BOOK REVIEW: Doctor Who – Night of the Kraken

Night of the KrakenTitle: Doctor Who – Choose the Future: Night of the Kraken

Author: Jonathan Green

Publisher: Puffin

Published: 26 April 2016

RRP: £6.99

When one choice can lead to triumph or failure, life or death, glory or destruction . . . which will you choose? With Choose the Future, YOU decide how, when, where and with whom the Doctor will fight to save the world!
In this brand new adventure, Night of the Kraken, the Twelfth Doctor meets a roguish time-smuggler and faces a terrifying creature from the deep with a plan to destroy the Earth.
The fate of the Doctor and the universe he protects are in your hands…

Adventure Gamebooks certainly seem to be making a comeback and not just in digital form. Puffin have recently started a new range of gamebooks set in the universe of Doctor Who. These “Choose the Future” books feature Peter Capaldi as the Time Lord and it’s up to the reader to guide the intrepid Time Lord through his current adventure. I’ve played an old series of Doctor Who gamebooks from back in the 1980s which were quite bizarre and didn’t capture the essence of the show or the characters they featured. Can veteran gamebook author Jonathan Green do better in this, the first book in the Choose the Future range?

I always consider it a good sign when I see Jonathan Green’s name attached to any interactive fiction project. Green has a long and successful record writing these types of books and so I was reasonably sure that Night of the Kraken would be a solid adventure in its own right. I wasn’t wrong. The adventure finds the Doctor in late eighteenth century Cornwall on a dark night. Immediately he finds himself tangled with a highwayman who is not what he seems, the dead walking and tales of Kraken amongst the waves.

One of the things I liked most about Night of the Kraken is that although the adventure can be completed relatively quickly there is far more to the book than first meets the eye. Not only are there a number of different paths through the book leading to different takes on the events surrounding the Cornish village, but each has a couple of different conclusions. I played through a very similar path twice: once I concluded the quest but not in the manner that the Doctor would have preferred … the second, I managed a satisfying resolution by varying my choice at a key point.

I particularly like the fact that in this first Choose the Future entry, Green has for the most part forsaken the traditional “you made a mistake … the end” route but rather has produced a number of different adventures within the one tale. Yes, there are the occasional dead end sections – I found one while in a church… but for the most part, readers should be able to achieve a successful end to the adventure. The key is that the reader CHOOSES the exact path taken and this can change on subsequent readings. I think this should encourage reluctant readers back for more.

In Night of the Kraken, Jonathan Green does quite a good job in capturing the voice of the Twelfth Doctor as played by Peter Capaldi. While the humour from the Doctor is sometimes a little off-kilter, I put this down to the fact that the adventure is aimed at a younger audience. It never feels forced and I could definitely see this adapted to comic or even animated form with no alteration to dialogue.

Night of the Kraken is beautifully presented with a really simple but effective cover design that incorporates a series branding style along with a really eye catching combination of elements. The book feels like a quality product and the double-line-spaced text inside should help make the reading process easier for younger readers or readers who struggle somewhat with compressed text.

If you have a little one who is a fan of Doctor Who, then you can’t really go wrong with picking up a copy of Night of the Kraken for them. The adventure changes based on choices and is written in a clear and easy to follow manner. I’d also recommend this for fans of the show in general. The adventure captures the spirit of the show, even if it does (by necessity) present it in a simple way. I’m an old school fan of both Doctor Who and Adventure Gamebooks and I will definitely continue to buy entries in this Choose the Future series.


GS Rating: 4.5/5

GS Blogger: Antony McGarry-Thickitt

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