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VINE VOICEon April 21, 2010
Introduced in early Star Trek films, Saavik is a half-Vulcan, half-Romulan protégé of Spock. This is her story. As a child, Saavik was rescued from Hellguard along with other children that the Romlulans had abandoned after a failed biological engineering experiment. Spock brought Saavik home to Vulcan to be raised by his parents, Sarek and Amanda. Saavik is now an officer in Starfleet with a bright future. But her world is turned upside down when childhood friend Tolek, tells her that the now-grown survivors of Hellguard are being hunted down and killed. Then, a Romulan confronts Saavik with news that he is her biological father and that she must help him destroy her adoptive father Sarek's career as an ambassador. If Saavik doesn't agree, not only will she be killed, but Sarek as well.

This ambitious novel tracks the life of a minor character (though certainly an interesting one) in the Star Trek universe. Despite Saavik having been portrayed by two different actresses (Kirstie Alley, Star Trek II and Robin Curtis Star Trek III & IV), we are only given a glimpse of her relationship with Spock, and nothing about her origins. Author Margaret Wander Bonanno wrote of one of my favorite Trek novels - Strangers from the Sky. And here, she fills in the blanks about where Saavik came from and her connection to Spock and his family. Bonanno fleshes out this complex character and gives her incredible depth and motivation.

It is not a requirement, but definitely helpful to have a good knowledge of Star Trek films II-IV as the novel references all of her scenes and the circumstances with Spock's death and regeneration. But then, what original series fan doesn't know the movies well?

Drama, mystery, intrigue, and first contact - this story will appeal to any true Star Trek fan. The plot is as complex as Saavik herself. It's thought-provoking and moving, yet full of wonder and excitement - this is why I love science fiction and Star Trek novels in particular. I will now be tracking down Bonanno's novels that I haven't yet read. First the classic Strangers from the Sky, now this inspiring Unspoken Truth - I am dually impressed.
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on August 16, 2010
... most before I was in 10th or 11th grade (I'm in my mid-30s now). But nowadays, I often check out what's new on the ST shelf at the bookstore, though I rarely actually read them. This is mostly because they're poorly written or delve into characters and situations that came after "my" time in ST (namely anything after TNG, Classic, or the original cast movies). I remember Bonanno's novels from the old days - Dwellers in the Crucible, Strangers from the Sky. And having read so many dozens of ST novels, that's saying a lot that I remember hers specifically. The reason is the good writing. She has a gift for capturing the 'voice' and vibe of Vulcans and their culture and traditions, making them seem very real. For instance, the details of the Vulcan monastery-like place where part of the book is set made me think she has spent some time in real monasteries. She seemed very intimate with the kind of ordered daily existence and emphasis on silence and meditation that characterizes such places. That's just one example. I think she also did an excellent job rendering the young Saavik and the traumas she experienced as a cast-out on an abandoned planet, and how that would affect her if she were adopted. Again, I suspect familiarity with similar instances from real life, maybe a friend who adopted a child from a war-torn country. Those who call this novel "dull" have no appreciation for subtlety. The reason I read ST novels is for the insight into the characters, and I think Bonanno does an excellent job here exploring a really underutilized character and providing her with a plausible backstory, and the secondary characters she invents for this book were quite compelling, including a race of annelids that were very "alien" but still relatable. Anyway, Saavik was always a favorite minor character for me, so it was time she got some coverage.
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VINE VOICEon April 10, 2010
I've come across more than a few reviews of this book online, and the one gleaming review posted on Amazon at the time of this posting. The reviews have really lauded this book as great, a must-read, wonderful ... but the book I read is anything but. It is horribly dull, contrived and just a step above fan-fiction that you could Google and get online. I've read both Catalyst of Sorrows (Star Trek: The Lost Era, 2360) and Burning Dreams (Star Trek), both by Margaret Wander Bonanno, and both dealing with unanswered questions from the 'Original Series' era. In brief, 'Unspoken Truth' is supposed to do for the character of Saavik what 'Burning Dreams' did for Captain Pike: give a underused character in Trek lore his/her moment in the spotlight and reveal new and interesting things about them that the tv series and movies left untouched. I was disappointed to say that 'Unspoken Truth' really is a bust and dropped the ball when it comes to doing justice for the character of Saavik. Perhaps it missteps in trying to insert the character into one of the most unoriginal plots one could think of: the heroine is pushed to her limits and is lost emotionally after traumatizing events and extreme circumstances (Star Trek: Wrath of Khan, Search for Spock and The Voyage Home). As a result, she reflects on her past and is recruited by the 'enemy' to ruin her mentor, Sarek's, career. Now, 'Burning Dreams' and 'Catalyst of Sorrows' both worked well because their plots didn't involve an outcome we were too sure about. We all know from other Trek movies, shows and books that Sarek lived a long life and his career never suffered a setback as this book tries to hint at. Thus, the reader is treated to a long, drawn out novel that at the end feels very predictable, contrived and horribly executed.

The Good: The only good I have to say about this novel is that I enjoyed the scenes that filled-in between the movies. We're treated to what could be considered 'cut' or bonus scenes from Star Trek: The Search for Spock and Star Trek: The Voyage Home. Kirk worrying about Spock returning to his old self after the events of Star Trek: The Search for Spock and Voyage Home was actually entertaining, as was McCoy's few appearances. Another character that seemed to get a lot of great scenes was Amanda, who is seen and portrayed more as a mother in this novel than as a wife as she usually is in most novels. Beyond these two areas, there's not much to praise.

The Bad: Where to begin. I feel 'Unspoken Truth' is guilty of really confusing and giving the character of Saavik a makeover when none was necessary. Compared to what was shown in the movies and what was written about Saavik in other novels, this one turns her into a rebellious teen with unchecked emotional problems, lacking common sense and devoid of logic. Basically, gone is the Saavik of the movies and in her place is a character from some 1980s brat pack movie. Every sentence that Saavik thinks or says seems to end with an exclamation point as if she is forever mad or on edge. This book (to my knowledge) rewrites her character's history a bit to make it so that she was found by Spock as a young child, brought home, raised by Sarek and Amanda, mentored by 'big brother' Spock ... and I'm sorry, but the author does nothing to make any of this, or Saavik's relationship with any of the characters, believable. Part of this problem is that there are two plots going on within this book that hardly go together and so both end up being short-changed. The plot described on the back of the book ... sorry to reveal that it doesn't even occur until page 209 at which point it's rushed and pushed through and never fully developed. The majority of the book deals with Saavik seeking a quiet, un-eventful mission following the events of Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home. That's exactly what she gets and what the reader must sit through and endure. The first 200 pages of this novel are for the most part a total bore. Then comes the Romulan plot to recruit Saavik to ruin Sarek's career. It's contrived, predictable and meanders without any true focus. A couple of pages in, you're able to guess the outcome at every twist and turn. Annoyingly, 'unspoken truth' appears in the dialogue various times but I must say by the end, I have no idea what the author was trying to refer to or get at with the title. The end of the novel ends with dialogue that made this feel like 'The Little Mermaid' made-over for Star Trek: Father-figure Sarek realizes he can't force Vulcan tradition on his daughter Saavik and that he and Amanda have raised her to the best of their ability and must let her go off into the vast universe on her own. Seriously.

Let me not forget to mention that Saavik also finds a new love in this novel and behaves like a promiscuous teenager in heat, at once jumping into bed and a complicated relationship with her new guy ... even after pages of her agonizing over how mating with Spock in Star Trek: The Search for Spock was unwise and complicated her life and brought her much grief and personal shame. So, again, what in the world? I don't understand why so many readers are jumping for joy over this book when it's nothing more than a harlequin romance novel set in the Star Trek universe. This book is pretty much character assassination for the character of Saavik. It doesn't do anything to make her any more clear, likable or smart/intelligent as she was portrayed in the films and in other books. It was as if someone gave Bonanno free range to do as she pleased with the character(s) (because not even Sarek or Spock feel totally in character). On an entirely different note, was this the absolute best cover Pocket Books could come up with because it seems like a pretty lame cop-out for doing something more representative of the events of the novel. I guess this is supposed to be Vulcan, perhaps Sarek's residence ... whatever the case, it's never explained or linked to the events of the novel. Could they not have, I don't know, put an image of Saavik on the cover since the novel is about her?

Avoid this book. I rarely give out 1 star reviews but this was by far the worst book I've read in a long time. It's dull, the first 200 pages have nothing at all to do with the book's description and even that plot is dull, lacking and poorly written. I expected a lot more from the author who has written some great novels but as said, this book certainly isn't one of them. The author managed to turn one of Trek's most interesting characters into nothing more than a cardboard cut-out from an adolescent novel. The plot does not feel original and is planted in the middle of a time period and dealing with characters whose outcomes we're aware of and thus can easily predict the outcome of the book, making reading this horrible mess of a novel pretty much wasted money and paper. The novel ends with Saavik pretty much where she was when the novel began and looking forward to getting back to duty and returning to the Enterprise if Kirk and crew will have her. Uh, we all saw Star Trek IV: The Final Frontier and the films that followed so yet again, we know the outcome of that event. This novel was, in my opinion, a missed opportunity. I'd rather have been treated to a novel that filled in a piece of Star Trek history that hasn't been covered to death and was unknown to the reader so that reading it would have created more history. Perhaps having focused on Saavik post Original Series movie era, or even before she came into the picture and really explored her alone, not attached to Spock or Sarek, would have improved the novel. Whatever the case, I can't in good conscience recommend this novel to anyone. SKIP IT.
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on May 8, 2010
I was looking forward to learning more about Saavik's character and how the author devised her own introspection, but as I turned the pages I realized that the characterization and indeed the story itself deviated horribly from the 'Star Trek' formula.

Author's are, of course, free to take established 'Star Trek' characters and run with them, but what this book does is completely re-invent Saavik. It presents us with an established character acting in unbelievable ways within a weakly structured plot, forcing her to become something unbelievable. It's true that Saavik received limited development in the three 'Star Trek' movies in which she appeared, but we still got a feel for who she was and how shye behaved. In this story, however, the suspension of disbelief never occurred and that made it an effort to get through the book.

As even the most basic 'Star Trek' fan knows, Vulcans (and even half-Vulcans when one considers Spock's blood and Saavik's assumed half-Vulcan heritage) strive towards an ordered life of logic and non-emotion. They abhor any and all gestures associated with intimacy (especially in connection with non-Vulcans) and keep their own biological necessities tucked away out of sight--and even then they are ashamed of them. Granted there are gross exceptions to this, but as a whole 'Star Trek' has established for us a race committed to logic, rationality, purpose, and the repression of all emotion. Both Kirstie Alley's and Robin Curtis's portrayal of the Saavik character attempted to do this. The only weakness we were allowed a glimpse of was Saavik's tears during Spock's funeral, but by the end of "Star Trek III" we saw that her emotions were bottled and contained following both David's death and Spock's resurrection. Therefore, it is safe to assume that Saavik (even we accept the author's backstory of her conflicted past and upbringing) is a typical Vulcan in command of her faculties.

This book, however, reverts her into an emotional savage with self-esteem issues and character weaknesses strong enough to make her betray the esteemed Vulcan family that took her in. No way. Saavik would not do this nor even pretend to do it. The author went way too far and stepped out of line. This storyline is more of a fit to Lieutenant Valeris's character from 'Star Trek VI'.

The plot may have had potential in certain places, but the shifts in point of view and time setting made my head spin at times. The only relief were the instances of tie-in to actual 'Star Trek' movie events. It were those instances when I was temporarily grounded back into the 'Star Trek' reality. A great Saavik story should have focused instead solely on her recovery from the Grissom/Genesis tragedies and perhaps explored some of her internal conflicts as she recovered from the pon farr with the young Spock. An even bolder approach would have been a pregnancy and maybe some sort of story behind Saavik's attempt to either accept it or hide it. The nonsense in the book that centered around her rash actions and partaking in a cover-up and/or betrayal (which at times were difficult to follow) is absurd. She behaved more like a full-blooded Romulan than someone with substantial Vulcan training.

I didn't give the book one star because at least the author writes well, although the use of the fabricated pronouns "s/he" and "hir" was annoying. "It" and "its" would have sufficed. I got the point that the Deemonots were asexual. I still don't fully understand the use of the title 'Unspoken Truth' and question what Pocket Books was thinking when designing the book's cover. If Saavik is the protoganist, shouldn't it follow that her image be on the cover? It's clear that the publishers and other staff members of the 'Star Trek' line of novels should be people well versed in the 'Star Trek' universe. Poor Gene Roddenberry would not be happy with recent literary developments.

Look elsewhere if you're attempting to find a solid story with Saavik as one of its main characters.
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on March 26, 2013
This book does not seem to me to capture the character of Saavik as I have always envisioned her; I perceived her as being more thoroughly Vulcan, less troubled by submerged emotion than this author does. Still, the book is remarkably well-written, the characters internally consistent even if not, in my opinion, consistent with what was seen elsewhere (and what was seen elsewhere did not provide a sufficient statistical universe to conclusively establish that the author's perception of the character was wrong and mine right). The story was a very compelling, very enjoyable read, so I can find no reason not to grant it a full five stars.
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on June 11, 2013
There are a number of professional, beautifully written stories with Saavik already out there. Pandora Principle, A Little Training Cruise, ST II and ST III, and Vulcan's Heart just to name a FEW. They set her canon and established her character over the span of her life with power, intelligence, loyalty, courage and elegance.

And then someone wanted to write their own fan fiction and get it published. But not a quality fan fiction, mind you, where careful attention to keeping the character IN character is actually attempted. Or where a real effort is made to keep intact the relationships and history that already surround the character. No, this isn't that kind of fan fiction. This is an alternate universe fan fiction--and a very, very bad one at that.

Of course, if you haven't actually read all the other canon books, you might not actually notice the complete and utter mangling of the character--after all, some readers actually liked this grotesque Frankenstein-like Saavik as noted in other reviews. But for those that DID actually read the canon works and those that actually DO prefer the real Saavik we fell in love with, I warn you now that you will want to burn this book. Review wise or literally. Probably both.

Alternate universe rewrites may be popular, but they definitely aren't CLASSIC. And there is a reason for that--because they hold none of the power, intelligence or beauty of the original.

This book is one for the refuse pile, not the shelf.

It isn't our Saavik at all.
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on April 29, 2010
Unspoken Truth is classic Star Trek the way Gene Roddenberry intended it to be. This story involve Saavik immediately after Star Trek III The Search for Spock and concurrent with Star Trek The Voyage Home and a bit after that. While it explores some of her background on the planet Hellguard it also explores her relationship with an out of the ordinary scientist on a mission of exploration and the first contact with a very interesting new intelligent species of worms called the Deemanot and the second half of the book deals with her playing a roll as a spy on Vulcan. The familiar players are all well drawn even though Saavik, Sarek and Amanda are the ones we see the most. The spy story comes to a conclusion and then there is a nice leisurely 42 page wind down to the story that I thought was very appropriate. I highly recommend this novel for all Star Trek fans and especially fans of the original Star Trek.
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on April 27, 2010
I cannot see how anyone would not give this book five stars. I read this in two days because it was so engaging. The MUCH ignored character of Saavik is FINALLY fleshed-out! There is no way that Gene Roddenberry and co. would have taken this character where MWB has. Awesome!

I also LOVE how a good portion of the Tiburon species is depected (especially Zora....who's actions are finally explained, but still has mystery to her).

Very cagey of MWB to mention Peter Preston as only someone with great TREK knowledge would know the friendship between Saavik and himself.

I SO urge you to read this book if you ever even had an inkling whatever happened to Saavik (also see the book "The Pandora Principle" beforehand as reading that book first might give you a better understanding of what the planet Hellgaurd was all about).
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on April 14, 2010
This is a book to recommend, but read the book slowly. The twists and turns of this woman's guilt-ridden mind are not always easy to follow, especially when her movements and thoughts are complicated by the political machinations of Romulus, Vulcan and Earth. Who is she working for, one wonders. Of course there is a sort of a happy ending, although she still seems to have problems with her memory of Spock when he was regenerating from a young boy to a man, and how she helped him through it. But then, who wouldn't, since it was essentially an unloving experience with a man she loved.
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on December 26, 2014
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