Friday, 9 April 2010
Review: The Diary of a Dr. Who Addict by Paul Magrs
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Released: March 4th, 2010
Grade rating: B
It's the 1980's and David has just started secondary school. He's becoming a teenager, but still hanging onto the rituals of childhood, particularly his addiction to Doctor Who, sharing the books with his best friend and neighbour, Robert, and watching the TV show. But time moves relentlessly on, and Robert starts rejecting the Doctor in favour of girls, free weights and new music. Against a backdrop of Bowie, Breville toasters and trips to Blackpool, David acknowledges his own abilities and finds his place in the world.
Even though I'm not a teenage boy living in the 1980s, I still related to The Diary of a Dr. Who Addict much more than most of the other books I've read. That's because I too have an obsession with a TV show, but it's Buffy, rather than Doctor Who. Like main protagonist David, I can rattle off episode names and numbers, ramble on about useless trivia and give you a summary of each and every episode ever broadcast. Embarrassingly, I also used to record episodes off the TV, and listen to them on my audio Walkman. I ran out of blank videos after Season 1, so of course I had to have a substitute. That's where the similarities end, I think, though I feel better knowing that author Paul Magrs may just understand what I've been going through for the last twelve years.
The Diary of a Dr. Who Addict is primarily about growing up at a time when everything was different. For example, being gay was still somewhat frowned upon, which led to an abundance gay slurs being used as everyday playground taunts. David gets his fair share of these, even though it's unwarranted at the time, and in no way deserved. He's slowly growing apart from his best friend, fellow Doctor Who addict, Robert, and is also living with mysterious new Grandma Jacqui. He handles it all well and takes everything in his stride, but adolescence is all new to him, and it's hard to navigate.
Girls enter the mix further into the novel, and David finds himself with a new friend. By this time, Robert isn't around much, and the door is open for new opportunities and friendships. Karen is a good match for him, and though their relationship is never really romantic, she makes his school days more bearable. I loved this aspect of the story, as we all know girls and boys are capable of being just friends. It might be becoming increasingly rare in YA fiction, but it does happen.
Slow pacing and sparse chapters at times jarred my concentration, but as with all real-life stories, it was something I was prepared for. Not everyone's life is a rollercoaster ride, and sometimes it's just nice to sit back and let it travel at its own speed. David's story is like that, and it's all the more realistic because of it. He finds his place eventually, makes new friends in the process and watches many excellent episodes of Doctor Who. If that's not growing up, I don't know what is.