REVIEW: Doctor Who: The Runaway Train by Oli Smith

18276379Title: Doctor Who: The Runaway Train
Author: Oli Smith
Year of Publication: 2010
Genre: Media Tie-In
Format: Audio Book
Length: 1 hour and 4 minutes
First Line: “The drone of a fly penetrated the heavy atmosphere of a railway platform; finally coming to rest on the sweaty top lip of a man dozing in his chair by the station hut.”

Summary: Arriving on Earth in the midst of the American Civil War, the Doctor and Amy must get a posse together to help them retrieve an alien artefact that has fallen into the clutches of the Confederate Army. The terraforming device belongs to the Cei, a race of invaders who plan to use it to turn the planet into a new home world. But neither the Army nor the aliens are keen to let the Doctor and his gang interfere with their plans, and give chase across the Wild West. The only hope of escape for the Doctor and friends is to catch the 3.25 to Arizona and race along the newly-built transcontinental railroad…

Review: This was the first 11th Doctor audiobook I ever read, and if I am not mistaken it was the first one to be released. I chose it to be my first 11th Doctor novel simply because it was set during the Civil War and I love the American Civil War and I wanted to see what they did with it.

This was narrated by the 11th Doctor himself, Matt Smith. That was plus. I have to say that Matt Smith did an amazing job narrating this book. Of course, he got the Doctor down perfectly (one of my favorite lines was “Farm land? Do I look like a land owner? I live in a blue box for goodness sake! A very tiny, cupboard like, almost coffinesque in its modesty blue box!” Then he looked back to make sure Amy has closed the door to the TARDIS). Since this particular novel was set in the Wild West, Matt Smith had to do accents for a lot of characters. He was dead on! He did a perfect (okay, as perfect as a British guy can get) American accent. When he did the accent he also had to use different character voices as well. I would have thought that it was multiple people narrating this book, truth be told, he did that well. Matt Smith kind of failed to capture Amy Pond’s Scottish accent though. When it was an Amy line I was sometimes confused and thought ‘Wait, that’s Amy?’

However, it was Oli Smith’s writing that got me. This novel was so fast paced that I had trouble keeping up. It didn’t help that Smith was bad with transitions. When I read this book, I often pondered things like ‘Wait, when did they get there? Weren’t they just here?’ I had to listen to this novel probably a minimum of ten times to understand where each transition from one action to another takes place. And I’m not kidding; it was tough. With that, it could have been written better. Also Smith remembered to put in some timey-wimey in the book as well. It wouldn’t really be the 11th Doctor/Steven Moffat era without timey-wimey-ness.

Worst part: The writing was too subtle. It was hard to tell what was happening because his transitions were too vague and occurred too fast.

Best part: Matt Smith as the narrator! Holy cow did not expect this man to be this good! This British man can do a convincing American accent. That takes skill.

Grade: C

Recommend For: Fans of ‘Blink’ or the Classic Who episode ‘The Gunfighters’, 11th Doctor/Matt Smith fans, or American history geeks.

Other Books by This Author: Doctor Who: Nuclear Time and Doctor Who: Blackout


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