Series: Avalon #1
Published by Balzer & Bray on January 21, 2014
Genres: science fiction
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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.
When I was 21, a mutual acquaintance introduced me to Buzz Aldrin at a cocktail party. We had been talking for under thirty seconds when he just turned around and walked away. While I was in the middle of speaking. I got to talk to the second human to walk on the moon, and I was so boring he couldn’t even be bothered to make up a polite excuse for turning his back on me mid-sentence. It was the greatest moment of my life.
Because I love space. Space adventures are among my favorite things in the world. And Avalon is a really, really fun addition to this genre. I mean, it has laser guns and a cute boy. What is there to complain about?
Not much, but… well, a few things bothered me. For instance, two (male) members of the Avalon’s crew are virtually indistinguishable from each other, character-wise, and I cannot for the life of me figure out why they both need to exist within this story. And the plot twists are kind of obvious a little too far in advance. And there is an awful lot of double-crossing. And the romance is a little meh.
But—BUT—Jeth is such a great angsty boy. He starts out with just slightly more responsibility than he can handle, and the added pressure of taking care of his sister (with whom he has the absolute sweetest relationship) and his eclectic band of teenage mercenary crewmates (and their cat) gives him a nice emotional edge. When characters die, or are killed (bad guys and good), it means something to Jeth because he’s still young enough not to be completely jaded. He’s just a stressed-out teenager who is trying desperately to do the right thing. I didn’t really feel the chemistry between him and his love interest (which is, frankly, par for the course in this genre), but I wanted more than anything for it to work out for him. I really liked Jeth.
I liked most of the crew, actually. There’s a nice balance of important male and female characters, and strengths and weaknesses are divided pretty evenly among them. The stuff with Jeth’s little sister, Lizzie, who is coming into her own as a young woman and beginning to chaff at his over-protectiveness, is really lovely. And the bad guys are scary in interesting, creepy ways.
I prefer that my space stories stick to the basics, and I really only have a few needs: I won’t read a ton of misogyny (many of the beloved classics, like Dune, are no bueno when it comes to the treatment of the ladies) or racism, I am fine with fusing genres as long as it is subtle (I’m not a fan of Firefly because of the overuse of Western elements), and I prefer that things to be noticeably different because SPACE. Oh, and if the writing is bad, there had better be laser guns.
If you like Star Wars and Battlestar Galactica-style space operas, you will freaking love this book. If you look at the cover and think “This does not look like something I would ever enjoy reading,” you are probably right. I like space operas. I freaking love this book.
An advance copy was provided by the publisher for this review.