The Lost Years is one of the first Star Trek novels to address the murky period between the end of the original series and Star Trek: The Motion Picture. People at Paramount must’ve liked it, since J.M. Dillard replaced Vonda McIntyre at the helm of the prose adaptations of the movies. While it has it’s moments, and has a lot of action, it doesn’t compare to other examinations of the same period (like the first two books of the Crucible series).
The coup for me in this book was bringing back Kevin Riley, a featured player on two of the original series episodes (“The Naked Time” and “Conscience of the King”), but he’s brought back as such a simpering wretch, you’d almost rather the author hadn’t bothered. We also have Spock’s father, Sarek, and are introduced to a number of new characters that sort of meld into the background like furniture, no matter if Kirk is having sex with them or not. Spock’s characterization is completely off in this one, as he comes off annoyed, miffed, and even pissed at Kirk. So much for all that Vulcan training and such controlling his emotions.
And the antagonist in this one is basically a super-villain; he has amazing, deadly powers that he uses to kill creatures all over the place. Give him a fancy costume and he could fight the X-Men; it was a bit too four-color for a proper Star Trek adventure.
While it was an interesting effort, the whole equation adds up to a lackluster Star Trek novel.