Finished Synthesis last weekend. Most reviews in this thread seem quite positive - I'm not sure that applies for me and I ended up voting "average". Don't get me wrong, I think the story premise was good and the Sentry civilization was depicted quite well. White-Blue and the others seemed like well-rounded characters from the start and I quite enjoyed the world-building, which for me is THE selling point of the Titan series and why I so enjoyed most of the previous works in the series. Admittedly, my expecatations for Synthesis might have been a bit too high.
The point where Sythesis didn't really work for me is how the established characters were handled. It seemed to me that everyone - even Troi - seemed much more hostile than I remembered. I don't remember it being adressed specifically as being a result of the events of Destiny, but I felt that the openhearted "exploration of exploration's sake" and the enjoyment of that by the crew in the previous novels had been lost. With some characters, like Keru and Vale with their backgrounds in security, I can understand it, but Riker and Troi have always been depicted as more open to new ideas and the IDIC idea. I found their reactions to both the avatar and the Sentries a bit out-of-character.
Anyway, a bit of mixed basket for me.
This actually sums up my thoughts pretty well. It's starting to seem like absolutely no one ever has any fun on Titan. It's all about having an initially hostile reaction to something, coming to understand it through difficult moral decisions that everyone has to think really hard about, and then capping it off with some kind of morally ambiguous ending that leaves everyone bittersweet. I'd really like, just once, for this series to have a Q&A or a Unity or an Unworthy or a The Sundered, or something similar - a book that makes me think "gee, that seems like a ship I'd like to serve on!"
Taking Wing wasn't even really about the Titan crew very much; it introduced them, but they didn't have anything to do with the story, so it doesn't really count for me. Then, the next three books in a row all involved a whole planet being eaten or wiped out or in danger, or something, and were all about no-win situations and making the best of things. Sword of Damocles also killed the romance between Jaza and Vale, which was fun, and began the incredible Riker baby drama thing.
In Destiny, out of the four ships, Titan was the storyline focused on emotional drama and not much else. Then, OaTS started out kind of light but soon became another emotionally draining tale of tears and renewal and Hard Lessons Learned. And then now, we finally have a book that takes the emphasis off of the characters going through Totally Serious Shit, but instead just ends up making them all paranoid and angry about absolutely everything.
The avatar shows up. Everyone is worried and angry. Then they think they might be prejudiced. Which makes everyone worried and reflective. Then they come to accept her, just to have her ripped away. Which makes everyone sad, and reflective. What could've been a seriously cool story was just morose.
This book had great ideas, and Swallow has a real way with action sequences. The back half of this book was just about the most exciting action sequence this side of Destiny, and was a definite pleasure to read. I also loved Tuvok's away team tromping around the damaged firstgen AI very much. There's some neat stuff in this book.
And for the record, I actually think most of the Titan books so far have been outstanding; I don't want it to seem otherwise. CLB's two entries and SoD are three of my favorite Trek books, and this one for the most part wasn't bad either. But could the next Titan book please have someone, like, happy at the end of it, without having to earn it through a complete psychological deconstruction and rebuilding of their entire worldview? Or, in lieu of that, someone at least apparently enjoying their job for more than a chapter or two? I'd like that.