The Monsters Inside, written by Stephen Cole, and one of the first few Ninth Doctor New Series Adventures released in 2005, leads the Doctor and his companion Rose to the Justicia system. Unaware that the planet they have landed on is part of a system-wide prison complex, they are arrested for trespassing and separated. While Rose is brought to a juvenile detention facility, where from the start she has to fight for survival with long-time inmates protecting their turf, the Doctor is brought to a scientific research prison to help with the various projects. Unwilling to help at first, he nonetheless has a scientific breakthrough with one the other inmates on a project, accelerating the secret plan the true masters of Justicia have, and setting something in motion that he can only stop with the help of his trusted companion and some unlikely allies…
Of the five Ninth Doctor New Series Adventures I’ve read so far (The Clockwise Man the only one missing), I liked The Monsters Inside the most. It has very good mix of action and fun, and is the novel that portrays the Doctor-Rose the dynamic the best, despite the fact that they are separated for large portions of the novel. Some parts of the plot seem somewhat rushed – for example, the conclusion – but overall the novel has a very nice flow and never has any dull phases. In what seems to be a constant among most of the New Series Adventures, parts of the novel are rather predictable, but in contrast to some of the other novels, The Monsters Inside also has some surprise twists you won’t predict right away, so I won’t harp on about that too much. The Raxacoricofallapatorians work better in prose than on TV, because just reading about them isn’t quite as distractingly silly as seeing their rather cringeworthy appearance onscreen. All the mentioning of their flatulence is something that could turn off readers, I guess, but I didn’t have a problem with it, so I would say that the novel actually manages to add something to this race to make them actually worthy antagonists for the Doctor.
Regarding the characterisations: separating the Doctor and Rose actually works in favour of the novel, as it gives Rose room to show more of her personality, and also shows that she can make a difference without the Doctor. I would argue that this novel does more for her than many of the TV episodes. The Monsters Inside also has the best portrayal of the Ninth Doctor; even if I hadn’t known which Doctor this novel featured, it would have been clear very soon, as Stephen Cole has his mannerisms and tics down pat. As always, and understandably, the original characters are more hit and miss. Some, like Flowers and the Raxacoricofallapatorians, are fleshed out pretty well, but others aren’t fleshed out more than absolutely necessary, like the Doctor’s fellow scientist prisoners, or a couple of characters in Rose’s part of the prison. Overall none of the characters remain one-dimensional, though, and have enough flesh on their bones to fulfill their roles in the novel.
Overall The Monsters Inside is a strong novel and a welcome addition to the lore of a sadly rather short-lived incarnation of the Doctor.
The Monsters Inside (by Stephen Cole) was released by BBC Books in May 2005.