I'm sorry, but I didn't enjoy this one at all.
Spoilers may follow, but it's a spoiler thread, so you've been warned.
The characterization of all
the regular characters seemed off to me, and unfortunately none of the new characters drew my interest. Tikolo at least had an interesting backstory, but the whole "love triangle" subplot was painful to read. Vandella and O'Meara were both totally bland, and were pretty much interchangeable anyway.
And when did our heroes get so bloodthirsty? I was very surprised when I found out the landing party had their phasers set to kill during the firefights with the Romulans. It just seemed out of character. And Scotty seemed quite eager to destroy the Ton'bey
at one point, too. I think there was at least one other example of an increased level of aggression, but I forget what is was at the moment.
I found a lot of the dialogue cringeworthy as well. A lot of it didn't sound like how someone would actually speak. There were a lot of instances also where a given character would say something that I just couldn't imagine coming out of their mouth (this also relates back to the characterization issues). Kirk's line "Fire at will! We're Starfleet, damn it!" (p. 203) was particularly eyeroll-worthy, so much so that I considered making it my signature here at TrekBBS.
The thing is... the book had a really interesting premise. I wanted
to like this one. But it was actually a struggle to get through it. I had to put it away and take a break for a couple weeks before getting up the ambition to finish it... and when I was done, I was more relieved it was over than anything else.
What about the good points? Well, that cover was a beauty!
And like I said earlier, Tikolo's backstory was interesting; plus it was nice to see a focus on a non-commissioned officer. (Although how she could then resign her commission at the end is beyond me.)
And speaking of the end (again, spoilers!), so OK, Tikolo shoots and kills one of her crewmates during a firefight because of her mental state. Yes, OK, she may not be criminally responsible because of that. But then she gets to choose
to resign? You'd think Starfleet would have some kind of regulation that would say she was unfit for active duty or something like that.
So all in all, I found this book severely lacking. I actually rated it a "poor" on the poll, and I cannot remember the last time I rated a book "poor". I'm actually surprised at the (relatively) high number of favourable rankings for this book. I actually consider myself a fan of TOS, but I am not a fan of this TOS novel.
After reading the book, I checked MA to see if Jeff Mariotte had written any other Star Trek books. It turns out he wrote "Deny Thy Father", which was the only entry in the original six Lost Era novels that I thought was a bad book. Perhaps Mr. Mariotte's literary style just does not mesh with styles I enjoy reading.