Allons-y! A Time Lord's Guide to Great "Doctor Who" Read-Alikes

Librarian Christopher Lassen presents a roundup of titles for tween and teen die-hard and soon-to-be Doctor Who fans.
What exists outside of our own backyard? Is there life on other planets or dimensions that we don’t know about? What if a wisecracking alien in human form dropped into your life in a blue telephone box and whisked you away to places unknown for life-altering adventures? Does the sound of a theremin make you want to explore the outer reaches of time and space? Fans, both young and old, have answered these questions with a resounding "Yes!"—as evidenced by the large and devoted fandom of Doctor Who, BBC’s iconic science fiction series that has been on the air since 1963. The newest version of the show, currently wrapping up its ninth season, is beloved in the hearts of fans from all over the globe. The show’s mix of outer space adventure, monsters, and humor makes it particularly appealing to tweens and teens. Whether you're a newbie who doesn't know your Daleks from your TARDIS or a longtime fan polishing up your sonic screwdriver, you'll find a wealth of excellent read-alikes for die-hard and soon-to-be Doctor Who fans. Come on in and start reading; this list is bigger on the inside.

For Budding Wholigans: Middle Grade Read-alikes

Infinity RingDashner, James. A Mutiny In Time. 2012.  ISBN 9780545386968. ————. The Iron Empire. 2014. ISBN 9780545387026. de la Peña, Matt. Curse of the Ancients. 2013. ISBN 9780545386999 ————. Eternity. 2014. ISBN 9780545665353. Kirby, Matthew J. Cave of Wonders. 2013. ISBN 9780545387002. McMann, Lisa. The Trap Door. 2013. ISBN 9780545386982. Nielsen, Jennifer. Behind Enemy Lines. 2013. ISBN 9780545387019. Ryan, Carrie. Divide & Conquer. 2012. ISBN 9780545386975. ea. vol.: (Infinity Ring). Scholastic. Gr 4 Up–The SQ, a nefarious secret society, has traveled throughout history and drastically altered what we know of society. Through the help of their parents, Daq, Sera, and Riq develop a time machine that takes them through history and space to change what the SQ has wrought. This multi-platform series will appeal to those kids who respond to the Doctor’s adventures with real-life historical figures like Vincent Van Gogh, William Shakespeare, and Agatha Christie. CoralineGaiman, Neil. Coraline. illus. by Dave McKean. HarperCollins. 2002. ISBN 9780380807345. Gr 4 Up–Gaiman served as a writer for several popular Doctor Who episodes, including "The Doctor's Wife" and "Nightmare in Silver." His tale of a young girl who travels to another dimension where she meets the super creepy “Other Mother” is the perfect choice for young Whovians. Coraline embraces this new world at first, but soon realizes that not everything is what it seems. The girl’s journey reflects that of many of the Doctor’s companions. The Doctor encounters people that feel that their lives on Earth are ho-hum and are looking for some excitement. After the initial shock and awe, they soon realize the grass isn’t always greener on the other side. “The Other Mother” hearkens to Doctor Who monsters, such as The Weeping Angels and the Cyber Men. FoundHaddix, Margaret Peterson. Caught. 2012. ————. Found. 2008. ISBN 9781416954170. ————. Redeemed. 2015. ISBN 9781442497566. ————. Revealed. 2014. ISBN 9781416989868. ————. Risked. 2013. ISBN 9781416989844. ————. Sabotaged. 2010. ISBN 9781416954255. ————. Sent. 2009. ISBN 9781416954224. ————. Torn. 2011. ISBN 9781416989806. ea. vol.: (The Missing). S. & S. Gr 5 Up–Jonah has always known he’s different and doesn’t quite fit in. He’s the only adopted child in his family and struggles with his identity. He finds out through a series of events that he is the child of an important figure in history and has been sent forward in time by an evil group of time travelers and reborn as a child in the 21st century. He soon realizes that he is not the only one. Along with his sister and his friend, Jonah travels through a “time hollow” to help return other kids in this situation to their rightful place in time. The premise of this popular series reads like an epic adventure of the Doctor’s, making this a perfect choice for fans ”wibbily, wobbly, timey-wimey stuff.” PhantomJuster, Norton. The Phantom Tollbooth. illus. by Jules Feiffer. Random. reprint edition. 1988. ISBN 9780394820378. Gr 5 Up–Milo stumbles into a magical tollbooth and is transported to the Kingdom of Wisdom where he is soon on an adventure to rescue Princess Rhyme and Princess Reason from their dastardly fate. Fans of Doctor Who will see plenty of parallels between their favorite show and Juster’s classic story. The tollbooth and the TARDIS (The Doctor’s preferred method of transportation) are quite similar and Juster’s exquisite wordplay mirrors the Doctor’s speech patterns. WrinkleLarson, Hope, adapt. A Wrinkle in Time: The Graphic Novel. illus. by adaptor First Second. 2012. ISBN 9781250056948. L’Engle, Madeleine. A Wrinkle in Time. Farrar. 1963. Gr 4 Up–L’Engle’s classic Newbery medal–winning story tackles many of the same questions as Doctor Who. The fight between good and evil, light and dark, and the search for one’s place in the world are all recurring themes in the Doctor’s universe. Meg’s search for her father throughout time and other worlds is very similar to a popular story line regarding Rory and Amy Pond, two of the Doctor’s most recent and well-known traveling companions. Young readers will delight in the similarities and hope for the same happy ending. Larson’s graphic novel version of the classic novel with its cool blue palette evokes the dark tones of space where the Doctor travels.   Mass, Wendy. 11 Birthdays. 2009. ISBN 9780545052399.11birthdays ————. Graceful. 2015. ISBN 9780545773133. ————. The Last Present. 2013. ISBN 9780545310161. ————. 13 Gifts. 2011. ISBN 9780545310031. ————. 12 Finally. 2010. ISBN 9780545052436. ea. vol.: (Willow Falls). Scholastic. Gr 4 Up–Mass’s contemporary time travel series will be refreshing to those young fans who want the excitement of the Doctor’s adventures but with not as much science fiction. Amanda and Leo are best friends who share the same birthday. When they have a disagreement, Amanda’s day is ruined and she wakes up the next day to realize that she is living the same day over again with the opportunity to change her actions to help make things better. Each book in the series focuses on a different character in the same small town. The opportunity to change things in your past and present for a better future is a big theme in many of the Doctor’s adventures and young readers will definitely respond to it. Osborne, Mary Pope. “The Magic Tree House” series. Random. 1992-Present. Gr 2 Up–Jack and Annie are sent back in time through a magical treehouse by Morgan Le Fay, the popular sorceress from the King Arthur legend, to help rescue her from a magical spell. This is just one of the many missions these two kids go on in their adventures through time and (in some cases) space. These are perfect for kids at the younger end of the fanbase. Much like the Doctor, Jack and Annie encounter real life historical figures and help right the wrongs in history. When You Reach NMeStead, Rebecca. When You Reach Me. Random/Wendy Lamb Bks. 2009. ISBN 9780375850868. Gr 4 Up–New York City in the 1970s comes alive in Stead’s Newbery medal–winning novel that recalls many of the themes in L’Engle’s A Wrinkle in Time. Miranda is a young girl who lives with her single mother. She’s obsessed with time travel and a homeless man in her neighborhood. Many young fans of “Doctor Who”,whether it be fan fiction, cosplay, or imaginative play, will see bits of themselves in Miranda. HiloWinick, Judd. Hilo: The Boy Who Crashed To Earth. Random. 2015. ISBN 9780385386173. Gr 4 Up–D.J. and his best friend Gina see a strange being fall out of the sky. That strange being is Hilo, an alien from another planet/dimension who is fascinated with the wonders that Earth offers. Hilo and his new friends fight beasties from another dimension while also becoming closer friends in the process. Hilo’s obsession with Earth objects and concepts reflect The Doctor’s obsession with everything our blue planet has to offer. The relationship between D.J, Gina, and Hilo is very similar to that of The Doctor and his many companions.

For the Advanced Time Lord: YA Picks

Radiant DaysHand, Elizabeth. Radiant Days. Viking. 2012. ISBN 9780670011353. Gr 9 Up–This literary novel focuses on Merle, a college-bound student from Appalachia who somehow travels back in time and encounters the famous poet/artist Arthur Rimbaud. Arthur travels forward in time as well as interacts with Merle in the present day. From one another, they become better artists and deal with the issues in their lives. Besides the time travel aspects, this book truly highlights one recurring theme throughout the Doctor Who cannon: how The Doctor helps those around him change their lives for the better. PlanesRunnerMcDonald, Ian. Be My Enemy. 2012. ISBN 9781616146788. ————. Empress of the Sun. 2014. ISBN 9781616148652. ————. Planesrunner. 2011. ISBN 9781616145415. ea. vol.: (Everness). Pyr. Gr 10 Up–Everett’s father is a visionary scientist who has been kidnapped by the dark forces of the Ten Known Worlds who are threatened by his work. Everett goes in search of his father through time and space and finds himself in possession of a highly valuable map of all of the parallel Earths known as the Infundibulum. Everett encounters space pirates who aid him on his journey to find his father and save the universe. This is high tech fantasy and space opera for teen readers at its finest. Those Doctor Who fans who enjoy all of the TARDIS’s gadgets and the various multi-syllabic space baddies will devour this series. I_Am_Number_Four_CoverLore, Pittacus. The Fall of Five. 2013. ISBN 9780061974632. ————. The Fate of Ten. 2015. ISBN 9780062194732. ————. I Am Number Four. 2010. ISBN 9780061969577. ————. The Power of Six. 2011. ISBN 9780061974571. ————. The Revenge of Seven. 2014. ISBN 9780062194732. ————. The Rise of Nine. 2012. ISBN 9780061974601. ea. vol.: (I Am Number Four). HarperCollins. Gr 9 Up–John Smith seems like your typical 15-year-old teen who is on the run from a group of homicidal aliens hellbent on killing him. John is, in fact, an alien with special powers and his number is up. He joins forces with the other children of Lore to fight the Mogadorians and hopefully save himself. John’s journey reflects The Doctor’s fate as the last of his kind on the run through space and time from those who would like nothing more than to see him dead. The Mogadorians hearken to the Daleks and the Cyber Men, famous archnemeses of The Doctor who seek out world domination. Nix, Garth. A Confusion of Princes. HarperCollins. 2012. cobnfusion of princesISBN 9780060096960. Gr 9 Up–Khemri is a young prince in a land full of princes. This is quite dangerous because every prince is hoping to become the Emperor—and there can only be one. They all come from a highly evolved society that is well respected and feared amongs many in the universe. Khemri travels through space and time on a ship with a companion in order to escape the wrath of his fellow princes. Much of the story and the details directly reflect on the origin story of The Doctor (himself a Time Lord coming from Gallifrey, his well-respected yet feared home planet). Lovers of the show will devour this and find Nix’s epic stand-alone space opera comforting and familiar yet never derivative. dodgerPratchett, Terry. Dodger. HarperCollins. 2012. ISBN 9780062009517. Gr 9 Up–Terry Pratchett and Doctor Who go hand-in-hand. They are both British and share much of the same sly humor. Here, Dodger is a young man who gets involved with many of Victorian London’s most well-known people including Benjamin Disraeli, Charles Dickens, and even the Queen herself. His presence proves to be useful and helps change the course of history, mostly for the good. Many of The Doctor’s adventures feature alternative history and showcase how he and his companions help form events that we’ve all become familiar with. Those who revel in the show’s “Britishness” as well as the spot-on portrayal of various historical figures will enjoy this cheeky offering. all our yesterdaysTerrill, Cristin. All Our Yesterdays. Disney-Hyperion. 2013. ISBN 9781423185246. Gr 7 Up–If you could go back in time and kill the person responsible for major world disasters, would you do so? What if that person turned out to be the one you love? This is the dilemma Marina/Em must face. A time travel device forever alters history in ways that can prove to be catastrophic for all mankind. In addition to traveling through time and space, this story mirrors The Doctor’s relationship with his true love, River Song. They travel in time together but are on opposite paths. One knows everything, while the other only knows events as they happen. Readers will absolutely love the parallels and will embrace this heart-stopping story.

Comics Featuring The Doctor

doctor_who_10_1Abadzis, Nick.illus. by Elena Casagrande. Doctor Who: The Tenth Doctor Vol. 1: Revolutions of Terror. Titan Comics. 2015. ISBN 9781782761730. Ewing, Al & Williams, Rob. Doctor Who: The Eleventh Doctor Volume 1: After Life. illus. by Boo Cook & Fraser Simon. Titan Comics. 2015. ISBN 9781782761747. Morrison, Robbie. Doctor Who: The Twelfth Doctor Vol. 1: Terrorformer. illus. by Dave Taylor.  Titan Comics. 2015. ISBN 9781782761778. Gr 7 Up–Comics book readers LOVE Doctor Who. Cosplayers inspired by the show are a constant presence at many conventions across the country. It only makes sense for The Doctor to be immortalized in comic form. These three volumes collect the first five to six issues of the three most recent incarnations of The Doctor. The stories and companions are not affiliated with the show, though the stories align with the canon. Thankfully, none of the wit or action is lost in translation. Each Doctor is written and illustrated by a different team, giving each Doctor a different feel and look much like in the show. Readers will enjoy reading these adventures of The Tenth Doctor (David Tennant), The Eleventh Doctor (Matt Smith), and The Twelfth Doctor (Peter Capaldi). Various. Doctor Who: The Eleventh Doctor Archives Omnibus: Volume One. Titan Comics. ISBN 9781782767688. ————. Doctor Who: The Tenth Doctor Archives Omnibus: Volume One. Titan Comics. 2015. ISBN 9781782767701. Gr 7 Up–These comic compendiums collect stories from the David Tennant and Matt Smith eras. Unlike the above-mentioned comics series, these stories feature the main companions from the show (Martha Jones, Donna Noble, Amy Pond, & Rory Williams) in new adventures not featured on the show. Each arc gets a different illustrator, yet they all fit with the general tone of each Doctor and the show as a whole.   Christopher Lassen is the Youth Material Selector for The New York Public Library and Brooklyn Public Library.
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I'm a librarian who has done Doctor Who programs for teens & all ages this past year... they were hugely popular! Thanks for the recommendations; I'm always looking to add to my Doctor Who readalikes. If anyone is interested in even more suggestions, here's my booklist on my library blog from earlier this year with other picks for tween and teen Whovians: (Jackaby is on my list, too, consider it very strongly seconded!!)

Posted : Dec 17, 2015 02:00

Kary H

Just checked out 3 of the YA titles for my Whovian 14-year-old daughter! Thanks!

Posted : Dec 11, 2015 01:38

Mary Z

I would add Jackaby by William Ritter, which feels like a cross between Doctor Who, Supernatural, and Sherlock (the holy trinity for many fans). I also recommend The Klaatu Diskos trilogy by Pete Hautman, especially to the Doctor Who fans who love the wibbly-wobbly, timey-wimey-ness of episodes like Blink.

Posted : Dec 10, 2015 04:29

Kiera Parrott

Great recommendations! Thanks, Mary.

Posted : Dec 10, 2015 04:29




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