Review — Star Trek: Lower Decks — Crew Handbook

Lower Decks USS Cerritos Handbook, four faces are on the side of the font, a young Black woman, a young green woman, a young white man, and a young Black man with a visor over one eye

Overview

Synopsis Join the staff of the U.S.S. Cerritos from Star Trek: Lower Decks. Learn the importance of the Prime Directive, see different colored phasers, and become a valued member of Starfleet.

Author Chris Farnell
Publisher Titan Books
Genre Science Fiction, Informational

Length 176 pages

Release Date December 19, 2023

When someone talks about being a geek, Star Trek is often mentioned. The last few years have seen a revival of Trek content, much to the delight of younger fans like myself, who were not alive to see the advent of The Original Series (TOS) or even The Next Generation (TNG). Star Trek: Lower Decks is one of the series in this revival and is the first adult animation of the franchise (for more information about the show itself, check out our review here). This book ties fans directly to the show by giving them an inside look at how the U.S.S. Cerritos is run…sort of.

"Captain Carol Freeman Welcomes You" Black woman with wrinkles and a gray streak smiles at the viewer, beside a blurry wall of text

Content Guide

Violence/Scary Images: Cartoon violence with some blood.

Language: Use of “hell” as a swear and a** once or twice each. Censored cussing is described as so bad there are no translated equivalents.

Drug/Alcohol References: Alcoholic drink recipes are included in the back of the book. Ale is mentioned.

Sexual Content: Some implicit sexual innuendo.

Other Negative Content: None

Spiritual Content: None

Positive Content: This book will make you laugh if you enjoy its original iteration.

Review

This reviewer received a copy of this book from the publisher.

If you have watched Lower Decks, you know what you are getting into by reading Star Trek: Lower Decks — Crew Handbook. As its name suggests, this book is written as a manual for new recruits on board the starship U.S.S. Cerritos. However, there is a Lower Decks twist in that this handbook is not a finished copy. It features commentary from the show’s characters as they update the chapters to align with new Federation standards. This editorial column gives reading this title an immersive feel like the reader is part of the crew.

There is no narrative to uncover. The book is more like an encyclopedia, featuring various species, technologies, and customs of the Star Trek universe — with the bonus of snarky comments from Ensign Mariner. Made for fans, the handbook utilizes inside jokes and Cerritos crew rapport that will likely fly over the head of someone who has never seen the show.

From Animation to Print

For a spin-off of an adult series, this handbook is surprisingly clean. There are few curses that are not redacted and little to no sexual commentary. Star Trek parents will be able to give this book to their children without worry (just be aware the show does contain a bit more objectionable content).

Lower Decks is animated. Thus, there are plenty of pictures; most are taken directly from the show. Characters have been drawn over the background images, but more original art especially for the handbook would have been nice. Additionally, some of the pictures are blurry. The meta-book is supposed to be unfinished, and I can overlook photo blurriness in the name of intentional immersion. However, the simple layouts and blurriness give this handbook the feel of a high school yearbook and not a professionally published title.

Conclusion

The character interactions and pseudo-science might be a bit much for a casual fan. However, Trekkies/Trekkers will enjoy the lengthy explanations of ship functionality, phaser settings, and cultural customs. Lower Decks viewers will laugh at the bickering in the edits, and even the most casual fan will enjoy the name-drop of Picard, who is present with his own essay (sort of).

If you are a Lower Decks fan, this is a good read. I have a hard time recommending it to anyone else, even Trekkies/Trekkers unfamiliar with the current series. The handbook assumes readers will be familiar with the characters and does nothing to introduce them. The fuzzy photos and (hopefully intentional) unfinished look, complete with editorial comments, make it a strange read for non-fans, but a fun addition for franchise lovers.

Positives

+ More Lower Decks!
+ True to character interactions
+ Original idea

Negatives

- Requires a lot of prior knowledge
- Blurry photos
- Not much original art

The Bottom Line

This crew handbook is a fun romp through the Lower Decks world for fans. Newcomers should start elsewhere if they want to understand.

 

Story/Plot 8

Writing 7

Editing 5

6

Courtney Floyd

Courtney has loved reading since she was a child. Kid's books, YA, memoirs, comics, graphic novels, manga, anything. She also loves bingeing anime, keeping up with her favorite shows like Star Trek, and playing video games. She has two dogs named Kora and Crash (after the Airbender series and Crash Bandicoot, respectively).

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