After finishing Beautiful Chaos by Gary Russell, my first reaction would be “Not quite as satisfying as the first book I read in the series”. Don’t get me wrong. I enjoy anything related to Doctor Who, and there were some interesting elements in this book, but it just didn’t grip me like other Doctor Who stories. I think of it like one of the t.v. episodes, one you enjoy, but it isn’t as stunning as say Blink or The Girl in the Fireplace.

Maybe the reason it wasn’t as satisfying was because Donna was his companion in the book, and I never have really liked Donna much. But then again, Donna has grown on me so I don’t think it was her at fault. What I think it was, was the somber more depressing themes and plot devices in the book. Lots of pointless deaths, throw in a case of Alzheimer’s and you have the makings of a gloomy story. I like to read to escape some of these mundane facts of life, so it doesn’t thrill me when a writer adds this bit of realism to his story.

That being said, there is plenty to find interesting about this story. For one thing, the plot involves the Mandragora Helix, which you may recall from the classic t.v. series’ episode The Masgue of Mandragora.. It’s always nice when writers can revisit previous story elements. It’s nice to see it on the t.v. series, but there are only so many episodes and quite a bit of history to draw from, so it is nice to see these BBC books adding to what has gone before.

Another element of the story I found of interest was the inclusion of Donna’s Grandfather, Wilfred Mott, and to a lesser extent, her mother. I sometimes think Wilf would have a made a better companion than Donna. In any case, we get to see a little more character development of Wilf as well as Donna.

As for the story, it’s your typical alien entity wants to take over the world, and the Doctor must stop it kind of story. This time the Mandragora Helix is using technology to take control over humanity’s destiny. Over the course of a few days, Mandragora uses its purple energy to kill and manipulate hapless humans until there appears to be no one who can stop its nefarious scheme. Of course, we all know the Doctor will think of something in the end.

So overall, nothing too inventive about Beautiful Chaos, but an interesting read none-the-less. I would recommend this book for anyone, but especially for those that may be fans of Wilf.