by Mindee Arnett
Hardcover: 432 pages
Publisher: Balzer + Bray (January 21, 2014)
Amazon | 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.
The summary is certainly correct in stating that Avalon is similar to Firefly. This was one of the main reasons why I wanted to read Avalon so badly, and it turned out that there were many similarities to Firefly in the book. In fact, at first I was annoyed with it because the story didn't seem very unique. Luckily, the book turned out to be full of surprising twists and I ended up liking it enough that I'd like to read the sequel.
I liked all the characters, and I had no trouble keeping track of all of them since they were basically similar to the characters in Firefly. But I couldn't help thinking that for other readers who haven't seen Firefly, all the characters might be confusing. And although I did like the characters - especially the main character, Jeth, and his snarkiness - I say "liked" lightly, because they never really felt very original. The only two that stuck out to me were Jeth's sister, Lizzie, and the love interest, Sierra. Lizzie is a lot like Kaylee in Firefly, but I liked how she and Jeth were siblings and had such a sweet relationship. And Sierra is pretty much the only character that can't exactly be matched up to a character in Firefly, so I liked her character's complexity.
The plot had its ups and downs for me. The first half starts out pretty slow, but I couldn't put the book down for the second half. There's a lot of tense action scenes and plenty of twists. I did guess one big twist because I've seen Firefly. *sigh* But I'm happy to say that there were a couple other twists I didn't see coming that really shocked me. And with that great ending (it ties up the main storyline but leaves a couple unanswered questions) I can't wait to read the sequel. Also, I should mention that this book is pretty heavy on the sci-fi side. While I love reading sci-fi, sometimes the descriptions and explanations can be confusing. But on the other hand, it shows that the author did her research, so I liked that too.
On the whole, I'm conflicted about Avalon. It has many similarities to the show Firefly, but it does have a strong plot, solid writing, and likeable characters. I did criticize it a bit, but I still enjoyed it and I'm glad I read it. I'm definitely going to read the sequel because I'm hoping it will be a lot more original and unique. I'd recommend Avalon to those who haven't seen Firefly. Otherwise, I think you'll find it a bit disappointing.
Content: Heavy violence and strong language. It can be a little gory at times - Jeth and his crew stumble upon dead bodies in a spaceship, characters are brutally tortured, etc. There's quite a bit of language, including a couple f-words and a few uses of the s-word. There was also some kissing and mild innuendo.