Book Reviews

Book Review – Star Trek: Avenger by William Shatner and Judith & Garfield Reeves-Stevens

For many years, William Shatner portrayed Star Trek‘s legendary Captain James T. Kirk. Unable to accept that the character was killed off permanently in the film Star Trek: Generations, Shatner along with two co-writers began writing a series of books in which a resurrected Kirk continues to live on during the time period following the Star Trek: The Next Generation movies.

The first of these novels was Star Trek: The Return. Although that had an ending that also felt like it wrapped up the saga of the life of Captain Kirk, he is miraculously alive again in Avenger.

If there’s one thing that Shatner has in common with many of the writers and producers of Star Trek, it’s their contempt for consistency with history. I could accept in Star Trek: Generations that Kirk had left behind a beautiful woman named Antonia – who fans never met nor knew anything about – to return to Starfleet. It is this person who is in that “ideal place” in The Nexus with him. In the novelization of that movie, Kirk’s ideal place was with Dr. Carol Marcus and their late son David whom we met for the first time in Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan.

However, in Avenger, Shatner changes all of that. Instead of having left Antonia to return to Starfleet, he now left a woman named Teilani. Teilani lives on the planet Chal, which is a planet that the Klingons and Romulans collaborated on together to produce a possible super-race. Long after that project was abandoned, the offspring still reside on a planet that is just shy of Eden.

But Eden is dying, the victim of a mysterious virogen that has jumped quarantines and devastated the food supply on numerous Federation planets.

It is then that we see the second force attempting to contain the virogen – the Enterprise E under the command of Captain Jean-Luc Picard. During an attempt to maintain quarantine, Picard stumbles onto clues that lead him to investigate the virogen’s origins further.

Kirk teams up with a Federation relief team on Chal and begins his own investigation. Along the way, they meet up with Mr. Spock as he’s investigating the possibility that his father, Sark, did not die from Bendii Syndrome but was murdered.

Everything comes together as the mystery unfolds and the forces at work take everyone by surprise.

The novel is not bad at all. It’s a very well-written story with a great idea behind it. The story flows nicely and has great pacing to it. Although parts were very predictable, many points will take readers by surprise and keep them in suspense throughout.

The problem lies in the fact that Kirk is once again treated as a super-human who is the only person who could possibly solve the problem. I’ll buy the fact that in the plans of the forces that unleashed the virogen, they were using Spock and didn’t plan on having Kirk around. It would have been very believable to have Kirk working with Spock to solve the problem and be an outside influence that hadn’t been taken into consideration.

But Kirk seducing young Starfleet officers? He’s sixty in this novel. I don’t care if he does have more hair now than when he was younger, he’s not as irresistible as he paints himself to be in this novel. The same goes for Kirk’s physical capabilities. I’m not saying he should walk around like a decrepit old man, but quite often he is characterized as being able to fight off younger, stronger opponents.

I also felt that Shatner unfairly paints the current crew of the Enterprise in a negative light whenever possible. Riker is almost always belligerent. Picard seems to be in awe of the legendary Captain Kirk, who is inevitably one step ahead of Picard. When they do work together, it’s as if Kirk is granting some terrific favor in allowing them to participate in the search for who is behind the virogen as well as a cure.

I do have to say that what does draw Kirk, Spock, the crew of the Enterprise E, as well as Dr. McCoy later on together is a good story. That is the one savior of the novel, and I feel we have the Reeves-Stevens’ to thank for that. If only they’d been able to check Shatner’s ego from projecting too much through Kirk, it would have been better.

Taking Kirk out of the picture, this is a good story to read. I’d recommend it just on that alone. I can’t say that Kirk’s presence takes away from the story, but I think his character could have been written into the story better. I also didn’t like Teilani appearing out of nowhere as the true love Kirk left behind for Starfleet. If you have the chance to pick up the paperback used on Ebay or Amazon, it’s worth a look.

Previous book in series (link): Star Trek: The Return by William Shatner, et. al.

Next book in series (link): Star Trek: Preserver by William Shatner

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