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Item - The Pit


Series: Doctor Who: New Adventures Novels — no. 12
Author: Penswick, Neil
Illustrator: Elson, Peter (cover)
Date: 1993
ISBN: 042620378X / 9780426203780
Length: 276 pages
User Summary: The Doctor takes Bernice to investigate the disappearance of an entire planetary system and discovers an ancient evil.
Demian's Thoughts: I had the great misfortune of becoming a rabid Doctor Who fan at about exactly the same moment that the BBC decided to stop producing the series. Thus, when the New Adventures came along, and there was a promise of brand new, official stories based on the series, I was very excited. Then I actually started reading the things. Yes, some of them are quite good, but when they're bad, they're really bad. As a result, my relationship with the series has consisted of getting in a Whovian mood, reading a few books, and then encountering something so tedious that it puts me off the idea of reading any more for several years. The Pit was the last book to defeat me -- I got about halfway through it in college, and it's been sitting on my shelf unfinished ever since... until now.

Perhaps that's too much build-up -- The Pit is by no means a spectacularly awful book. Not memorably bad. It's just the mediocre sort of bad that makes you wonder why you're wasting your time reading it (in my case, because I'm an obsessive completist who insists on reading these things in the original order of publication). It also epitomizes all that is wrong with this series of novels. The plot is incredibly convoluted and leads nowhere, the characters are shallow and forgettable, and the tone reeks of adolescent gloom. It never feels like Doctor Who at all, and it's certainly not an enjoyable work in and of itself -- it sometimes seems to be trying to shock rather than entertain, but it doesn't even manage that. After a couple hundred pages of boring politics, tedious betrayals, vague Lovecraftian references, a gratuitous appearance by William Blake and some uninteresting revelations about Time Lord history, it just kind of stops. That's about the best I can say for it.

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