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on 7 July 2011
The third novella focussing on the characters in the alternate timeline set up in JJ Abrams' 2009 film sees the cadets reaching the end of their first year at the Academy. If the stress of exams wasn't enough, Kirk is having black-outs, and some pretty strong allegations aimed at him.
This is certainly the best of the books in the Academy series so far. The characters come across as more mature and the setting much more closely resembles a real university, with the campus full of love and drinking rather than fighting and tradition. That said, there are some silly things like the concept of 'dead week' - a week dedicated to pranking - which felt like a bit of unnecessary padding.
The strength of this book is in the relationships between the characters - the plot seeming to take second place and ultimately being a bit on the bland side. Kirk and Bones' friendship is shown to be developing well, and each of them gain a love interest - a subject which is given a slightly more realistic approach than in the previous books. The book also introduces Pavel Chekov, and gives him much more attention than he got in the film, which I really enjoyed.
Overall I think this could have made it as a full length novel rather than this format - expand the plot and the detail a little and it would have had much more appeal. As it is the style and presentation of this is just a little on the childish side to be appropriate for the teenage market it is apparently aimed at. Still, the best in the series so far.
on 7 March 2013
"The Gemini Agent" is Rick Barba's 2nd novel set within JJ Abrams' alternative version of Star Trek. The plot once again is mainly set within Starfleet Academy itself as the cadets begin their preparations for the Zeta mission, an opportunity for them to go out into space on a starship and take on various officer roles in a fictional assignment. Kirk, as expected is hoping to take on a captain's role, but his chances are dealt a blow when he suffers from a health scare involving blacking out for several hours. Before long Kirk is accused of committing various inappropriate and illegal acts during the blackout period and his very place at the Academy becomes under threat. So together with McCoy, Uhura and the usual gang of friends he tries to find a way to prove his innocence.
As with the other Starfleet Academy novels this book is aimed at the Young Adult market so the plot does move along at quite a fast pace and isn't the most complex of plot lines. It was very obvious who the "villain" is and therefore there wasn't any real sense of surprise or curiosity as I read the book. I still found it to be a fun and enjoyable adventure but it was probably the most simplistic mystery story out of all the books in this series so far.
The characters came across in a manner that did tie in with how they appeared within the movie which is one of the continually good aspects of this series. In addition, I appreciated how Barba has tried to use the book to further develop the characters beyond what we have seen on the screen and in other books. For example, whilst the interactions between Spock and Uhura weren't critical to the plotline they did enable Barba to show the way in which their relationship was continuing to grow and develop.
Overall, this was another solidly enjoyable Star Trek novel aimed at the teenage fans of the JJ Abrams movie. Whilst it was rather an obvious plot, fans of the series will probably appreciate the way in which the book focused on developing the characters and their various relationships.
on 19 August 2012
The story is relatively engaging but the writing is poor. In particular it is mostly dialog, limited descriptive text, limited mood, limited engagement for the reader. The whole book is a serious of "dialog", Kirk said. "Dialog", McCoy replied. "Dialog" Uhura said.