As the second book in the range of new series novelisations (at least in terms of the broadcast chronology) The Christmas Invasion, by Jenny T Colgan, marks the start of the Tenth Doctor’s era. As such it is a logical choice even though there are arguably many more popular stories from this period, although for me this remained the best Christmas episode for many years until some of the more recent contributions.
This novelisation is a faithful retelling of the broadcast episode with fewer deviations or additional contributions than the novelisation of Rose. The theme of the story is as much about the Doctor and Rose both coming to terms with the former’s regeneration as it is with battling the Sycorax invasion. There is a therefore more emphasis on the strength of the relationship that has built up between the Doctor and Rose (and how it is affected by the Doctor’s regeneration) which is explored more explicitly, but there is also a little more background to the Guinevere One team and their relationships. There’s also rather less continuity here than in the novelisation of Rose although John Lumic, who will crop up in the not too distant future gets a mention, as does the Brigadier. There are also obvious references to the previous TV episode and with the Doctor’s first encounter with the Slitheen when he last encountered the Member of Parliament for Flydale North, now Prime Minister.
Jenny T Colgan clearly relishes the chance to highlight the threat in this story - the horror of the population literally standing on a precipice around the world is darker here and the shock of those watching their loved ones on the brink is more apparent. Meanwhile, although he features comparatively little in this story, the energy and enthusiasm of the Tenth Doctor is captured on the page and by the end of the story when he finally “arrives”, that spirit of excitement and the feeling that the show was on the verge of something great really leaps form the page. She also has fun with the idea that the world of Douglas Adams’ Hitchhikers Guide could be part of the Doctor Who canon (not for the first time in the show’s history). The book also features some nice attention to the detail of the era here that serves to date the episode but also frighteningly to remind us of the passing of time since the episode aired - see Mickey connect to the internet using a dial-up connection on a laptop with 512Mb of RAM!
Overall this story is written with a light touch that perfectly evokes the episode and its central characters and won’t leave you feeling as if you’ve overindulged on Christmas pudding. To top it off, some wonderful chapter titles themed around Christmas songs, a rather touching author’s afterword and another excellent cover by Anthony Dry are the icing on this particular Christmas cake!