After a long absence from the world of "Star Trek" novels, Margaret Wander Bonanno has come back with a vengeance in the past couple of years. Her return should be a cause for celebration and for the most part it is. Bonanno is one of the early set of "Trek" fiction writers who did more than just tell standard "Trek" stories but actually offered some character insight into the regular crew and some fairly rounded new characters to the "Trek" universe.
So when I heard she was going to write a story that would bridge the gap of the Saavik we last saw in "The Voyage Home" and the one we meet in the "Vulcan’s Heart" series, I hoped we were in for something special. Or at least something good.
And for the first half of "Unspoken Truth" we get something pretty good. Easily the best first half of a "Trek" novel I’ve read in a while, Bonanno explores the past and present of Saavik’s life, augmenting what we saw in "The Pandora Principle" and providing some insight into how the events of "Star Trek III" had a major impact on her life. The only major complaint I have early is the flashbacks sometimes take a paragraph or two to figure out what time period we’re dealing with.
Then we get to the second half of the novel and the story starts to fall apart. Part of it is that the story of Saavick joining a new ship and setting out to explore a "strange new world" feels fairly repetitive of a lot of other "Trek" fiction. We’ve got some mysterious aliens and Saavik is able to communicate with them. Nothing groundbreaking here nor does it necessarily have to be. I just wish it had felt like something a bit more substantial than what we get.
Where the story really falls apart is an attempted conspiracy/blackmail thread that never gels like it could or should. Again, it’s nothing new and it doesn’t offer any real insight into Savvik. It also hinges a lot on remembering details of "Pandora," a novel I read when it first came out and I’ve forgotten a lot of details about.
In the end, "Unspoken Truth" does a lot of things well, a few things not as well. Unfortunately, the not as well parts are in the last half and left me feeling unsatisfied as I turned the final page.