This is a wibbly-wobbly, timey-wimey one. Most of the Who books I’ve read so far, all of which have featured Doctors 10 or 11, have involved the TARDIS only as a means to land our hero (and sometimes his friends) in the middle of a conflict. Poor TARDIS, she never gets to be part of the fun. But Nuclear Time, gives her a chance to shine, if only just a little.
The Doctor, Amy and Rory arrive in the middle of the Colorado Desert in 1981. In the scorching sands lies an improbably perfect little town full of oddly cheery suburbanites called Apple Town. Of course, the people and the town are not what they appear to be, but this little mystery is actually solved rather quickly and isn’t the true focus of the story. The real adventure begins when the Doctor traps a nuclear bomb in stasis (where the TARDIS gets to be part of the action) and becomes trapped in an alternate time stream, running literally against the clock to save Amy and Rory from being vaporized.
This story is very character heavy. While the Doctor and the companions are still the central focus, a lot of time is spent with a couple of important secondary characters, which gives this story more emotional depth than your typical Who novel. The narrative focus switches back and forth in time and between characters, creating several threads that eventually converge in a nicely dramatic conclusion.
Overall: 5 stars
• The Doctor, Amy and Rory well characterized
• The twists and turns in the narrative are very well plotted, especially as working with time travel always complicates things
• No aliens, which in this case is a refreshing change from the norm
• The secondary characters are particularly interesting and make the story something more than a Monster of the Week scenario
• The audio book presentation was excellent, with one exception for the strained American accent of one particular character