In Review: Star Trek: Voyager: Atonement

Only for the hard core fan and not a new reader.

Star Trek: Voyager: Atonement by Kirsten Beyer

Published by Simon and Schuster, August 25, 2015. Paperback of 386 pages at $7.99.

The cover: Admiral Kathryn Janeway is standing in what appears to a cell of some kind. Within the cramped space she looks resolute, not angry. This goes in line with the title of the novel, as if her constitution is linked to her desire to make up for past sins. Having the image be primarily in blue gives it a very maudlin tone, enhancing her stare at the reader. This  cover was designed by Alan Dingman and it’s what got me to pick this book up. This would make a great poster. Overall grade: A+ 

The premise: From the back cover, “Admiral Kathryn Janeway must face a tribunal determined to execute her for supposed crimes committed during the U.S.S. Voyager’s maiden trek through the Delta Quadrant. But Captain Chakotay knows that the Kinara, several species now allied against the Full Circle fleet, are not all they appear to be. The Confederacy of Worlds of the First Quadrant — a pact that Chakotay cannot trust — is his only hope for unraveling the Kinara’s true agenda and rescuing Admiral Janeway. Meanwhile, Seven and Tom Paris are forced to betray the trust of their superiors, as a desperate bid unfolds to reveal the lengths to which a fellow officer has gone in the name of protecting the Federation from the legendary Caeliar…” I haven’t read a Voyager book in a while, so I hope I’m not completely lost with this. I’ve very familiar with the crew’s television episodes and the first few years of their book adventures. This sounds intriguing; hopefully it’s not too dependent on previous books. Overall grade: B+

The characters: Janeway is a great captain and seeing her essentially sacrificing herself for the errors Voyager made in the Delta Quadrant as it tried to make its way home is a great way to show the honor of this character. However, the solution to her public trial is quick, and soon involved in taking Voyager somewhere, which leads to taking over the ship. Chakotay doesn’t do much in this book but allow Janeway to make decisions, which he follows. He wasn’t of much use. Harry Kim has one major scene close to the end of the book, which was good, but otherwise he’s just a button pusher on the bridge. The Doctor is a major part of the novel as he’s trying to regain lost memories. The source of his loss is revealed, and the decision he makes in regards to these missing moments is decent. Reginald Barclay is also aboard, but does less than Kim. Seven of Nine is involved in the most interesting plot, as a doctor is forcing her and other former Borg to undergo a specific treatment to test for something important. She believes his testing to be wrong and enlists Tom Paris to help her out. His inclusion into her story was clever and he added some nice espionage into the tale. The big villain of the book, and there are several, is Lsia. She is one of a race that can take over people’s bodies and can hop into others when the host dies; sort of an invasive Trill that overwrites the identity of that person, not living jointly with the individual. I was tired of this character quickly who does the “We are not really your enemies” one too many times, which left no surprises for her or her people. I love the Voyager cast, but too many did too little, as what happened in some episodes. Overall grade: B

The settings: Voyager is the main setting, as that’s where two of the story lines are set, with the other — the one involving Seven and Tom — were in several locations, with a fair amount of action on earth. It was nice to have much of the action on the ship, as this is what the series was all about, and I liked the running about in this familiar setting. However, earth was much more interesting because it involved several scenes at an embassy and at Federation Headquarters. I liked visiting these settings and what occurred there. Overall grade: A

The action: Janeway’s story was very predictable after she was released, the Doctor’s story was psychological and held no real threat (and that’s a core problem with the character of the Doctor, since, as a piece of technology, he can always be rebooted or an upload can occur), but Seven’s story was very exciting. The taking of the ship in the last third of the book was pretty rote stuff, and the action in space the same. Only the Seven story held any tension. Overall grade: C+

The conclusion: As with the action, Janeway’s was “been there, done that,” the Doctor’s was meh, and the Seven conclusion was solid. A very mixed ending to these tales. That said, the codas after all the story’s conclusion, which finds certain characters making peace or changes in their lives left me a little misty eyed — Beyer knew exactly what buttons to push to move me. Overall grade: B-

The final line: I went into this not knowing this was the third book in a trilogy. Knowing that, I would have picked up the previous two books. I found myself getting lost with all the aliens encountered/mentioned and the politicking going on. By the last third of the book, I wasn’t lost, but two of the stories just suffered from over familiarity to previously told tales. Not horrible, but confusing if the previous books haven’t been read. Only for the hard core fan and not a new reader. Overall grade: B

Patrick Hayes was a contributor to the Comic Buyer's Guide for several years with "It's Bound to Happen!" and he's reviewed comics for TrekWeb and TrekCore. He's taught 8th graders English for 20 years and has taught high school English for five years and counting. He reads everything as often as he can, when not grading papers or looking up Star Trek, Star Wars, or Indiana Jones items online.
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