Doctor Who: Winner Takes All

Doctor Who: Winner Takes All - Jacqueline Rayner The Doctor and Rose land on Earth to visit Rose’s mother. What they find is a new video game, “Death to Mantodeans”, that is not as harmless and innocent as it looks like. This video game is a prize to be given to people who find a message in a card.

Winning in the video game is almost impossible. In fact, very few people have finished the training levels and only the Doctor can get a very high score.

There are other prizes people can win that are a bit more suspicious: mysterious trips. The people who go on those trips cannot be reached by any means and they are not returning from the trip; they seem to have disappeared. The truth is scarier: they have become part of the video games.

Like the other Doctor Who book I’ve reviewed, it can be enjoyed by fans of the tv series and by people who have never watched an episode. But to understand everything, like why the Doctor is a bit scared of Rose’s mother, it is necessary to have watched a few episodes. That knowledge is also useful to know the characters as their description is not very detailed.

The Quevvils, the bad aliens of this novel, seem to be ridiculous and harmless, but the truth is quite different. They shouldn’t be underestimated just because they look a bit silly; when they attack they are rather powerful.

This book shows that winning is relative. Obviously the Doctor saves the day, like he always does, but he can’t save everybody. He stops the threat and saves the Earth, but not everybody lives.

Another topics present in this novel are slavery and trust. The people in the video game can’t perform any movements themselves; they are controlled by players with gaming pads. They don’t know what is happening to them (neither the people inside the video game, nor the players), but Rose does, and she starts to wonder how much she really trusts the Doctor when she’s inside the game and the Doctor is controlling her. We see how difficult it is to trust another person when you are not in control of any part of a situation.