As for the new characters, I LOVED the story about O'Donnell and Fife. I loved how, at the beginning of the book, I kept thinking "What is up with O'Donnell? How could someone be so incompetent?" and by the end of the book my attitude had completely changed around. I liked how O'Donnell handled Fife at the end and very, very much look forward to seeing how the relationship between those two continues to develop.
Same here. This part of the story actually made me think of Equinox
and how the relationships between Ransom and Burke and Janeway and Chakotay fell apart in the face of a crisis. I also think that making both O'Donell and Fife humans helped, as it truly allowed a focus on them as people rather than as representatives of different cultures, as we've often seen when opinions differ because of "alien" cultural values.
The resolution of this arc for me was Star Trek at its finest: a conflict ultimately resolved without weapons and people coming together with hope for a better future despite their differences.
The above is also part of what I liked most about this story: it helped flesh out the other ships in the fleet a little, as the previous novel focused mostly on the crews of Voyager
may take center stage, but we also get to look aboard Achilles
and get to know Esquiline
's captain. It helps put some dimension on the storyline as a whole and I much appreciated that.
Another "above average" from me.