Book Review: ‘A Time to be Born’ by John Vornholt

June 23, 2021 at 5:13 am | Posted in Books, Reviews, Sci-Fi, Star Trek | Leave a comment
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Star Trek: A Time to be Born is the first book in the “A Time to” series, published by Pocket Books at Simon and Schuster and was written by John Vornholt and released in February of 2004.

Media tie-In books can be hit or miss, depending on which franchise and time period you are reading. Star Trek is no exception. I’ve found that most of the Star Trek books written post-Nemesis are significantly better than their counterparts written while the movies and television series are running. This book is in kind of a precarious situation as it straddles the difference between the two eras, at least in the feel and length of the story.

What needs to be established first and foremost is that this is book one in a nine book series spanning the timeframe between the events of Insurrection and Nemesis.  This book does not provide all of the answers, nor is it meant to. This book serves as a glimpse as to what the rest of the series will do – pit the Next Generation crew against a difficult galaxy spanning task, and begin to bridge the gap in an unknown portion of Star Trek literature.

This book is 284 pages and as a result flies by really quickly. The chapters themselves tend to be on the longer side, so that adds to the velocity with which the reader is meant to read the book. As with many books, I think that Vornholt could have and should have spent more time in the heads of the characters, particularly the ones who are not as heavily featured as Picard. Some of the characters such as Troi, Riker, and La Forge are seen on the page, but rarely do we see from their perspective which would have shed more insight and made the story feel more whole.

The story also introduces an element, featuring an old friend, who has been absent for a lot of Trek continuity: Wesley Crusher (I feel confident mentioning this storyline and not considering it a spoiler, as Wesley shows up on page three, very early on). This story is obviously meant to unfold over the whole series, but there are major things happening that could be entire books in and of themselves but are just barely mentioned. I believe that is the biggest failing of this series. Each author was required to write two books back to back and in quick enough format to release in successive months and most likely to ensure that they don’t step on each others toes, so each story was written in such a way that it doesn’t cause problems for future books. That’s all understandable, but it doesn’t excuse the fact that with books, it is really easy to add 50 more pages to make a more complete story.

I’ve made my problems with the book known, so I’ll go onto my praises. While the whole Rashanar battle site didn’t hold particular interest for me at the beginning of the book, I was HOOKED for the second half. I could not wait to find out what would happen, and found myself racing to find out all of the details (many of which won’t be revealed until the future books). Needless to say, this plot went from good to great really quick.

I’ve seen complaints from people that Vornholt didn’t get the dialogue correct for the characters, nor did he match their tones. While there was the occasional moment where I thought something odd was coming out of a character’s mouth, I found that nearly all of the characters felt about the same as they would if written by the TV show writers. 

Overall, I enjoyed reading this book, although I did have some structural issues with the story. Some of my issues I am sure will be fixed in later books, while I know that others most definitely will not. But, this book has me hooked for book two, exactly as it should. Three out of five. Decent work Vornholt.

My next book is, surprise surprise, A Time to Die by John Vornholt, the second book in the series.

Reviewed By: Jonathan Koan for Roqoo Depot.

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