Book Review: The Sontaran Games by Jacqueline Rayner
I didn’t really know what to expect going into these Quick Reads aside from the obvious brevity that is required for it to actually be a quick read. On that front, this novel(la) really delivers: it comes in at about 100 pages and I read it in about an hour and a half, and that’s with being distracted by the television at the same time.
Set in the companion-free period after the end of Series Four, the Doctor stumbles upon an Earth athletic training facility only to find that a string of mysterious deaths are giving the athletes-in-training a bit of trouble. The Sontarans have made an appearance, and decide that it would be great fun to enslave all of the athletes and force them to compete to the death as a means of seeing what the best of humanity are capable of when it comes to sprints, long jumps, and other sports of track and field.
The nicest thing about a book in the Quick Read series is that there isn’t any worry that it will take fifty pages for the Doctor to finally show up; he’s right there on the first page, swinging the doors of the TARDIS open and getting right into the nitty-gritty. The prose is okay but hardly awe-inspiring, and the dialogue occasionally leaves something to be desired despite Rayner clearly having a pretty good grasp on the Tenth Doctor as a character.
Plot wise, I was pleasantly surprised by The Sontaran Games. The murder mystery aspect coupled with an absolute blood bath of a book (about one death per dozen pages or so), its a lot of fun while also putting the deliciously sadistic Sontarans to very good use. There’s a bit of a twist at the end that I might have seen coming if I was really paying serious attention but as it was I was surprised and liked it. I can certainly see the appeal in these quick reads, especially if the plots are always this solid.