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The first installment in the Starfleet Academy series of YA books set in the newly rebooted Star Trek universe. It follows Kirk (played my Chris Pine in the movies) during his time at the academy.
This is the third book in the series that I've read and the second by Barba. Luckily these stories are all quite self contained so reading them out of order is not a big deal, although watching the first movie before reading the books is highly recommended.
As I keep finding while reading YA books; I am NOT the target audience and so I keep noticing just how thin the plots are. I find things are not pursued to my satisfaction and that the characters can move on from certain events like they have ADD. The ability for characters to switch from being in peril to hitting on an attractive girl in the span of one paragraph is a bit concerning. Although this is played for humor it tended to take me out of the story.
In this book Kirk is in the middle of some practical away mission tests. At the same time there is a serial killer roaming the streets of San Fransisco striking on foggy nights.
There is no story unless Kirk and the gang are involved in the attacks; how they are initially drawn in worked extremely well. As a matter of fact the first encounter with the killer, known as the Doctor, happened during my favorite scene in the book where kirk is fending off the advances of Gaila in a local bar.
The story switches from classes to the investigation quite frequently. Obviously the SFPD are involved in the murders and they quickly realize starfleet can help, I was continually being thrown out of the story thinking, "that would never happen" as the police handed more and more responsibility to starfleet cadets. Cadets!
Even the final confrontation with the Doctor, which called for so much suspension of disbelief that I nearly started laughing out loud. Everything about the investigation worked, it was only in the author's choice of who was tasked with trying to apprehend the bad guy that struck me as improbable.
Would I recommend the book? To be honest, no. But the author gets his legs in The Gemini Agent which had better plotting with an interesting twist ending, and he also got the voices of the characters better in his second book.
I believe the flaw in the books speaks more to the flaw in the series and that seems to point to the editors at Simon Spotlight. Lets face it; kids in school are kids in school, I would much rather read about something plausible, like how they cope with difficult classmates and instructors. Instead the reader is constantly being asked to believe that Kirk has been saving the world since day one. It's a bit much.
There is only one more book in the series to read ...