Monday, March 1, 2010

Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan Review

Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan

A novel by Vonda N. McIntyre

Based on the Screen play; “The Wrath of Khan” paramount pictures film

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This book was amazing and as captivating as the movie. I feel some things, not mentioned in the movie but mentioned in the book, explained several if not all the characters better.

The first character I found that had more background story than the others was Lieutenant Saavik. McIntyre tells us about her past, how she was literally ‘thrown’ away to the wilds on a planet named Hellguard and left to fend for herself. She apparently grew up as a savage, killing for food and killing to survive. Apparently, neither of her parents laid claim to her and if they had, she would have killed the Romulan for abandoning her. Then, she would have begged the Vulcan to forgive her for being born. That’s a sad life and as the story implies, Romulan’s and Vulcan’s don’t breed at all. It’s considered a shame to the Vulcan’s however the Romulan’s desire Vulcan’s more often than their own kind.

Saavik is taken in by Spock, who is at Hellguard fighting for the rights of these abandoned children, and brings her to Starfleet. He becomes her mentor and teacher, helping her to control her aggressive Romulan tendencies and embrace the calm, spiritual nature of the Vulcan life. The author makes many references to the two interacting often, to see how much Lieutenant Saavik actually looks up to Spock. There is a scene where Spock is eating lunch in the cafeteria and Saavik sits with him, curious to know more about her emotions for a friend she meets. I found this scene to be very moving; there is a part where Spock is explaining her emotions to her and telling her that she must learn to, ‘find her own way and make her own choices’, in regards to her emotions and feelings for others- humans in particular. At this response, Saavik gets upset and nearly towering over Spock screams that she is not to give into such impudent emotions! But, as calm as ever, Spock simply asks her to sit down and to heed that what he says is not an insult, but a query of one’s own well being. Having the respect she does for him, she backs off and does what he asks. I really liked that! As the book goes on, we see how the two have actually learned from one another and the common pains they both share. 

The next person it elaborates on is Peter Preston, Scotty’s 14 year old nephew who is working in engineering with him. He is an eager young boy with incredible knowledge and talent. However, he becomes upset when his uncle tells Admiral Kirk that he is his nephew! Peter didn’t want anyone to know that because he was sure they would think he only got on board because he knew someone- he didn’t do it himself. Wanting to get his uncle back, he makes an offhanded joke to Kirk, basically telling him his blind. Scotty plays it off for now, but later they confront each other before Peter heads off to math lessons with Lieutenant Saavik. In any case, an argument ensues between he and his uncle. Scotty starts lecturing him about embarrassing him in front of Kirk. Then Peter shoots back with Scotty embarrassing him in front of his co-workers! Scotty finally threatens that he will make the next few days hell for him, and that he needs to back off his, ‘girlfriend’, lieutenant Saavik! Peter spits something crude to Scotty then shoots off and out of the engineering room before his uncle can grab him! This is the friend that Saavik later asks Spock about, wondering why Peter was very red and somewhat embarrassed when speaking to her later about what he and his uncle had argued about. He purposely leaves out the fact that he has a crush on her, and it’s not till that moment when Saavik talks to Spock about it, does she realize how the young boy now felt.

Our next character would be Admiral Kirk. My impression that I got from him in the movie, was that he was cold, hard and somewhat aloof. Not so in the book. Throughout the entire novel Kirk’s character is actually very compassionate and ‘playful’ if you will. To express his companionship with his comrades, there is a scene in the engine room where he, Scotty and Dr. McCoy are laughing about the joke/insult that Peter pulled on Kirk! He is floored but then starts laughing, telling Scotty that he ‘likes this kid!’ A compassionate scene that lays particularly firm in my mind, was the part where Peter dies trying to save the engine room, suffering radiation poisoning. Kirk, although remaining composed, later breaks down and feels guilty for having let the young man die this way. Later again when Chekov is injured from the worm that slips out of his ear, Jim remains by his side, worried for him hoping he will make it. A very different take on the Kirk I remember from the movie. He seemed, condescending and short.

My final character is, can you guess? Khan Sighn. I must say I was more taken by the book version of Khan his movie counterpart. Khan, in the novel, is way more menacing and cruel than the movie. There is a scene where Khan boards Regulus I and becomes infuriated that the scientists deleted the Genesis data then left a video game running to mock his intelligence. He kills two of the supporting staff, a cook and a housekeeper, and then tortures the three remaining scientists horribly! It was gruesome and cruel, but I was highly shocked at how well the author captured Khan’s true evil nature. She expressed him as, sanely insane and driven by hate. That’s probably the best way to put it actually.

I give the, “Star Trek 2: The Wrath of Khan” novel, a highly recommended read! Surely you’ve seen the movie, but the book explains so much more and in detail. There are other characters that are mentioned in the book that weren’t in the movie. Though they may not have been in the movie, they support the leading characters and give the book more life and passion. You wouldn’t be disappointed to read it at all! Until next time...

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