bill precisely. It was a pleasant blast from the past with plenty of bonus nuance and detail from the man who brought us the new era of The Doctor. If you’re a Whovian who’s never tried one of these Target books — this would be a great place to start. If you’re no stranger to them, you know how good they can be. This is just that.