Starfleet's mission to the Delta Quadrant, led by a refitted Voyager, needs to arrive on time and in exactly the right place for it to do B'Elanna Torres any good. It's been two years since B'Elanna staged her own death, and that of her little daughter Miral, to protect the child from a Klingon sect bent on murder. Their reason? They think Miral has been born in fulfillment of a prophecy that they desperately want to prevent from coming true. With Tom Paris serving as Voyager's first officer, B'Elanna takes their child ahead to the Delta Quadrant and waits there for Starfleet's arrival. The journey no longer requires either a lifetime of conventional warp travel or use of a Borg corridor; thanks to slipstream technology that finally seems ready for safe use, it's now within normal mission time limits. But the Delta Quadrant is still a long way from the Federation, and it's nowhere for a shuttle with one woman (however brilliant a warrior) and her small child aboard to encounter - of all things - a cube. Aren't the Borg supposed to be gone? Absorbed into the gestalt of the Caeliar, who created them in the first place?
That's how author Beyer "shoots the sheriff on page one" (to cite an old but useful piece of writing advice). Beyer has the familiar Voyager characters nailed, and her original characters fit into the Trek universe as if they had been there all along. For those things I give this book high praise. I do have a couple of quibbles, though, just as I did with the story's first volume, Full Circle. A certain degree of "spoilage" follows. So don't read the rest of this review unless you have either finished reading the book for yourself, or don't care about being spoiled.
First, this time the absence of Janeway really started to bother me. I'd assumed, perhaps foolishly, that one of the plot elements in Unworthy would be bringing her back from the "dead" - I'm using quotes because this is science fiction, and therefore the word need not have its usual finality. Maybe that's going to happen later, in some future book; and I do hope so, because for me it's unacceptable to have any Trek incarnation continue without its captain. TOS needs Kirk, TNG needs Picard, DS9 needs Sisko; and Voyager needs Janeway. If your mileage varies on this point, that's fine; but this is how I feel, and it definitely affected my enjoyment of an otherwise fine novel. Second, one of the plot twists happened off camera and therefore failed to work for me as well as it should have. The "reveal" scene for that plot twist felt forced, when it should have flowed naturally.
Otherwise a great read! The sort that kept me up too late, in fact. I'm glad Beyer is writing the Voyager books now. Well worth the purchase.
--Reviewed by Nina M. Osier, author of 2005 science fiction EPPIE winner REGS