I don't think this crew's emotional dynamic relies on memories of other people at all. There's a lot more to it than "pretend this is Shatner", "pretend this is Nimoy" etc.
Where do they go? Anywhere. That's the fun of this new timeline. Anything can happen. Anyone can die. This isn't "scenes before TOS" - it's a new beginning.
The big problem with those novels is that NOTHING CHANGES. There is zero risk to the main cast, and we all know their fates. They can't even learn anything especially new that will change their outlook on life.
That's why my favourte part of the novelverse is the post-Nemesis 24th century stuff, where change both personal and to the rest of the galaxy can and does happen.
This reset is really the only way we can do anything truly meaningful with the original characters.
I'm sorry but I don't buy this. One of the biggest problems was how everything stayed the same. Why shouldn't they just make a new universe with no convoluted plots to tie it with the already known one? They should've just severed all ties with the old one and explain offscreen or something that it was a mirror universe to appease the fanboys that the old one exists, which keeps the new universe consistent with the old one without trying to make awful plots to connect the two. Additionally, the characters suffer the same problem. Regarding the lines, one or two popular lines are okay, but it was overkill and told me they're trying, albeit poorly, to try to make these the same characters. Lastly, they depend too much on "destiny" to make this like the old stuff, but they end up making the movie worse. Spock and Kirk are good friends in the old universe. Spock and Kirk start off hating each other in the new one, which seems natural given their irritable personalities. But they have to become friends immediately because Old Spock told them to do so. So then they become faux-friends instead of any building up of true friendship. Why not build up the relationship over several movies? Would stink of less fakeness. Or why does Kirk have to be promoted (commissioned?) to captain? Kirk was the captain in the old series so apparently he has to be captain in this movie. Why not have the next movie years later when Kirk is further along in his career? He became an admiral offscreen in The Motion Picture
so why does he have to become captain onscreen in this movie? In the mirror universe episodes not everyone has the same role as the regular universe so why does everyone have to end up the same in this one? Why does Kirk have to be captain and him and Spock friends? Making these things so made the movie lose organic feel and made it too unbelievable because they didn't move enough away from the previous universe and they poorly forced things things through.