Book Review: ‘The Final Frontier’ by J.M. Dillard

April 14, 2023 at 10:33 am | Posted in Books, Reviews, Sci-Fi, Star Trek | 1 Comment

Star Trek V: The Final Frontier is the fifth movie novelization for Star Trek. It was adapted by J.M. Dillard, based on the screenplay by David Loughery, and based on the story by William Shatner, Harve Bennett, and David Loughery. It was released by Pocket Books in June 1989. 

Many a novelization has been great, and made a movie even better. Some novelizations are bad and don’t add much or make a movie better. 

This novelization is fine, and might be considered good…unfortunately, it cannot spin the straw that is the story of this movie into gold.

Everyone knows this film has a bad reputation. Among Trekkies and non-Trekkies alike, this is certainly in the bottom three Trek films, and for some it is the worst. I think the movie is so bad it’s actually enjoyable. But I was hoping that the book would add context and understanding to make the movie better. It certainly adds sequences and expounds upon the story…but this story is just too ridiculous and too difficult to save for me.

I’m in a bit of a weird spot, because the criticisms I have in the story come from the writers of the movie, not the novelization portion from J M Dillard. As such, I’ll try to delineate my thoughts between the two.

Dillard adds sequences from each crewmember’s perspective, especially after they have been in contact with Sybock which makes these characters all have more points of view in the story, as well as help the reader understand what exactly Sybock is doing to “brainwash” the crew. The sequences were fine, but they were not amazing. 

This book also adds a little bit more time with J’Onn, the devotee of Sybock. There are not too many scenes with him, but they do add understanding about the planet of Nimbus 3. 

Other than that, the story is pretty much a straight adaptation of the movie.

Now, to my thoughts on the story itself from the perspective of the movie writers.

My biggest complaint stems from one of the cardinal rules of franchise properties: Don’t add in unknown immediate family members late into a franchise. Star Trek had been around for over 20 years at this point, and adding in a brother for Spock who we had never heard of was a terrible decision. Very similar to the decision to add a whole planet of Remus to the mythology of the Romulans in Nemesis

The whole sequence at the end with “God“ is just bizarre. And going through the “great barrier“ was also weird. If all it took was to adjust instruments and shield levels, I am certain Starfleet would have broken through well beyond this point. It seems too convenient that Sybock happens to figure it out and that the Federation happened to never figure it out. 

The whole sequence with the horses at the beginning it’s just underwhelming. The desire to have a surprise where we think Kirk and Spock have a victory, but it’s really a defeat is a good idea, but isn’t executed properly. Instead the time just feels wasted. 

The redeeming portion of the story comes from the interactions of Kirk, Spock, and McCoy throughout the book. Their banter is hilarious and on point. 

Overall, I think this is a really bad movie and a good/fine adaptation that cannot make the movie better, through no fault of the author. So I give the novelization itself a three out of five.

Reviewed By: Jonathan Koan for Roqoo Depot.


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  1. […] has added a new review for David Loughery and Harve Bennett and J.M. Dillard and William Shatner‘s “Star Trek V: The Final Frontier”: […]

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