I’ve wanted to get my hands on David Solomons’ two middlegrade Doctor Who books ever since they were released & I finally! did. And honestly, I was blown away by how good they both were. Both books left me with a massive smile on my face & I really hope that David is asked to write more middlegrade DW books because they were just so. blooming. good!
⚠️ A little bit of very mild, typical Doctor Who violence ⚠️
The Secret in Vault 13 was released before The Maze of Doom, however I received the books in the opposite order so I’m reviewing them that way around – you can read the books in either order though!
The Maze of Doom
The Maze of Doom follows the Doctor, Yaz, Ryan & Graham as they hunt down an ancient artefact that’s causing havoc in London; the foursome find themselves running around the city, exploring the underground, lost inside a mountain & down in the depths of the ocean trying to stop the Earth from being blown to pieces… We also get to finally learn more about Graham & his bus driving experiences, which I was thrilled about.
“Taken Aback Regarding Disorientating InSides”
The first note that I made whilst reading this book was “the humour laced throughout is fantastic” & by the end of the book that remained one of my favourite things about the story. The Maze of Doom is a middlegrade book so it’s aimed at younger Doctor Who fans; this means that things get a little bit silly at times, but David did silly in exactly the right way & I completely loved it. Something I think all Doctor Who fans will agree on is that Chibnall’s (& Jodie’s) era has taken the show back to it’s roots of being a children’s show, & The Maze of Doom (& The Secret in Vault 13) emulates this perfectly, whilst still being incredibly entertaining for me, an almost-25-year-old.
Many of my favourite Doctor Who stories (whether books, comics, audiobooks or episodes) involve going back in time so that was of course something I loved about this book, but I mainly loved just how ridiculously bonkers the whole thing was! There were so many parts to this story & I adored how far & wide the story went – it was ambitious to include so much in the story & it was developed in a way that we often miss out on in the episodes due to the time constraints. I mean, I’ve always wished the episodes were longer (I take it as a personal insult that they’re not an hour long) but now I want longer episodes even more & I want David to be on the writing team for them.
The Secret in Vault 13
I was sent a copy of this book by the author in return for an honest review.
The Secret in Vault 13 takes us on a journey across the universe when one of Graham’s house plants develops a voice; the plant tells the Doctor that her assistance is needed immediately & this leads to her & the fam fighting against aliens that look just a little bit too much like plants, breaking into a vault that hasn’t been opened in millions of years &, once again, trying to stop the end of the universe. D’ya want to know the best thing about this book though? It’s that plants can talk inside the TARDIS! This was absolutely genius & definitely something I want to see in an episode.
I was so excited to read this book after loving The Maze of Doom & I read it during a time when I was pretty stressed, but, picking up The Secret in Vault 13 instantly improved my mood & I was so eager to jump into the TARDIS once again for a brand new story from David Solomons. Honestly, David’s portrayal of Jodie made me smile so much & Graham, Yaz & Ryan jumped off of the page instantly. Admittedly, I preferred the concept of The Maze of Doom to this one, but The Secret in Vault 13 had a very lighthearted vibe which I really needed at the time.
The book revolves around something called the Galactic Seed Vault being at risk & I love the idea of something like this existing in the real world; somewhere for the seeds of all the plants in the universe to be kept secure, just in-case of an emergency. As with David’s other book, this one actually turned out to be a much bigger mission than I expected & I loved how many ideas we got to explore – honestly, they’ve just made me desperate for more of David’s Doctor Who ideas. I loved the whole concept of plant aliens being at war with one another, of the Time Lords having yet more secrets that the Doctor doesn’t know about, a vault stuck on an impossible planet, giant man-eating creatures & a giant bug protecting the most dangerous seed in the universe. How blooming marvellous (apart from when Yaz gets lost inside the TARDIS though, obvs).
When reading both of these books it became clear to me that David Solomons must be a fan of the show because he put the Doctor, Yaz, Ryan & Graham on paper brilliantly. Not only did David smash the humour of Jodie’s Doctor, he wrote a Graham that is just SO Graham, & as he’s my fav, I absolutely loved that. I also get the impression that David is a fan of the idea of the Doctor & Yaz being a thing – I squealed when Yaz & the Doc shared a dance & I adored how Yaz paid extra attention to the Doctor at all times. I mean, she does it in the show all the time, after all – even if some people refuse to see it. It is totally possible that David didn’t do the Doctor/Yaz stuff deliberately (David pls feel free to let me know) but if it was unintentional it’s a pretty big coincidence. As for Ryan, I seem to struggle to connect with book-Ryan a lot – regardless of author or story – & I have no idea why. Despite that though, David did a pretty good job with Ryan too & his silly, quick remarks were dotted throughout both books.
There will be a lot of adult Doctor Who fans who won’t want to read these books because they’ll think they’re simple or childish but they’re really, really not; both of these books are layered with plots that are made up of lots of tiny details & both of them beat some of the adult novels I’ve read in how interesting & clever the plots were. These books are also great because it’s clear that David loves the show; there are so many tiny references to the show, new & old, & there’s nothing better than being able to feel the author’s love for their book through their words. Not only do I want more books from David, they need to get him writing future episodes too because he’s just brilliant. With both books, I was never bored & the pacing was always on point; each part of the story connected to next perfectly & I really can’t think of any criticisms. I adore the idea of younger viewers getting into the show because of these books, as they’re fantastic & such a great introduction, but also because they give the reader a chance to explore so much of the Whoniverse in a ridiculously fun & exciting way.
Grab yourself a copy of The Maze of Doom using one of the links below:
Amazon.co.uk | Amazon.com | Book Depository | Hive | Waterstones
You can also listen to The Maze of Doom using one of the links below:
Audible.co.uk | Audible.com | Hive | Waterstones
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