I am a big Dr.Who fan. I also love reading though, for various reasons, have shied away until now from the many numerous books associated with the re-launched Dr.Who television series in fear that I may just be disappointed. In a similar way, I have also until now avoided the audio versions of these books.
But I had a long journey to undertake on my own to see relatives, thought this would be a fun way to "read" a book and drive at the same time and, seeing as as friend of mine has loads of these audio adventures, decided to borrow one and see if I had been depriving myself all this time from all original and new Dr.Who stories I might otherwise have experienced.
Sad to say that I haven't missed much!
This is an average adventure that sees Rose and Mickey (remember them?) travelling back to Ancient Rome with the Doctor after discovering a petrified statue in The British Museum that closely resembles and looks like Rose! But after an initially clever start that really piques your interest, the book then kind of descends into sci-fi cliche and conundrum, not helped by the fact that the plot itself refuses to follow conventional rules making you feel strongly as though you are being cheated like the audience at a very poor Magicians show where you can see the performer is just making things up as he goes along and not very successfully at that!
David Tennant has a relaxing voice and reads this story well. I am not sure about his attempt at "voices" though and thought some of these pretty bad and at times, a bit like the "We are Laaaaadies"characters from Little Britain!
I guess I just am not used to hearing one person trying to tell the whole story, acting out the other characters as well as his own, in an audio adaptation and maybe if I heard more of these, I might get more used to it! Likewise a better story with a stronger and more cohesive plot might have been more beneficial to my experience. There are a few scenes in this paticular story, one involving the Doctor and the Colliseum, that just left me shaking my head in bemusement!
I think younger listeners would enjoy this more because they would be less strict about the way certain sci-fi elements are handled in this book:- namely Paradox and the way it can incoporated into a story as the previous reviewer has mentioned! But for someone more grown up, I think you are going to be just as disappointed with this Audio book as I was. Added to this is the fact I have since discovered that what we get here is an abridged version of the text, and you can start to see why this audio book was on a bit of a hiding to nothing with me right from the start!
I wanted to enjoy this. I couldn't! I also think David Tennant is much better than this and that though he is a brilliant story-teller, he should find better material to narrate and try harder with the voices or else give them up completely.
For me, I think I will stick with the television show......
Science Fiction is full of paradoxes events that occur which are just not possible. For some people having a book containing a paradox does not bother them as they shrug it off as just another element of science fantasy. Well not me! If there is one thing that boils my blood are lazy authors writing a novel that contains segments that could never happen! With a time travelling time lord at the helm there is every chance that a paradox could occur does The Stone Rose avoid the trap?
The audio book opens at the British Library where the Doctor, Rose and Mickey are on a visit. Once they enter the Ancient Rome exhibit they realise that one of the statues looks just like Rose, even down to her earrings! The Doctor and Rose know exactly what to do so they jump into the TARDIS to try and discover how the statue came about. Their adventure sees them transported back to Rome where an enigmatic sculptor is creating work at an extraordinary rate. With the Doctor and Rose becoming separated can they discover the truth behind the disappearance of so many slaves and why does someone in the past know so much about the future?
Before going into a critique of the story itself I will mention the quality of the audio book itself. The Stone Rose comes on 2 CDs and is an abridged version of the book by Jacqueline Rayner. The fact that the story has been shortened does not prove an issue (unless the paradox I discuss later is actually explained in the book, but not on the CD). The narration is done by none other than David Tennant himself and is truly excellent. You can tell by the quality of his voice acting that he will go onto great things after Doctor Who. The only issue I had with Tennants narrative was his impression of Mickey; it was actually pretty accurate, but that means it was highly annoying. Tennants narrative is a clear 5 out of 5.
Unfortunately, the novel he has to work with can not be lavished with the same praise as there are a couple of issues with it, not at least an error that undermines the entire story. For the first half of the book the pace rattles along and is a good romp. The scenes in which the Doctor is thrust into the Coliseum are great and have real suspense. However, once the book returns to more standard science fiction ways it takes a turn for the worse. I have no issue with aliens or people from the future being involved in Earths history, but the way in which Rayner explains what is occurring is ridiculous.
The books second half is a complete paradox that could not possibly have happened. Something is needed by the Doctor and it is given to him by someone from the future. However, the item in question is never actually created! Rayner even knows that this is the case as Tennant mentions it on the CD! I do not think that there is any excuse for a sci fi writer to become so complacent and lazy. The book feels like it was written with a younger audience in mind, but having obvious errors is just plain patronising. By breaking one of the cardinal rules of science fiction Rayner has managed to break the flow of what was a good book.
The rest of the story, apart from the central paradox, is good. Ancient Rome is realised well and the characters of Rose and the Doctor come to life. This is one of the benefits of having Tennant narrates the audio as he is able to act as the Doctor throughout. I felt that the idea of returning to the past to discover why a statue was created was a great idea, but introducing another element of technology from an alternative future Earth was too much.
Overall, the story was solid until the final half making it a below average read. However, this is the audio review and the fantastic way in which a quality actor like Tennant can bring characters to life adds a little to it. If Rayner had been able to keep the story more controlled and refrain from over indulging in the time travel aspects they would have had a great book for a younger audience. As it is, the story will upset those who consider themselves science fiction fans so it should be left for newer Dr Who fans to enjoy. However, as something to listen to in the car on a long journey with your kids, you could do a lot worse than listen to Tennants silky tones.
Author: Jacqueline Rayner
Narrator: David Tennant
Price: amazon uk - £9.99
play.com - £6.99
Mickey is startled to find a statue of Rose in a museum - a statue that is 2,000 years old. The Doctor realises that this means the TARDIS will shortly take them to Ancient Rome, but when it does, he and Rose soon have more on their minds than sculpture. While the Doctor searches for a missing boy, Rose befriends a girl who claims to know the future - a girl whose predictions are surprisingly accurate. But then the Doctor stumbles on the hideous truth behind the statue of Rose - and Rose herself learns that you have to be very careful what you wish for...Featuring the Doctor and Rose as played by David Tennant and Billie Piper in the acclaimed hit series from BBC Television, this work is written by Justin Richards. It is read by David Tennant, and includes author interview by David Darlington of "Doctor Who Magazine".