One of my favorite episodes of TNG is "The First Duty" where the Enterprise goes back to Earth and Wesley Crusher is involved in a shuttle accident at the Academy. I don't know why, but something about the Academy intrigues me. I love the Academy books for the younger Star Trek fans and I loved this book.
There is a few familiar faces in this book like Admiral Paris, Jadzia Dax makes an appearance for a personal friend, B'Elanna Torres is even mentioned, but the lead characters in this book are a group of made-up cadets that go through the first stages of their career together. Anyone who has ever left home or tried to make a dent in this world can relate somehow these characters. Jayme Miranda comes from a family of engineers, but she's learning fast that you aren't always born to do what the rest of your family is. Bobbie Ray Jefferson is a large Rex that is about to learn a little about his heritage and himself. Moll Enor is the first host for her symbiont and is struggling to give it all the memories she feels a good first host gives, but she's also has to learn that can include falling in love. Hammon Titus is daring and ready to jump into anything. This usually gets him in trouble, but it'll make him a hero in the end. Starsa is an alien youngster old enough to be in the Academy, but hasn't gone through puberty yet and is almost accepted as the child of the group when she suddenly becomes a woman right before her friends' eyes. Then there's the Bajoran Nev Reoh who knows that he's destined to be a failure in everything because of his past, but can't let it dictate who he'll become. These six are about to take you on a journey.
It seems to be tradition that any good future Starfleet officer has to be stupid in their Academy years and get caught for it and this group is no different. Usually Jayme Miranda comes up with the idea, but the others always follow with Titus pushing them a little bit further every time. They get caught plenty of times and despite their reprimands on their records, they always seem to skate by and breeze through. Graduations have some of them leaving the Academy, but the years change the friends and some of them develop romances. They are all there for each other in times of need though. The growing pains may be rough and they may not all get along, but they never let each other down.
Three of the six are on the Enterprise-D when it is destroyed on Veridian III and news is that one of them is dead. Suddenly all the survivors have to grow up fast and reality sets in. All their memories come flooding back and you relive it with them as they each tell their own portion of the story. In the end they come back together to be the strong-hold for one another after their careers separate them. Nothing like a death to remind you of how precious life is and how all those petty things you were worrying about a few minutes ago mean nothing now. It's even harder to face that when you're still young like these cadets and ensigns are. At least they had each other.
I'm a sucker for any Academy story, so this was a real treat for me. Some of the characters didn't exactly come off properly though and some of the surprises in the romance department really threw me off. I do believe that Wright could have been a little stronger in the character side of the story. She had awesome characters, but I don't think she really knew what she wanted to do with them or how to show each one off properly. I liked the story and will probably read the book again, but it's not going down as one of the TNG books ever written.
Title: The Best and the Brightest
Author: Susan Wright
Review by: CL6 Amanda Sielu Paris