Book Review: Avalon by Mindee Arnett
Series: Avalon #1
By: Mindee Arnett
Author Info: Website| Twitter | Goodreads
Age Group: Young Adult
Genre Type: Science Fiction,
Publication Date: January 21st 2014
Pages: 432 pages
Publisher: Balzer & Bray
A ragtag group of teenage mercenaries who crew the spaceship Avalon stumble upon a conspiracy that could threaten the entire galaxy in this fascinating and fast-paced sci-fi adventure from author Mindee Arnett.
Of the various star systems that make up the Confederation, most lie thousands of light-years from First Earth-and out here, no one is free. The agencies that govern the Confederation are as corrupt as the crime bosses who patrol it, and power is held by anyone with enough greed and ruthlessness to claim it. That power is derived from one thing: metatech, the devices that allow people to travel great distances faster than the speed of light.
Jeth Seagrave and his crew of teenage mercenaries have survived in this world by stealing unsecured metatech, and they're damn good at it. Jeth doesn't care about the politics or the law; all he cares about is earning enough money to buy back his parents' ship, Avalon, from his crime-boss employer and getting himself and his sister, Lizzie, the heck out of Dodge. But when Jeth finds himself in possession of information that both the crime bosses and the government are willing to kill for, he is going to have to ask himself how far he'll go to get the freedom he's wanted for so long.
Avalon is the perfect fit for teens new to sci-fi as well as seasoned sci-fi readers looking for more books in the YA space-and a great match for fans of Joss Whedon's cult hit show Firefly
Confession: I grew up on shows like Star Trek, Battlestar Galactica, and yes, even Buck Rogers. Movies like 2001: A Space Odyssey and Star Wars were absorbed by my teenage self like water to a sponge. So yes, I was pretty excited to have the opportunity to read an advance copy of Avalon by Mindee Arnett.
I’m happy to say I enjoyed reading Avalon and liked it’s great sci-fi storyline. I would say that it’s more of an action and adventure driven plot. It’s teen characters have lots of great potential and give the story a fun and fresh feel, but it was the sci-fi elements, world-building, and twisty plots that made Avalon a fun read.
Avalon takes us deep into space, into exciting and frightening future where space travel across light years is possible by means of meta technology. Unfortunately it's manufacturing and control is held by ITA, the Interstellar Transportation Agency, a corrupt agency that fights to retain it’s hold on the secret technology. This is the world Jeth Seagrave and his teenage crew of mercenaries function in. Their crime boss, Hammer, enjoys power and loves to thwart the ITA as often as he can, by stealing right under their noses by the use of the Malleus Shades, aka the Shades. Jeth, his younger sister Lizzie, and the Shades all work for Hammer. Mostly orphans taken in by him and joined together, each of their unique talents making up the crew. Jeth takes on these special jobs in hopes of buying back his ship, the Avalon, which was lost to Hammer when his parents died. Owning it means his freedom, as well as his sisters, and the Shades who are more like family than crew to him. Their latest job: enter into the Belgrave Quadrant and bring back a ship that went missing and return it and it's mysterious content to their crime boss, Hammer. Known across the galaxy as The Devil's Boneyard, this Bermuda's Triangle in space ends up being only one of the problems Jeth and the Shades will have to face before all is said and done.
In true space opera fashion, almost all of the action and setting of Avalon takes place within space which I really liked. The book does take awhile to get off the ground, with some back story, world-building, and twisty plot setup slowing it down a bit as the stage is prepared for Avalon's action and space adventure. There's plenty of futuristic tech talk and gadgets to please even the most enthusiastic science fiction aficionado. Once Jeth and the crew reach the Belgrave Quadrant, the story and pace really begins to pick up. This was really one of my favorite parts of the book. The Belgrave Quadrant had an almost otherworld/paranormal feel to it, and what Jeth and the crew discover in it kept me glued to the book. I liked the turn of events and new plot additions at this point and thought it added a whole new layer to the story. At this point, the plot and action shoots off with tons of plot twists, betrayals, and exciting discoveries all the way till the very end of Avalon.
Told from Jeth’s point of view, the narration is in third person which was fun for me being inside Jeth’s head, but at the same time his character, although likeable, felt somewhat detached. He’s a bit of an adrenaline junkie, and loves nothing more than being in the thick of action and danger. He is also very determined to get back the Avalon (the last remaining thing he has left of his parents) from Hammer. He’s sweet and protective over his younger sister Lizzie, as well as the other members of his crew. Sometimes he is too trusting, which ends up getting him and the Shades into dangerous situations, but he means well.
The other members of the Shades were all fun to get know know, each with a distinct personality and trait special to them. I really liked Celeste who is in charge of counterintelligence (she uses her femme fatale abilities to distract their marks) and piloting. She was pretty kick-butt and I liked her strong, self-assured personality. Shady's assigned role is ordnance office, and know as joyrider, who loves to shoot in real life as well as on his gadgets and games. Flynn's was the mechanical genius, known for having the appetite of someone three times his size. His job as engineer was fixing and building of the Shades ships and weapons. Then there is of course Lizzie, Jeth’s baby sister, and at only thirteen she is already brilliant with computers, and joining the crew on their newest mission in the Belgrave Quadrant. She’s super sweet and adds a lot of comic relief in tight situations.
There is a small romance that comes along the way, and although it was kind of cute, I really didn’t feel much of it. This is one of the cases where the story would have been fine without it. I didn't feel a lot of connection between the two romantically. So no swoon.
I would recommended Avalon to readers who enjoy science fiction, and who are looking for a read heavy on the sci-fi elements, action and thriller aspect, rather than characterization. It was a fun read, the last half of the story really picking up the pace with some great action and plot twist along the way.
My Rating: 3.5 stars. I liked it.
A courtesy review copy of this book was provided by Balzer & Bray via Edelweiss in exchange for my fair review. Thank you Balzer & Bray for the review opportunity!