The novel “The Price of Paradise” by Colin Brake was published for the first time in 2006.
The Tenth Doctor and Rose Tyler are attracted to a planet by a distress signal sent by a starship that fell down after being hit by a powerful electromagnetic pulse. It’s a scientific expedition led by Professor Petra Shulough, who is looking for the planet Laylora, a legendary paradise where the inhabitants live in harmony with nature.
The humanoids native to the planet see with surprise the arrival of a starship. It’s not the first time someone comes to their planet: years before, other aliens came and a baby was left, who grew up together with the natives. For them, the concern is the fact that the arrival of other aliens concides with a series of earthquakes and the appearance of monstrous creatures, as if the world was reacting to the arrival of strangers.
“The Price of Paradise” is part of a series of novels connected to the new “Doctor Who” series. They’re targeted to a wide audience by being linear enough to be appreciated even by very young readers but sophisticated enough to interest more mature readers.
“The Price of Paradise” is centered around the mystery of a planet that looks different from all the others. Inhabited by primitive humanoids, it seems to react adversely to the arrival of an alien starship. This behavior makes the planet appear as a single organism with an immune system, is a mystery but is a danger to the natives too.
Professor Petra Shulough, who’s looking for Laylora, the legendary paradise planet, think she finally found it but the starship carrying her expedition falls down on it after being hit by an electromagnetic pulse. Their distress signal is received by the Tardis, which brings the Doctor and Rose to the planet.
“The Price of Paradise” is set during the second season of the new “Doctor Who” television series, when Rose has made some experience about adventures in space and time and aliens. In this novel, she and the Doctor are separated for quite some time and she can handle herself quite well on her own.
This separation allows the reader to learn about the various characters and discover the mysteries of the planet. The Doctor is mistaken for an enemy by the members of the scientific expedition and discovers their goals and the events that brought them to the planet. Rose meets the natives and the mysterious human boy who lives with them and discovers the history of their tribe.
It seems to me that “The Price of Paradise” follows the style of that television season, much more character-oriented than plot-oriented. The characters seem to me by far the best element of the novel: the Doctor and Rose behave as the readers who watched the show expect and there are also various references to other adventures but the other main characters are alwo well developed for a book of that length so they have a history and motivations.
The plot is in my opinion the weakest element of this novel. You don’t look for originality in these books but I think “The Price of Paradise” would’ve turned out much better if Colin Brake had tried to give the central theme more depth as it’s also the most original, meaning the planet as a single organism.
At the end of the story, the explanation about the origin of the planet and how it works are quite hurried and limited, leaving more questions than answers. Also for this reason, the planet seems to me far from a paradise. Perhaps for those who consider Luddism as the highest aspiration it can be, otherwise I can’t see the appeal of that primitive life.
I’m OK with a character-oriented novel but I want to see developed at least the basic aspects of the plot. The generally high pace covers some flaws but in the end I couldn’t help noticing at least some problems. For this reason, I found “The Price of Paradise” a bit disappointing. It’s a novel that may appeal to readers with a limited interest in the plot, otherwise I think it’s a novel for “Doctor Who” fans.