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Basically Read: YA Books for the Doctor Who Fan

I am new to Doctor Who, I just began watching about 2 weeks ago.  I have fallen in love and have now watched all of Doctor 9 (my fave), Doctor 10 (he grew on me) and Doctor 11 (up until the current season).  There may have been some bad parenting involved, thankfully it is summer and it was totally okay for the Tween and I to stay up until 1 AM watching several episodes in a row.  The whole family is watching the show together; yes, even the 4-year-old (who did not stay up until 1 a.m. because that would make my next day very, very bad).

There are several things I love about the show: The way it teaches about diversity and being accepting of others, the morality of the doctor and his only resorting to violence as a last defense, and, of course, the glorious messiness that comes with traveling through time and space.  I loved all three doctors (I have only watched 9 through 11), and although 9 is my favorite, 10 and 11 each have their charms.  As I watched, I kept thinking of various YA books that I have read and loved that I thought Doctor Who fans would enjoy.  Here is my list.

BZRK by Michael Grant
Everytime I see the Cybermen and their attempts to rid the world of human emotions because they are seen as a disadvantage, I can’t help but think of BZRK.  Here, one of the most demented villians I have read (human, although they would also make a good alien species for Who), use nanotechnology to try and reach the same goal as the Cybermen.  Chilling, adventure packed, and full of important ethical discussions.

Shade’s Children by Garth Nix
On every child’s 14th birthday, they are collected by Overlord’s inhabiting the Earth and their parts are harvested to create machinelike creatures who sole purpose is to kill.  Shade and his band of children are trying to stay alive and off the radar.  They are the only hope for humankind.  Basically, run.

Variant by Robison Wells
There are many instances in the Whoverse where people are not what they seem, and the revelation can shock you.  Variant has one of the most jaw dropping revelations I have read in a while that would fit perfectly in the world of Doctor Who.  Benson Fisher gets himself enrolled in a boarding school that has no adults, but once he is there he can’t leave – and he really, really wants to leave because what is happening inside the school is terrifying.

Interstellar Pig by William Sleator
Barney’s boring seaside vacation gets very interesting when the neighbors next door get him involved in a bizarre game called Interstellar Pig.  It is very Whovian fun.  Oh, but don’t lose.

Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card
Ender is a child, a genius.  And he is recruited to play a game.  A game that it turns out will have tremendous repercussions for the history of the human race, an alien species, and Ender himself.  If you continue to read the series, there are several titles, you will also get an interesting look at a boy who rejects violence and embraces an ethic similar to the Doctor’s.

Mr. Was by Pete Hautman
One night as Jack’s father attacks and kills his mom, Jack runs through a door that takes him back into the past.  Can he wait there in the past until the moment when he can save him mom?  This is a dark, compelling look at domestic violence and a fascinating take on time travel.

When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead
Traveling through time is tricky business, you have to be careful not to mess up the timeline.  In the 6th grade, four mysterious letters change Miranda’s world forever: I am coming to save your friend’s life, and my own. Find out what happens in Stead’s When You Reach Me, one of my very favorite middle grade reads that readers of any age will love.  As Doctor 10 would say, Brilliant!

Nobody by Jennifer Lynn Barnes
There are people in this world that no one can see.  They are nobodies.  And they are the perfect assassin. What would happen if Doctor Who looked inside the Silence and tried to determine what they were here for?  Nobody takes the point of view of two unseen characters and examines a life of those who remain hidden, unseen, on the fringes of society. Sometimes, if you look just right out of the corner of your eye, you can almost see them.

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs
Jacob’s grandfather has always told him stories, stories about peculiar children in black and white photographs.  About an island.  About an orphanage.  But what if the stories are true?  When Jacob witnesses his grandfather being killed by what can only be described as a monster, he sets out to a mysterious island to find the home and learn a truth that will challenge everything he knows about the world he lives in – and his grandfather.  I also can’t help but thinking of titles like Full Tilt by Neal Shusterman and Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury for those haunting episodes where things are just not quite right or exactly what they seem, a kind of mindbending read.

The Cavendish Home for Boys and Girls by Clare Legrand
No one knows exactly what goes on inside the Cavendish Home, but Victoria is about to find out when her best friend Lawrence goes missing and she knows he must be there.  But no one ever comes out of the home.  As I watched Amy and Rory get sucked into the doll house in the episode Night Terrors, I couldn’t help but think of this title.  And if you are looking for creepy alternate worlds, don’t forget Coraline by Neil Gaiman, who has written an episode of Doctor Who, and The Thief of Always by Clive Barker.  In fact, Gaiman is a great readalike for Who fans.

The Hourglass series by Myra McEntire
You can’t really have a YA Doctor Who reading list without the Hourglass series, an excellent time travel adventure.  Emerson Cole has grown up thinking she sees ghosts, but the truth is she can travel through time and the walls between the here and now are breaking down.  She meets and begins to fall in love with Michael, but their love is dangerous. I can’t tell you how the Doctor and River’s relationship is similar to Michael and Em’s because, well, “spoilers sweetie”.

The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffeneger
Okay this is not technically a YA book, but teen readers love it.  And this title captures all the pathos of trying to love someone who travels through time.  For more time travelling romance, you might also want to try the time travelling series by Caroline B. Cooney that begins with Both Sides of Time.

The Transall Saga by Gary Paulsen
Mark is camping solo when a mysterious beam of light transfers him to what appears to be another time, and perhaps even another planet.  Trapped in another time and place, Mark encounters amazing creatures and experiences as he tries to make his way back home to his time on Earth.

Paradise Trap by Catherine Jinks is remarkably similar in concept to the episode The God Complex with the play on everyone having their own room designed to lure them in. The why is different, but if you liked the how you should like this story.

You Killed Wesley Payne by Sean Beuadoin
Not science fiction at all, but a noir mystery with a hip happening beat to it that reminds me so much of the manic character of the 11th Doctor.  Goodeads describes it thusly: “You Killed Wesley Payne is a truly original and darkly hilarious update of classic pulp-noir, in which hard-boiled seventeen year-old Dalton Rev transfers to the mean hallways of Salt River High to take on the toughest case of his life. The question isn’t whether Dalton’s going to get paid. He always gets paid. Or whether he’s gonna get the girl. He always (sometimes) gets the girl. The real question is whether Dalton Rev can outwit crooked cops and killer cliques in time to solve the mystery of “The Body” before it solves him.”  Dalton swaggers like the Doctor with a unique voice that many Doctor Who fans will love.

Anything by Douglas Adams
If you are a fan of the Matt Smith years, Doctor 11, you should love the slapstick humor and just out of this world zaniness that Adams puts on the page.  Whether it be the innapropriately named Hitchikers Guide to the Galaxy trilogy (there are 5 books) or Dirk Gentley’s Holistic Detective Agency, Adams is so much in the same campy spirit of Doctor Who.  I mean, there is space travel with towels and the immortal words “Don’t Panic” – what more could you ask for?  If you are looking for the humor and just awesome camp of Doctor Who you might also really enjoy The Princess Bride by William Goldman.

Edited 6/24/2013 to add:
The Diviners by Libba Bray: For that spooky, retro New York feel.  Think Angels Take Manhattan.
Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton, for using science to recreate dinosaurs with a little Dinosaurs on a Spaceship.
172 Hours on the Moon by John Harstad because these teens go to the moon and very creepy stuff happens.
Erebros by Ursula Poznanski, where teens start playing an online game and can’t stop. Reminiscent of The Bells of Saint John episode.
The Catastrophic History of You & Me by Jess Rothenberg.  The relationship and being trapped in limbo reminds me of  both Amy’s Choice and The Girl Who Waited.

Basically, these books are Fantastic! (And so am I LOL – Doctor 9 fans totally get that)

Now it’s your turn, what YA books do you have on your Doctor Who list and why?


  1. An excellent list! Thank you!
    (I'm so glad someone else likes the 9th Doctor best! I feel like I have to hide in shame because Tennant isn't my favorite! Though it's hard not to love David Tennant when he's fighting the Dark in the library.)

  2. As a Whovian, I love your idea with this post. I'm going to pick up some of these to read. With this being the 50th anniversary year, I can't imagine a better time to celebrate the Doctor. I know there are some novels and short stories that have been published to coincide with the anniversary, so that may also be something to add to your list.
    Everyone has their favorite Doctor (4th for me!), but they all seem to grow on you as you watch. I imagine there will be much discussion this fall/winter as Matt Smith says goodbye and the 12th Doctor is revealed. Now, a question that will bring up lots of heated debate–who is your favorite companion?

  3. I can't wait to find out who replaces Matt Smith!

    Neil Gaiman's new adult book The Ocean at the End of the Lane (my first solid prediction for next year's Alex list), also has an awesome very British supernaturally creepy vibe. Some of his Sandman stories weave in characters from different time periods…his episode The Doctor's Wife is one of my favorites – so yes – Read all of the Gaiman!

  4. Love the Library! And thought I would die when Doctor 11 ripped the last page out of a book because he hates endings LOL.

  5. I would have said Rose for a long time, but I really love several things about Amelia Pond (including her name, just to reveal my shallow side)
    1) I liked that her and the Doctor were such amazing friends and she still had her relationship with Rory. I love the whole man (alien really) and woman can be friends aspect.
    2) I thought her story arc was really richly developed and tied together so well.
    3) I loved her accent (yes, more shallowness from Karen).

    I hated Donna at first but even she grew on me. I guess Martha was the least effective/compelling to me. I have only just now started with Clara.

  6. I, too, am waiting to see who will play the new Doctor and what this one's personality will be like. I like that fans are discussing having Ron Weasley be the new Doctor (a ginger!) – I would love that really. And yes, I know the actor playing Ron Weasley has a real name, Rupert Grint, but I am that girl who still calls SMG Buffy. The Mr tells me all the time that actors hate me 🙂

  7. Christine Edison says:

    This list is a great idea! I've been a Doctor Who fan for a long time (my favorite is the 4th) and get a kick out of people discovering the Doctor's adventures for the first time. The more recent episodes have changed the Who formula with better special effects, really clever scripts, and complex characters, but I loved watching older episodes late night on Sundays and chuckling at the cheesy special effects and odd costumes, like when someone was attacked by an inflatable plastic chair.

    As to who should play the next Doctor, I'm wondering about the wrinkle introduced in the last episode of the 7th season and how that will affect the show.

    Connie Willis has some interesting takes on time travel in Doomsday Book, Blackout and All Clear as well as in the story “Fire Watch,” which reminded me of the Doctor's trips to wartime London. And Ready Player One is a giant mystery which takes place in a virtual universe called The Oasis, which reminds me of some of the Doctor's stories in virtual worlds like “The God Complex.” Poul Anderson and Andre Norton have both written series about time travel that might be worth a look for Whovians. But there are also a ton of Who novelizations out there — don't forget those!

  8. How could I have forgotten Connie Willis? Egad! You know what else would be interesting? Pastwatch: The Redemption of Christopher Columbus by Orson Scott Card (though not technically YA).

    I have not read any Doctor Who tie in books, but I should. When I was STNG obsessed I read all those.

  9. As I read your post and the comments,every time I thought of the perfect book to add to the list.. you, or others, included it. This is a catalog of most of my favorite reading of many years. I am with you Karen as to my favorite Doctor. I have another possibility that is old and maybe offbase. The novel Crazy Time by Kate Wilhelm about a woman who thinks she is losing her mind because someone she can't see keeps trying to get her to PAY ATTENTION. It is funny (probably out of print and not YA) but the confusing attempts to communicate across dimensions recalls some of the storylines of the Amelia Pond episodes.
    What a great summer of reading someone will have if they follow your suggestions.

  10. Hi Cordelia,
    I have not heard of Crazy Time, but it sounds interesting. I adore Amelia Pond. If I was just now birthing my girls I would name one of them Amelia Pond. I would try to do it now but I think they would object, those crazy kids. I am so loving this list and hearing everyone's suggestions. Thank you for your comment. Karen

  11. Across the Universe by Beth Revis
    These Broken Stars by Kaufman

  12. Ninth is my Doctor.

  13. Ninth is my Doctor.


  1. […] that also made my list, but also more suggestions on this list at Teen Librarian Toolbox and a follow up list.   […]

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