Top critical review
Marginally better than "To Brave the Storm"...
on 14 September 2013
*** This review will contain spoilers ***
While a minor improvement over the rather meagre conclusion to The Romulan War, I must admit this book left me a cold for a number of reasons. My apologies if this comes across as a rather damning review, but this book just didn't do it for me, and I'd like to explain why.
Chiefly because of the encyclopaedia-esque way To Brave the Storm stripped the story and characters of any emotion or development, whilst simultaneously taking massive jumps across a 5 year period, I feel totally disconnected from the characters I spent four years watching on TV.
In the same way that the crew never felt like "my" crew in These Are The Voyages, I also feel like I don't know who the crew are in this story. What motivates them? What directions are their lives taking? The characters are so hollow and bland now that I don't feel their individual voices shone through - they all spend a fair amount of time spouting a lot of do-gooder rhetoric about the Federation though. Special mention goes to Phlox and Mayweather, who were criminally underused almost to the extent of the previous story; yet Orion temptresses and T'Pol's Andorian first officer are bizarrely fleshed out. The rest of the new characters making up the crews of Endeavour and Pioneer are, unfortunately, entirely interchangeable and forgettable.
Another major bugbear of this story for me is just how much of it was unoriginal and recycled from various other Trek sources. If it wasn't the antagonists of a dodgy season 4 episode conveniently joining forces with the antagonist from a forgettable season 1 episode, it was the wormhole from The Motion Picture dumping a ship into a gas giant's atmosphere (Sleeping Dogs/ DS9's Starship Down - take your pick) - the chances of such a thing happening are infinitesimal, by the way - only for a Deus Ex Machina discovery to lead to a last minute get out of jail free card for the heroes (possibly borrowed from Corp of Engineers' Wildfire part 2). Meanwhile, there's a watered down take on the politics of the new Federation, which unfortunately pales in comparison when compared to Articles of the Federation.
References to a Kirk and a Paris being conveniently placed at the forefront of the action had me rolling my eyes. Dax had already been introduced in the previous book so I'm willing to overlook that one.
Also, I felt the first few chapters clobbered me over the head with in-depth descriptions of the new ships and uniforms. Especially when the Columbia class was being intimately described to me more than once!
There's also a niggle at the back of my mind regarding a post the author made on the Trek BBS when he announced he was writing this book: He admitted he hadn't had much time for Enterprise when it was on and was going back to give it a fair chance in order to prepare for this story. To me, the end result is something that tried too hard to convince me it knew and relished the source material as well as trying to tying it into the Trek Universe as a whole and picking up from the lacklustre previous novel.
Unfortunately, to me at least, I believe the biggest flaw of the book was it tried too hard to do too many things, and it ended on a totally anti-climactic cliffhanger. Hopefully, the follow-up to A Choice of Futures will have tighter focus and properly re-introduce us to the crew we spent four years watching, and get us acquainted to the new characters the same way SD Perry managed with the DS9 relaunch Avatar duology.