The Doctor and Martha go in search of a real live dodo,
but are transported by the TARDIS to the mysterious Museum
of the Last Ones. There, in the Earth section, they discover
every extinct creature up to the present day - billions of
them, from the tiniest microbe to the biggest dinosaur - all
still alive and in suspended animation. Preservation is the
museum's only job: collecting the last of every endangered
species from all over the universe. But exhibits are going
missing. Can the Doctor solve the mystery before the curator
adds the last of the Time Lords to her collection...?
If you thought the last dodo was the First Doctor's companion
Dodo (Dorothea) Chaplet, think again - though she does get
a name check of sorts in this entertaining audio book.
Jacqueline Rayner's narrative is read by Martha Jones herself,
actress Freema Agyeman - which is entirely appropriate, since
this is very much Martha's story. As with the print
version of the book, many passages are conveyed
from the conversational first-person viewpoint of the companion,
in a style similar to that of the character's blog on MySpace.
These cutaways really get inside Martha's head. Agyeman gives
an emotive reading - I almost shed a tear at the end!
In common with Sting
of the Zygons, The Last Dodo touches
upon the issue of hunting, tying it in with that of conservation
and captivity. During the course of the story, Martha encounters
several creatures, including the eponymous dodo and a black
rhinoceros, that have become extinct or are currently endangered
as a result of humanity's activities.
Unfortunately, this abridged reading omits memorable cameo
appearances by several customers who have received stolen
goods from someone at MOTLO, including a Cruella de Vil type
collector of rare skins and an evolutionary scientist desperate
not to be proven wrong. It was also sadly impossible in the
audio medium to include the pages from the guidebook that
Martha consults, The I-Spyder Book of Earth Creatures,
which reinforced the original novel's moral message.
Unusually for this series of books, there are no child characters,
though I'm sure the lovable dodo will more than make up for
that in terms of appealing to younger fans.
The plot structure is somewhat uneven and episodic, starting
off as a mystery surrounding missing animals, which then gives
way to another calamity and then an even greater one, threatening
the entire Earth. However, this has actually been improved
to an extent by the omission of the aforementioned receivers
of stolen goods.
There's also a rather too miraculous "TARDIS saves the day"
moment (like the one in Carnival
of Monsters) at the end. All in all, though,
this lively listen couldn't be farther from being as dead
as a dodo.