Scorecard: (Out of 10)
* Quality of Writing - 7
* Pace - 6
* Plot development - 6
* Characters - 9
* Enjoyability - 8
* Insightfulness - 7
* Ease of Reading - 8
* Photos/Illustrations - NA
Final Score: 51/70 = 73%
I really should have read this before Doctor Who: Shroud of Sorrow because I couldn't help comparing the two and that's not fair to this book. They are completely different works and each are good in their own way. However, this is not a happy book. In the review of Shroud, I noted how strange it was that a book on grief was hilariously full of one liners and snark. Plague of the Cyberman is a book about fear, strength to overcome overwhelming odds, and community/family, but there is little joy here. Even the Doctor's jokes fall flat, as he points out more than once.
Yet, it is captivating. The first half of the book is a bit of slow build but only really in comparison to the second half which I'd say is more like a train wreck, not that its bad - it's quite good - but it's fast, unstoppable, and you can't look away. I couldn't put it down and ended up finishing it quite late. Because there's no companion in this book, we get Olga - a schoolteacher in a roughly medieval town who ends up being a pretty awesome helper. She may not have technical knowledge or understanding of the wider universe, but she comes to understand the Doctor in a way few others have. Olga sees some sides of him for what they truly are and through her, we get to as well. The other characters are compelling as well and there were none I didn't like, even the less then savory ones.
Best of all, the juxtaposition of Cybermen and basically medieval culture gives the book a unique and interesting setting.
The big downside of this book was its predictability. The first half set up the rest of the book well, too well really because as soon as I met the Ernhardt family and the Watchman, I'd figured out a good bit of the plot. Don't get me wrong, there were still surprises but the 'twists' were rather lacking. Once I knew about Lord Enrhardt's Cyberman hand and that the Watchman had done it, I figured out Victor was mostly Cyberman parts and Lady Ernhardt was a machine that somehow looked human. I mean they only mention it half a dozen times for little reason. To what extent Victor was metal or how the Lady didn't look like a Cyberman or if she was friend or foe I wasn't sure, but the twists were really obvious. Still the plot was interesting, if somewhat predictable and clichéd, and reading this was enjoyable.
While not top marks, this book is certainly one of the better media tie-in books I've read. The plot might be a bit clichéd, but the characters are strong and the characterization of the Doctor is incredible. This is a darker version of Matt Smith's Doctor than we usually see, but it's also deeper then usually seen and I like it.