Back in 2004 and 2005, the A Time To... series led straight into Titan: Taking Wing which lead straight into Articles Of The Federation, and all these books nicely referred to each other, mutual characters and continuity, all sorts of good stuff. Unified whole. Even Death In Winter, Michael Jan Friedman's post-Nemesis novel about Picard and Crusher, fit in to the universe pretty well.
So after all this nicely done continuity, the only thing I can figure is that the editor (editors?) decided at least one series needed to stand on its own and not bother with the overarching details, because then we got Resistance, J. M. Dillard's thoroughly underwhelming Borg story, and suddenly there were no references to the earlier novels. Or established continuity about the Borg, or events from the A Time To... series, or anything. It was jarring.
And from that book on this series has gotten it completely backwards. All the stuff that should stay the same from book to book - consistent characters, long-term relationships, that kind of thing - has been scattered and random, and all the stuff that should vary from book to book - variety in storyline, villains, that kind of thing - has stayed the same. For instance, in Resistance, we were introduced to a new helmsman, tactical officer, and counselor. The helmsman and tactical officer die. Then, in Q&A, the next book, we get a new tactical officer and (finally) an ops officer, to replace Data. That's all well and good until Before Dishonor, which manages to stunningly mischaracterize all three ongoing characters so far. And then we get this entry, which takes two of those characters and kicks them off the ship and introduces three MORE new characters, in the mean time explaining to us the story of at least one OTHER character that came on the ship only to leave a few weeks later. It's just... a complete failure of an ongoing series.
And, get this - Resistance and Before Dishonor were both about the Borg! And so is this one! So overlayed on top of this inability to keep track of characters or any traits thereof, we get the numbing repetitiveness of the same villain three times... oh, and, by the way, they're going to be the villain in the NEXT three books, too.
Now, I should add that Bennett is a fantastic writer, and given these circumstances, this book is probably the best it could've been. It's as different a story about the Borg as one could do in a standalone, and there's some attempt to turn the lack of consistent new characters into a story about family. It would almost have worked, had there not been so many problems with the TNG relaunch so far that the entire first third of Greater Than The Sum is just fixing plot holes and abruptly tying off character arcs.
It's funny, because the Star Trek books these days are spectacular, utterly fabulous, better than they've ever been. Between Vanguard, Titan, New Frontier, the Deep Space Nine Relaunch, The Lost Era, and all the others, there has never been a better time to be a fan of the Trek novels. And, despite the fact that it'll be Borg-centered again, the Destiny trilogy that starts in October - written by the biggest, baddest, most epic Trek author ever, David Mack - promises to be pretty fantastic.
But somehow, in all that awesome, the TNG relaunch has been all but a total failure. This is four books in a row now that, despite using the same subject matter over and over, seem bound and determined to re-relaunch the whole series with each novel, with a completely new supporting cast. I sincerely hope we're done with that now, and everything after this stays consistent, because this is really irritating.
If you're a completest, you probably already own the TNG-relaunch books; if you aren't, I think I'd pretty much recommend reading Death In Winter along with all the other books that take place right after Nemesis, and then skipping right to the Destiny trilogy. There's no possible way it could make less sense than actually trying to decipher logic in these four novels' mishmash of failed arcs and 'continuity'.