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Lil' Washu's Book Review: Touched By An Angel

Lil' Washu's Book Review: Touched By An Angel

11th Doctor + Ponds + Weeping Angels = Just like old times again, eh?

Author: Lil' Washu/Wednesday, October 1, 2014/Categories: Blog, Book Review

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This is my first review as an author on the page! I will primarily be reviewing books, although I may review other things in the future. The books I review will be anything I can get my hands on, comics, e-books, novels, etc. And, as always, my reviews will be as spoiler-free as possible. Reading the book before reading my review won't be required.

For my first review, we'll be looking at Touched By An Angel by Jonathan Morris. This is an 11th Doctor and Ponds adventure written back in 2011, although it recently received a make over on its cover.
The novel opens with Rebecca Whitaker dying in a road accident in 2003. The next chapter finds us in the present day (2011 for when this novel was written) with her widow, Mark Whitaker, who is still incredibly unhappy, antisocial, and grieving eight years later. Toward the end of his work day, he receives an envelope addressed to him, in his own handwriting, written eight years ago. Inside are a set of instructions, as well as a message:

Make sure you follow these instructions, Mark.
Because if you do, remember this:
Just as I did.

Add in the fact that Mark starts seeing an angel statue on his way home, and it's apparent that the Doctor and the Ponds aren't far behind. Even though they try saving him, Mark is transported back to the 1990s, which is during the time he goes to university and begins his friendship with Rebecca that leads to their eventual relationship and marriage. The list Mark wrote for himself contains different times where he's supposed to interfere in his younger self's life. If he fails to follow the list, he will change history and create paradoxes. One of the Doctor's rules is to not cross your own timeline, especially if you're intending to do any interfering; however, his hands are tied because Mark has already interfered in his own timeline or he wouldn't have sent himself the instructions. I hope you're prepared for some wibbly-wobbliness, because there is a lot of it going on in this novel! 
As the story progresses, the Doctor and the Ponds discover what the list is leading up to, but what we, the readers, knew all along: Mark preventing Rebecca's death. Without spoiling the ending, a few crucial questions are answered before the novel ends:

1. What would really happen if you went back in time and saved the one you loved?
2. Is Mark really supposed to save Rebecca? Or is this somehow some scheme devised by the Weeping Angels to help them gain enough energy to ultimately destroy the universe?
Sometimes these novels are come and go. There are a few times where I feel as if the author has never bothered to watch a single episode of Doctor Who, much less any current episodes with the main characters they're writing about. Jonathan Morris; however, has clearly done his homework. I'm a bit worn out on the Weeping Angels when it comes to their screen time, but Morris brought me back over to the Angels' team. I would have really enjoyed seeing this as an episode. Morris did a superb job at capturing the Doctor and the Ponds' characters on paper. As I was reading this, I had no problem reading the Doctor, Rory, and Amy's lines in the voices of their respected actors. What I like about Morris too is that he also doesn't forget about making you want to care about Mark and what happens to him. If Morris was unable to make you care about him, then the whole story would have been a bust. He gives us enough background and story to make you want to know more about Mark, while also sympathizing with him. It's hard to not sympathize with someone who only yearns to have one more day with the person they wanted to grow old with.
Characters only make up part of a novel, but Morris is also quite good at his story telling and pacing. From almost the very beginning and by reading the insert on the back, you know Mark is going to try to save his wife. During the entire story, that anticipation is in the back of the reader's mind, and the build up to it is great. The ending also isn't anti-climatic, which I've seen happen to some of these novels. The author tries so hard to paint us the most amazing and complicated picture, but they fall short in delivering a sound ending. This isn't true for Morris. The reader gets the final show down of whether Mark will save Rebecca and the ending doesn't disappoint. There are few things left unexplained and the Angels are taken care of in true "that which holds the image of an Angel becomes itself, an Angel" fashion.

All in all, Morris weaves an interesting story that kept me intrigued and wanting to know more. The novel feels like an episode they forgot to air somewhere in series 6. So, if Eleven is your Doctor, you love the Ponds, and you're wanting a different approach to a Weeping Angels story, then Touched By An Angel is the right adventure for you. I give it 4/5.

Happy reading, my friends!
-Lil' Washu

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