I was not prepared to like this novel. I'm not a particular fan of the movie, it's ok but I felt it went against rules set out in the show and was basically a mess. A fun mess but a mess. Then I started reading the book and I was hooked. You don't even reach the beginning of the movie until 20 pages in because they are wrapping up stuff from the last movie and dealing with the aftermath of the fal-tor-pan (because duh, of course there would be consequences!). It goes on to discuss why McCoy acts slightly off in this movie and why Spock does as well (though one can guess, having it in black and white helps). We get a better understanding of the Probe and why it's attacking the earth. We learn more about Gillian; I might actually come kinda close to buying taking her with them. We get the cut scene of Sulu meeting his great-great-great grandfather and we better understand Chekov's situation on the ship as well as get to see Kirk lay some Vulcan smack down on the doctor! Why was that not in the movie?! We are even given a hint of why Kirk might have been open to the idea of taking Gillian with them, even though I continue to maintain that it was the dumbest thing he ever did (and we are talking about the guy who agreed to Kal-if-fee without knowing what it was!). My favorite parts had to be the looks into Sarek's mind - his reasons, motives, and thoughts during all of these. Most one can infer from Mark Leonard's wonderful performance but it is nice to have it confirmed. All in all, a great book that explains (EXPLAIN MOVIE, EXPLAIN) what it is going on and really helps one's understanding.
Ahem...TIME TRAVEL WAS ALWAYS SHOWN TO BE NOTHING BUT A BAD IDEA IN THE SERIES! WHAT THE HECK IS THIS? WHY THE HECK DO THEY CONSIDER TAKING A PERSON OUTSIDE OF THEIR TIME AND MESSING UP THE TIMELINE A GOOD IDEA? THE WHOLE PREMISE IS STUPID!
Ahem, now that that's off my chest, let me say I don't mind the whole whale thing. I think it's a great idea, mankind condemning itself unknowingly and going back in an attempt to repopulate (within in reason). However, the crew makes so many amateur mistakes that they don't make in the tv show when they were younger and less experienced?! Don't make no sense. They make at least three major changes to the timeline and don't bat an eye. You can't tell me that's not against the Prime Directive, among other things. As a movie, it's enjoyable; as a part of the Star Trek canon, it's a mess.
If you've watched the movie, I would read this book. Like the other adaptations of the movies, this novel answers a lot of questions one is left with as well as being a very enjoyable read.
Note: I actually quite like this cover. I'm pretty sure its one of the movie posters, but I still think it's a great picture.