Friday, October 16, 2009

Honor Bound

Still catching up with the backlog...

Eleven of the twelve Deep Space Nine young adult books are about the misadventures of Jake Sisko and Nog during their early years there. This one's different. It's about Alexander, son of Worf, living on Earth with Worf's adoptive parents, the Rozhenkos. It ties in with the 1997 Day of Honor crossover about the Klingon holiday of the same name.

Unlike most of the Trek YA books, this one is a problem novel. Alexander is experiencing rages he can't control at a time when just being a Klingon on Earth is bad enough, because of the short-lived war with the Klingons prior to the Dominion War. He doesn't fit in at school any more, he's getting into trouble, fighting other kids, and the Rozhenkos are worried. So Worf comes home in time to visit for the Day of Honor.

Alexander's problem is simple: he's a pubescent Klingon. As is often the case in Star Trek, nature trumps nurture, and Alexander doesn't know how to deal with his inherently violent nature. Worf teaches Alexander mok'bara and reinforces the importance of honour for Klingons; he also tells Alexander about how he accidentally killed a classmate when he was young. Everything gets neatly resolved by the end of the book.

On the one hand, the book is kind of interesting because it does something the TV series almost never seemed to do: it treats Alexander as a character in his own right, not just as a problem for Worf to deal with. On the other hand, it does so in a very conventional story that could be turned into a 20th century YA book about, say, an Asian kid in the US during the Vietnam war, or an Arab kid more recently. Despite the reference to padds and Starfleet and shuttles and whatnot, life in the 24th century is essentially unchanged from 20th century American life. Home life, school, nothing's changed much at all.

As a character story, and a YA story, it's reasonably competent and entertaining, if a bit too easily resolved at the end. But for me, what it does most is point out that Alexander never got the character development he needed onscreen, and it's welcome for making an effort.


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