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TNG: Resistance, by J.M. Dillard Book Review | SFReader.com
TNG: Resistance, by J.M. Dillard Genre: Star Trek Publisher: Pocket Books Published: 2007 Review Posted: 11/12/2007 Reviewer Rating:
Reader Rating: Not Rated
TNG: Resistance, by J.M. Dillard
Book Review by David Roy
Have you read this book?
So now the Star Trek: The Next Generation relaunch series of novels can begin (though don't tell the editors I'm calling it a relaunch). Resistance, by J.M. Dillard, embarks Captain Picard and the remaining crew of the Enterprise into new territory after the placeholder book Death in Winter. Will the romantic relationship between Dr. Crusher and Picard continue to evolve? Who will be Picard's first officer? What new crewmembers will come in to replace the now-dead Data and the departed Riker and Troi? And as you can probably guess from the title, the Borg are back as well. All in all, this is a much better book than Death in Winter, but it still seems to be lacking something.
On a shakedown cruise mission of diplomacy, Captain Picard wakes from Crusher's and his bed with more dreams of his time with the Borg. But these don't feel like dreams. The Collective is talking to him, and he can sense that the remaining Borg in the Alpha Quadrant are trying to recreate their queen to sow destruction in the Federation. Picard must take the Enterprise to the location where he knows they are to stop them before the queen can be reconstituted. Meanwhile, Commander Worf has been offered the first officer position on the Enterprise, but feels he is unworthy of it due to events in the Deep Space Nine television series. He must come to terms with that, his love for his dead wife Jadzia, and his prickly relationship with the new Vulcan counselor, T'Lana. Will the Borg make all of this superfluous anyway? To stop them, Picard may have to become what he's had nightmares about for the last few years.
Resistance is a fairly short book, and unfortunately it feels like one too. There are quite a few minor plots to go with the major Borg plot, but they seem to be almost done by the numbers. Worf's angst about his wife and what happened when he saved her rather than complete a mission gets pounded into us again and again. The fates of two minor characters are telegraphed almost from the get-go, removing any tension from their plotline and making me not care for either one of them despite Dillard's attempts to give them depth. Crusher has to reconcile her ability to be Chief Medical Officer on a ship captained by her lover. It almost feels like Dillard had a laundry list of things that she had to include in the book to carry the overall series plot forward, and most of it is done with the subtlety of a brick. I thought Death in Winter was a transition novel, but Resistance is even worse in that respect. Another thing that makes it feel like a transition novel is how empty the ship feels. We only see a few named characters (most of them filler anyway), and we don't get a sense that there's a vast crew on the ship. It doesn't feel populated at all.
That being said, Dillard does do a great job with the characterization. T'Lana is an intriguing addition to the cast, a Vulcan who can deal with emotions despite not acknowledging having them. I do find the instant attraction (which both of them try to deny to themselves) between Worf and T'Lana to be annoying, but I'm sure that's part of the overarching story that Dillard had to include. As a character, though, I see interesting possibilities for her. She's totally logical when she tries to convince Picard to wait as ordered rather than follow the ghostly voice of the Collective to where they're hiding. She's against all of their plans and carries herself well. Speaking as the voice of "reason," she does come off a little bit as the token "friendly obstacle that the good guys have to overcome," but overall she's nicely done. I can't wait to see more of her.
Also, as much as I find some of the plot elements disappointing and paint-by-numbers, I think Dillard did a good job with the actual writing itself. I can see Worf being as conflicted as he is about taking command, and I can see him almost killing himself with angst (though I wish we didn't have to see it so much). Picard refuses to let his emotions get the better of him regarding the Borg, after what happened in the movie First Contact, but he still can't help himself. Geordi is vastly underused, but I suppose he'll get some time in the spotlight in subsequent books.
Dillard also does the action scenes extremely well. The tension when the final away team boards the Borg Cube is palpable, and Dillard provides enough twists and turns to make your head spin. There is one aspect that felt a bit anti-climactic, however. Worf makes a point of saying that they need to come up with new strategy because of the presence of Locutus, but what they end up doing seems pretty basic, almost a retread of what happened previously. The method of taking out the growing queen is different, but that's not what Worf was talking about when he said it. Still, the scenes themselves are very effective and kept me reading until the end of the book.
Resistance definitely has the feel of a sequel to First Contact, and I guess it's nice that the TNG relaunch ultimately begins with the Borg, since facing them was such a defining moment for Picard. However, they're getting a bit long in the teeth and other than changing their modus operandi a little bit (they're now much more aggressive), they're frankly getting a bit dull. Dillard doesn't really succeed in creating that "wow" factor that the Borg had at the beginning.
Thus, we have another exceedingly average Next Generation novel that does manage to elevate itself to a higher level of average than Death in Winter did. There are definitely some good moments in here, however, and new stories that further characters we know and love are always welcome. It's a must-read in that sense. I just hope the series begins to pick up steam with the next book, Keith R.A. DeCandido's Q&A.
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