I really loved the way the novel was split between three different, interwoven storylines, and how they all came together at the end. Of the three (Voyager/Galen/Earth) I think I enjoyed Voyager’s storyline the most - a very unexpected episode to have built on (Twisted), but such a cool idea! There were so many threads picked up from episodes of the show, and I can't wait to see where they go. (I do find myself saying that a lot, though I understand the necessity of having a "setup" novel after everything that went on in The Eternal Tide
And sending Janeway back with the Vesta was a very neat solution; as soon as she mentioned it I had a feeling that's what would happen, and I'm glad it was.
Some great 'gasp out loud' moments, including the reveal of the identity of Patient C-1.
Kirsten's handling of the Voyager characters continues to be a delight - I always get the sense that she really *gets* these characters and does them the justice they deserve, especially Chakotay. Hugh Cambridge was, as always, hilarious - my favourite new character in the relaunch. Events of ‘Protectors’ are setting him up for an - interesting time and I can't wait to see more of him.
I also really liked the increased focus on O'Donnell/Fife, Farkas and Glenn considering they're going to be the new command team along with Chakotay - also how Harry stepped up, which makes sense considering he's going to be Acting First Officer for a while. One of the parts of this relaunch I've loved is the focus on characters neglected by the show, especially Chakotay but this time around, Harry as well. I'd like to see more development for Tom, as mentioned above, but with him returning alone to the AQ I'm looking forward to seeing what happens there.
Loved the part with O'Donnell and 'Monster'.
I agreed with rfmcdpei's comment above about consequences, which was a theme throughout this book, and something I loved.
Kathryn Janeway is my favourite character in Trek, so I was especially interested in her development here. I actually wasn't sure about the whole section after she visited Picard with her at her mother's - it felt almost a little *too* blissful for me - my friend commented that it felt like she was in the Nexus. But I was glad to see her coming to terms with the crushing weight she's been carrying, and actually grow and change as a character after it. Looking forward to seeing what these changes might mean for her going forward. I loved the scenes with Phoebe, which felt very realistic. And she can't be broken of her coffee habit; say it ain't so! I'm sure it won't be the case now she's back at work.
I was a little disappointed in the development - or lack thereof - of the Janeway/Chakotay relationship, though I'd be the first to admit I may be a little overinvested in it.
But they seemed to me to be somewhat - businesslike this time around, especially compared to The Eternal Tide
(admittedly an extraordinary and emotional situation for both of them, but still), and given everything they've been through and the things they'd both previously said in The Eternal Tide
(and earlier) about their commitment to each other going forward, I was surprised they both seemed rather nonchalant about their relationship this time, from the unemotional parting to the way they think back to each other throughout the book (or don't) to the rather strained reunion. Kathryn doesn't seem to consider much of a place for him in the new life she's trying to build (though I do understand the importance of having her establish herself on her own - I was reminded of Phoebe's description of her emerging like a phoenix from the haze of grief after hr father and Justin's death from Full Circle
). I did love her reflecting at her memorial in San Francisco; one of my favourite scenes.
I know it won't be easy for them to balance command and a relationship - I wouldn't expect it to be - but I had hoped they might finally get a chance to commit to each other more than they've had a chance to in the past, as in previous novels they had both expressed a desire to, so this felt like a step back for them. With Kathryn living on the Vesta now - and Starfleet's discouragement of their relationship - I don't know how they're going to move forward, either, but then again I may be surprised. I'm usually kept guessing - in a good way - by these books. At least they're in the same quadrant now.
So yes, a great deal of really interesting setups with the Confederacy, the new (much more manageable) fleet, Tom, Seven and Sharak leaving, the worrying seeming-alliance of old, familiar enemies, What Julia Did, Patient C-1, What The Doctor Did, what Starfleet are up to, the plague etc. 'Protectors' left us in a really exciting place and I already can't wait for the next installment.
Thankfully it's not too long a wait this time!