February 1, 2014
Duology: Avalon, Book One
Author: Mindee Arnett ♥ @mindeearnett
January 21, 2014
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Summary from Goodreads: 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.
Average Goodreads Rating (as 01/25/2014): 3.84
- Christina thought this book was pretty good. It goes on her third shelf.
**SPECIAL NOTE:** An eARC of this title was provided by the publisher via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. However, that did not influence this review in any way. All thoughts, quotes, and opinions will be of this version and not of the published edition.
♠ Initial Thoughts and Rating: 3 stars! I waffled back and forth on my rating of this book as a whole, but decided that I loved some elements just as much as I was bored by others, so it actually settled well in the fair-to-good range. Generally, I’m a big fan of space operas when they’re done right. This had all the elements of a fantastic story, but I found it lacking in certain other aspects that left me craving more.
♠ My Thoughts: I’m skipping the part where I usually discuss the book’s plot with a little more depth because the latter part of Avalon is filled to the max with betrayals, action, and secret revelations that could easily be spoiled. So, instead of giving details, I’ll only be talking about my feelings on the book.
Everything about the premise drew me in: a ragtag band of teenage mercenaries (HOW BADASS AND FUN!), conspiracies and crime lords and corrupt governments (GIMME!) and sci-fi and intergalactic traveling with a spooky Bermuda Triangle-esque realm (EFF IT, I WANT TO CRAWL IN THIS BOOK RIGHT NOW, ADVENTURE AWAITS!). Additionally, there was a mention of it being a great read for fans of Joss Whedon’s show Firefly (I’ve never seen an episode, please don’t shun me!), so there was a bit of mystique for me going into it. The book started off with a bang, and I felt like I was getting ready to experience a book packed with action that would have me flipping page after page, but this is where I encountered my first issue. Avalon came at me with bursts and lulls. I was immediately intrigued, but then came the world-building, and though the author did a wonderful job of painting the picture of far-away galaxies and space stations and life among the stars and space ships, it also felt a bit like info-dumping. During this time, I found myself growing easily bored and distracted and losing interest. But just then when I felt like I was getting ready to set the book down for good, Arnett would capture my interest once more with a creepy escapade or twist in the story of an unexpected betrayal. So, on I went, periodically bored and periodically captivated, and that was my biggest complaint of the book… I wanted to be invested the entire length of the novel.
The plot was intriguing, though, and was easy to follow and be surprised by. The twists that came out at the end really caught me unaware and made for a bit of an exciting, fast-paced conclusion. That being said, it ended in such a good place, I can’t really figure out what more there could be left to explore in this world. It makes me wonder what the author is cooking up for the sequel (and final book in this duology), Meridian.
I also really enjoyed all the characters. I found myself laughing out loud at some of the crazy antics of the side characters, growing fond of the roles they filled in the book and how they added a layer of comic relief during all the times I was bored or tense. I was also really rooting for our main character, Jeth Seagrave. It’s not often that I find a male MC that both feels/reads authentically and is a character that I end up really liking the most in a novel. I appreciated being inside his head and the level of growth and maturation he underwent.
I will say that if you’re looking for a plot heavy in the romance department, you’ll probably be let down with this novel. There is a little fling, but it is far from being the main focus of this story. However, their attraction was magnetic, and so maybe their relationship will be expanded upon in the second installment because a solid foundation is already present.
♠ Rec It? Sure. I’ve seen varying levels of like and love on Goodreads, so I’m thinking maybe others liked Avalon more than I did. And that’s not saying that I didn’t like it, because I did, even loved some parts, but it was those pages of boredom that set me back a bit on my overall experience with the book. The ending had me racing through the pages, so if the middle of the book would have held my interest better, I can imagine I would’ve been shouting this book’s praises from the rooftops. As it stands, though, it was only greatly entertaining in some sections and lacking in others.
♠ A very special thanks to Balzer + Bray and Edelweiss for providing me with an early copy of this title in exchange for an honest review.