I'm a well read grad student who's bluntly honest about all things, although I try to be most honest about myself.
I find the switching between MTMtE and RiD, to be honest, distracting, mostly because it doesn't feel like you're reading one continuous story. It feels like distracting POV jumps. Still, this is such an excellent collection, I only knocked off one fourth of a star. The other fourth is for two reasons. One: because I always find The Death of Optimus Prime to be integral to his storyline, but a chore to read. Also, while Barber is an excellent storyteller, I'm spoiled by knowing what's to come: RiD isn't bad - in fact, it's a lot of fun and volume two was my gateway into this continuity because Dinobots - so much as his work gets so much more refined and nuanced later on, that this feels like an excellent author finding his way in retrospect. And this is, to be honest, not a knock-down in my opinion: some authors intuit what to write and how straight away, but most have to work at it. And if you ask me, I'd prefer the second kind of author. The struggle to reach that excellence can keep them from taking it for granted, or thinking that they don't have to or shouldn't hone their craft: they are the authors who, in my opinion, continue to excel. (There are exceptions both ways, but in my experience, this is what tends to happen.)
I say this because I feel like I've been comparing early Barber to early Roberts, and then to later Roberts. For me James Roberts has been one of those authors who's knocked it out of the park with a couple exceptions: some issues got too moribund for my taste and then he quickly injected the humor back into Lost Light in particular. I feel like I've been unfair to Barber, and so I'm explaining how I think of his writing at the present. The fact that I have changed my opinion about him as he grows means I may change my mind again: I may find him to slip, or to reach a point where he becomes, hands down, my favorite TF author.
I also am taking this much time explaining this because I think the context matters: how I view his work, and how it's evolved, does go into the rating. This works much better for me in the context of what is to come, from these storylines and from Barber himself. Reading this, I keep wanting to get further along, to what he does to Prowl, to the Dinobots in The Redemptions of the Dinobots, to Optimus Prime. I'm also eager to sit back and enjoy watching the evolution of his writing. So in a way, this is so high because in retrospect, that evolution is well worth watching and reading and it elevates this reading experience for me. Furthermore, I'm less sneer-y now that I've seen it once, and I'm just allowing myself to sit back and enjoy the ride.
Anyway, this has the Death of Optimus Prime and the beginning issues of More Than Meets the Eye and Robots in Disguise. A bunch of fun so far. I'm knee deep in Autocracy which starts off the next volume.
Note: "allowing myself" at one point autocorrected to "blowing myself". Vin's just being naughty now.