Atonement kicked off with a rather disjointed prologue that left anyone wanting to follow up with the ending of the previous Acts of Contrition in a state of confusion, unless you have followed the series from Unworthy.
The novel is appropriately titled, because many of the characters set about doing just that, with the exception of Commander Briggs.
“I know how easy it is to forget that when you are in pain. Don’t allow that pain to guide you. Don’t make mistakes for which you might never have the opportunity to atone.”
~ Julia Paris to Phoebe Janeway
The extent that Briggs managed to compromise Starfleet Medical in the pursuit of his “secret experiments” just goes to prove that Admiral Willem Batiste was right that “there are dark holes in the Federation that most of you refuse to acknowledge”.
The more I read the Voyager series, the more I get this uncomfortable feeling that Kathryn Janeway was way too trusting of her enemies for the good of her own crew. Her misplaced trust in Lsia could have gotten the entire Voyager crew killed. In Chinese, it’s called 妇人之仁.
As a result of her poor and reckless decision-making, the entire fleet is often placed in constant danger. Surprisingly, most of the crew simply indulged her.
I know many people are fans of Janeway, but I found her increasingly unlikable and judgmental.
For instance, it was ironic that Janeway took Torres to task for creating her own access key to override all security protocols and allow her to directly access the central processors, even if her command codes have been disabled.
“I’ve been told by my superior officers that I sometimes have difficulty following orders I don’t agree with.” (Janeway)
Janeway also appeared to have poor judgement on people:
“Ken Montgomery resigned.” (Janeway)
“Not of his own accord, I hope,” Chakotay said, his smile fading. “He didn’t deserve an escape hatch.”
“Akaar would never say, but I don’t believe it was Ken’s choice.”
“Either way, Starfleet is well rid of him.”
“He wasn’t a bad man, Chakotay.”
FYI, Montgomery was the Admiral who tried to block Tom Paris’ whistle-blowing on Briggs, a man who Seven described as “a follower of rules” “who has demonstrated sufficient appreciation for ethically murky situations”.