Top critical review
3 people found this helpful
on 11 July 2008
I'm not really sure how to review this book. I think it's been the best so far, but in my opinion, it isn't without some pretty huge flaws.
First off, the book runs at just short of 400 pages, which I'm sure could've been trimmed down somewhat by removing a lot of the extraneous conversations and description that ultimately don't matter. Having said this, the first 80 or so pages are actually quite enjoyable. As other reviewers have noted, we're no longer being forcefed the idea that it's The Most Diverse Crew In Starfleet, which has *really* done a lot for helping things along. Athough you can argue the book is relatively slow moving, I found it quite enjoyable to read about the crew interacting and going about their everyday business.
I'm not sure whether it's good or bad, but I think over the course of four books we've now been introduced to well over a sixth of the crew - which is frankly, a lot of characters to remember, and although it's good to get that sense of missions not revolving round three or four key personnel, with the odd redshirt for emotional impact, it's slightly detrimental to getting to know any one character too well.
Established characters, in particular Captain Riker and Commander Tuvok, serve little to no purpose in the book, while Troi has no real character development. I noticed Alyssa Ogawa (among others) was completely absent from this tale.
Luckily, characters like Cadet Dakal and Jaza Najem get a bit of well deserved time in the limelight, and we're really given an opportunity to see how The Most Diverse Crew In Starfleet interacts. I especially liked the gentle nod to New Frontier for incorporating a Brikar scientist.
I have got point out though, that it's quite obvious that there's a fatal flaw in the command structure of Titan, with Riker and Troi both coming under scrutiny from Vale - who, going by this novel, seems to be a much more experienced and objective commander. Personally, I'm surprised there hasn't already been a mutiny if that's how the ship is being run.
The story itself, I've got to admit, got pretty confusing in parts. My heart sank when I realised there was an element of time travel to this story, and to be honest, the whole story involving Modan, Jaza, the crew of Charon and the eventual resolution went a bit beyond my understanding for a "relaxing read". I love my Trek-Tech as much as the next person, but I don't want to have to have an in-depth knowledge of interdimensional temporal mechanics in order to fully understand the book. It's easy to muddle through to the end, but it did bug me I wasn't totally grasping what was going on without re-reading entire chapters.
Another bugbear of this story is the whole issue of the Prime Directive. Riker's grasp of it seems to be flimsy at best. As I understand it, Starfleet are supposed to die rather than break it. In this case, Riker's first choice is to contaminate a culture in order to find a way round it... which confused me.
All in all, I much preferred the level of interaction and the "day-to-day"ness of being on a long term research vessel, and the smaller focus on the fact that it's The Most Diverse Crew In Starfleet, but the technobabble and time travel elements were a bit of a letdown. Definitely the best in the series so far.