Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Atonement

Star Trek: Voyager
Atonement by Kirsten Beyer
Release date: August 25th 2015
Read September 4th 2015


Previous book (Voyager): Acts of Contrition

Next book (Voyager): A Pocket Full of Lies



Spoilers ahead for Atonement!

From the back cover:
Admiral Kathryn Janeway faces a tribunal determined to execute her for supposed crimes committed during Voyager's maiden trek through the Delta Quadrant. Captain Chakotay knows that the Kinara, several species now allied against the Full Circle fleet, are not all they appear to be. The Confederacy of the Worlds of the First Quadrant—a pact he cannot trust—is his only hope for unravelling the Kinara's true agenda and rescuing Admiral Janeway. Meanwhile, Seven and Tom Paris are forced to betray the trust of their superiors in a desperate bid to reveal the lengths to which a fellow officer has gone in the name of protecting the Federation from the legendary Caeliar.

My thoughts:

Atonement picks up right where the previous Voyager novel, Acts of Contrition, left off. Kathryn Janeway has turned herself over to the Kinara, an alliance of Delta Quadrant species who want to execute the Admiral for the "crimes" committed by her and her crew during Voyager's first trip through the region. However, the leaders pushing for this alliance are not who they appear to be; rather, they are being controlled by the Neyser consciousnesses led by the being who took control of the "Meegan" hologram way back at the beginning of the Full Circle mission to the Delta Quadrant.

Meanwhile, back at Earth, Seven of Nine, Tom Paris, Samantha Wildman, and Dr. Sharak continue their work to free Axum and the rest of the victims of Commander Jefferson Briggs, a researcher who is employing extreme, unethical methods in his attempts to cure the "catomic plague."

If this sounds like a lot, it is. Atonement relies heavily on the plots of the novels that precede it, most notably Protectors and Acts of Contrition. Atonement ends up being the conclusion of a trilogy formed by these three novels. Therefore, if you have not yet read the two previous books, I would urge you to do so before picking up Atonement.

READ THESE FIRST!

Atonement, as the title suggests, is about facing the consequences of one's actions, but more than that, it is about the revelation of one's true character. This theme is repeated throughout the novel. Commander Briggs is revealed to be a monster, even though he believed he was acting in the best interests of the Federation. The Federation itself is revealed, through the actions of Janeway and her fleet, to be a force for good in the galaxy (for the most part). The Confederacy is revealed to be, well, us. Our present-day society is very much mirrored by the actions and attitude of the Confederacy, and while they may not quite be up to snuff to be an ally of the Federation, the future holds many possibilities, and there is potential there for an on-going relationship going forward.

I really enjoyed the resolution of many of the plot threads in this story. Tom Paris and his mother, Julia, come to a place of reconciliation, and while B'Elanna may never forgive her, things are not as dark as they were in the previous novel. Also, the resolution to The Doctor's storyline was very impressive. I was, sadly, expecting a reset-button ending to this story, in which his memories of Seven of Nine were restored and everything works out, but Kirsten Beyer surprised me with how this story was resolved. Of course, I shouldn't have been surprised; Beyer has proven to have a knack for meaningful stories and non-reset button endings.

The messy, imperfect ending to The Doctor's story was one of my favorite things about Atonement.

Final thoughts:

For the most part, I came away from Atonement immensely satisfied with the way the story has been concluded. Nobody writes these characters better than Kirsten Beyer, and in this novel we even got the treat of a couple of scenes featuring Elim Garak, one of my favorite Trek characters of all time! Also, because Voyager is currently set a little earlier than the rest of the 24th century novelverse, we got a number of scenes with another favorite: Federation President Nan Bacco, which was a very pleasant surprise!

Cardassian Ambassador Garak makes a surprise appearance in Atonement.

In this novel, we learn that there are ideals worth living up to, and that there are always going to be those who want to tear down all that has been built. Like "The Drumhead," the lesson here is to stick to our principles, and to always remain vigilant and on guard against forces that would take us away from what is ethical and right.

Also: "At-one-ment." I love it.

More about Atonement:

Also by Kirsten Beyer:

My next read:

Look for my review of the third and final part of New Frontier: The Returned, coming soon!