The Borg are back. But this time they are faster, meaner and more adaptable. Will their new queen ascend to the throne and doom Earth to assimilation?
J.M. Dillard is the pen name under which Jeanne Kalogridis publishes her Star Trek novels. As such, one could interpret her J.M. Dillard moniker to be her Star Trek name. This may be backed up by the fact that she has written eight novelisations of Star Trek movies and episodes, along with eight original Star Trek fiction novels. Movie/episode novelisations somehow speak “writer for sale” to me… does she have the passion and drive to deliver a really great Trek story?
On the other hand, one may see it as a marketing tool. Jeanne Kalogridis seems to focus on romance and urban fantasy, which may have made her (or her publisher) fearful that she would be poorly received by the male-dominant Star Trek fanbase.
In any case, Dillard wrote Resistance back in 2007 and lays the groundwork for the next few novels which will all strongly focus on The Borg.
The crew are shifting around! Worf turns down Picard’s offer to be the new Number One, because he feels a bit embarrassed that his touchy-feely side caused him to save his wife during the Dominion War (Dax from Deep Space 9) and a few people might have sort of died as a consequence. Meanwhile, T’Lana shows up and quickly becomes probably the worst ship’s counsellor ever to stalk the halls of the starship Enterprise.
Picard’s internal radio seems permanently configured to the Borg’s in-house station, and he soon finds a Borg ship birthing a new queen. As the queen is still a metaphorical larva in the metaphorical royal jelly, Picard devises a plan to take her out before she can pop that crown on her fully developed head.
There are a couple of noob characters, the Italian stereotype Battaglia gets assimilated, causing his newly Facebook-official Sara to swear revenge. Picard becomes Locutus again so he can sneak onto the Borg ship and take out the queen. Worf pulls a cloaking device out of nowhere (get it?) and Battaglia and Nave take the plunge (get it?).
Finally, Worf concedes that maybe Picard needs a warrior by his side, so he takes the gig after all.
The Borg are introduced into the post-Nemesis litverse with this book, and by the end of it, I was already Borged out.
I get that they are a popular antagonist and it makes sense for this run of books to play it safe and focus on the Borg. But that being said, the story here is just not very engaging.
There isn’t much explanation how a Borg ship just materialised in Federation space. And then there is the clunky description of them “birthing a new queen” with the inevitable comparison to bees and beehives.
Picard shrugs his shoulders and becomes Locutus, even though being forced to become Locutus was the worst day of his life. Yes, the first away mission failed (surprise surprise) but there didn’t seem to be any particularly good reason for him to choose that path. Perhaps Dillard pitched the idea “Picard must become Locutus again” but wasn’t quite able to craft a great story around that concept.
Worf also somehow pulls out a hidden cloaking device, despite them being banned by the Federation. How convenient for the story!
A Vulcan counsellor is a clever idea if done right. But the story didn’t give her the arc she needed.
Ok, so the plot wasn’t the best. But more annoying than a holey plot is how the book portrays certain characters. Picard “misses Troi terribly” according to this book. But Picard’s mentor was usually the underrated character of Guinan. Here we get a Picard who is unsure of himself one minute, but then without much prompting takes a huge risk in becoming Locutus. He disobeys sensible orders from Starfleet and divides his crew.
T’Lana is also a troublesome character. I wanted to like her. A Vulcan counsellor is a clever idea if done right. But the story didn’t give her the arc she needed. Probably because she was right in her defiance of Picard’s rogue plans.
The new characters of Battaglia and Nave are interesting enough, even if Battaglia was a bit of a stereotypical Italian character. But their story was predictable. Predictability is not always bad when the author gives the reader something that they signed up for. When someone picks up a Star Trek book, they expect aliens, a moral quandary and maybe a space battle or two. A doomed romance is not a big part of Trek, so readers don’t want to see that aspect introduced unless it’s done originally. Yes, it was predictable that the crew of The Enterprise would prevail, but that’s because we, as readers, sign up to see that happen. We don’t sign up to see a doomed romance play itself out in a predictable way.
One thing I cannot fault is the tight, efficient writing style of Dillard. She is a talented stringer of words. I breezed through the book in no time (it was pretty short though). There was no fat. Dillard prefers to write chapters that are comprised of small scenes that slowly paint a broader picture. Personally, it’s not my favourite writing style, but it creates a fast-moving, sweeping narrative that keeps the pages turning. On a technical level, this book is well written. I just wish the plot and the characters were of the same standard.
The book has received mixed reviews online. It has a 3.69 score on Goodreads. Space and Sorcery said, “While the main theme for this novel looked promising, this story unfortunately did not completely deliver on that promise.” In a review I personally agreed with, Trek Movie states “It’s tight, a quick read, and one that will keep your attention… except that it just fails to pioneer any new ground.” Trek Lit similarly said, “Resistance was an interesting read with plenty of action and high stakes, but at times the story felt rushed and a bit aimless."
Sales were average, about the same as Death In Winter or Titan: The Red King.
The final verdict
Dillard is a writer of obvious talent. Therefore it was a shame to see beloved characters poorly realised and a story that felt rushed. It’s by no means a terrible book. If I didn’t think too hard about it, the book was a quick and fun read. But once I’d given the story and characters some thought, it just didn’t hold up.