The first batch of Doctor Who: Decide Your Destiny books comes to an end with The Corinthian Project, the fourth book in the series, written by Davey Moore. Once again the reader/player is taken to the future (something I bemoaned in my last review), though this time it's only the near-future. "When the TARDIS lands in an undersea community known as the Corinthian Project, it doesn't take you long to realise there are some very strange things going on. Explore the Project and see if you can uncover the truth..." Ooh, misleading.
Well, somewhat misleading at any rate, because "explore" you certainly do. Moore has clearly spent at least as long creating the setting for this adventure -- its technology, its technicalities, and especially its acronyms -- as he has the actual plot, and he wants you to know it. Consequently the writing is highly descriptive, but too much so -- you can't run down a corridor without being told if you're going clockwise or anti-clockwise; early on you're herded into a Presentation Pod for an introductory lecture, where you're handed a three-page letter explaining the terms and characters... at the end of which you're offered the 'choice', "Now head back to 32 and choose a new direction".
And there is the book's fatal flaw. Never mind exploring the station or riding on a Sea Bike in no way that furthers the plot -- at least that sounds cool, and certain boys will revel in the over-detailing of the way the undersea station works -- but, frequently, once you've chosen a path via two or three decisions, you're shuttled from page to page following "Turn to 59"-style instructions. Where's the choice in that? Moore seems quite happy to let you make a few choices, but after that he wants to tell a straightforward story for a good half a dozen (or more) pages. At least it seems to fulfill another of my desires expressed last time, which was for the same essential events to be occurring 'behind the scenes', but if that sacrifices any choice then I'd prefer the shifting explanations of the last book.
So, at the end of the first batch of Decide Your Destiny books, they don't have a very good batting average. It's not the fault of the concept or the younger audience they're aimed at -- the prose style is good, simple but descriptive, effective for this sort of work. And the concept is obviously a brilliant one. But the weak plotting and style of choices in the books by Colin Brake and Davey Moore (who between them penned three of the initial four titles), makes those books less than satisfying. Only Richard Dungworth's Alien Arena has given me unquestioning enjoyment so far.
Looking ahead to the next batch, they're written by Richard Dungworth (yay!), Trevor Baxendale (author of some entertaining normal Who novels)... and Davey Moore and Colin Brake. Perhaps they learnt from their initial follies?