What the hell, let’s start the year with a fun book. Star Trek books are definitely a guilty pleasure for me.
Star Trek: Section 31 – Disavowed is written by David Mack, a veteran of the Star Trek Relaunch series. After the events of The Fall, Doctor Julian Bashir has left Starfleet. He plans to infiltrate and sabotage Section 31 from within. There is one minor flaw in his plan. Section 31 is aware of his intentions and intends to naturalize him permanently. Just as soon as he completes a mission to the parallel universe from Mirror Mirror.
Disavowed is a fun novel. There isn’t any getting around that fact.
With the caveat that it’s a Star Trek Relaunch novel. So, know what you’re getting into as a reader.
Disavowed is a self-contained novel. It’s not a story (other than the running plot of Bashir’s attempted take-down of Section 31) that requires you to have read previous books. The situation is refreshed for readers fairly quickly and the story progresses.
Mack’s novel definitely has fun with it’s universe. Some characters are exactly what you expect and some aren’t. In short form, it’s a story about an alternate universe. Inevitably, everyone acts how you expect them to, when you sit down and consider the expectations that alternate universes establish.
Disavowed is helped and hampered by established continuity, which is precisely the kind of thing that’s bogged down Star Trek as an ensemble for years. It uses the confines in a fun way, while never deviating too far.
This story won’t bring in any new readers and I’m sure it isn’t meant to. Then again, anyone this far into the Star Trek Relaunch universe was here from the beginning (television) or read the collections when they did finally enter (me). Either way, it’s appealing to already existing Star Trek fans. And that’s perfectly fine.
Continuity restrictions aside, Mack uses a few too many narrators to explain what’s going on. For a book about a clandestine organization, it feels like we were given a bit too much information, but none of it amounts to little more than padding and fluff. The reader is never expected to suss out the problems, we’re simply told. If Mack had cut at least 3 narrators (off the top of my head) the book wouldn’t be any worse for plot or characterization. Definitely shorter though.
In the end, Section 31 is a Star Trek Relaunch novel. By this time, you know what you’re getting. Some on-the-nose philosophical debates often lacking tack or subtly. Disavowed knows what it is and doesn’t attempt to deviate.