Author: Mindee Arnett (Twitter)
Publisher: Balzer & Bray
Publish Date: January 21, 2014
Genre: YA, Sci-Fi
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.
I've said it a million times, but I'll gladly say it again - this is going to be the year of the resurgence of science fiction in young adult. Since a young age, I've been a fan of the genre, both in literature and in film, but I've found that it's somewhat died down in popularity over time. That, in large part I'm sure, is why the premise of Avalon worked so very well for me. The combination of space, crime, mystery and survival is exactly what I was looking for, and this is the type of novel that truly delivers. Mindee Arnett offers readers a rich world that's cold, alluring and, ultimately, hauntingly perfect.
I'd be daft to say that Avalon wasn't without its hitches, but it must be said that the novel develops upon the initial issues I found myself grappling with. For example, as many reviewers have attested, the novel takes a while to truly start. I was initially frustrated with the book for the first 100 or so pages, but I found very quickly that Ms. Arnett was taking the time to do something very important. In those "slower" pages, the author was developing a firm foundation for a new series, which is so often overlooked in novels these days. Rather than simply jump into action and interjecting details throughout, Avalon lays the groundwork from the start, establishing backstory and a rich world that undeniably transforms the latter half of the book and, I'm sure the series.
Once the plot gets going though, it's like a runaway train, building momentum steadily until a conclusion that left me desperate for the next installment of the series. I do believe it should be mentioned though, that the plot devices, the twists and the turns overshadowed the characters a bit. Jeth, though a solid character, felt a bit detached for me, and I wasn't truly able to understand or appreciate his point of view until the back half of the novel. This did leave me feeling that the romance was also a bit flatter than I'd anticipated, but not unforgivably so. Plus, there is no love triangle, which is a huge element in its favor after all.
Most of all though, Avalon delivers science fiction, pure and true to readers of all ages. With a touch of a Fireflyesque feel, so long as readers remain invested in the novel, the action, suspense and drama will be readily delivered in the latter half of the book. The whirlwind nature of the escalating plot left me breathless, and it truly distracted me from the fact that it's not necessarily a character-driven novel. And, ultimately, the author gives readers what they ask for, though she makes us work for it in the best possible way.
Overall, I found Avalon to be a challenging, intriguing and successful science fiction novel. It wasn't without its flaws, but it gave me the type of science fiction that I've been craving, so I can't fault it all that much. I give it a strong 4 out of 5, and I highly recommend it to YA fans of true science fiction that is heavy on action.
I received this book free of charge from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This, in no way, affected my opinion or review of this book.