Avalon by Mindee Arnett
Publisher: Balzer & Bray
Release Date: January 2014
Synopsis: 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.
Review: So … If you read other reviews on this book, you will find that people have compared this to Firefly that Science Fiction show by Joss Whedon that got undeservingly got canceled. And they were right… because in my research the agent for the book even said it was pitched in that way. So… if you are a Firefly fan tread carefully. I don’t know which kind of fan you are: whether you hate those who try to emulate the show or love those who attempt… you know yourself best.
So… with that all said. I enjoyed the book, I thought it was a lot of fun. The reason why I didn’t give this a full 4 stars is because I kept thinking about Firefly. Characters cross over to resemble those in the other media… all this aside I will now talk about the book.
I enjoyed the space aspect. It was a very “spacey” book. Not spacey in the sense of how the term is associated with blondes but with stars and across space travel. The best part of the book for me was the dead zone -the Belgrave Quadrangle – the spooks of it all was a great curiosity and it helped me keep reading the book. The whole back story to this I also found interesting and it made sense in regards to the book’s world.
I also loved that everything of interest in explained within this first novel. The space travel and such… it bothers me so much when we have a series of books and the first book leaves readers with literally no answered question and only more questions… that just pisses me off. Avalon treats it’s reader with respect in this regard. Of course by the end more questions arises but the questions brought forth at the beginning of the book were mostly answered.
So… I had issues with character development. When I first began to read this book, I dislike Jeth immensely. I could not put a finger to it and I kept thinking it was because he was a cocky bastard – but as I continued to read I rejected that notion because he wasn’t cocky. It was something else. It took me 3/4 of the books to figure it out. The characterization of Jeth was off (and the other characters). There were things mentioned to characterize Jeth – to give him personality, but they were not consistent. These “personality traits” were mentioned once and then never touched upon again. Like correcting his sister’s speech once because he hates how she “sounds dumb” and so it bothers him immensely. But just once was this mentioned. Just once was she corrected. Just once did he think she could have been educated. This was there to put in shallow depth to the a character. It was like this for all the characters…. there were quirks and specific notions for each character but these quirks and notions were only ever presented once. It was more apparent for Jeth as he is our main character and we are in his head. For secondary characters, I can ignore this altogether, but not for our main character who was also our narrator.
Then there were the twists and turns of the book. I don’t know if it’s because I’ve read so many book and my mind is constantly trying to figure things out as I read… but I guessed most of them within the first few moments of encountering them…. even though the reveal wasn’t until near the end of the book. Little girl and ties to the story – got it – even a “wild” guess with her relations to other peoples. But nonetheless, it was nice to find out I was right and the reveals were planned appropriately.
This book was pitched as Firefly meets White Cat (by Holly Black) and I would agree generally. I can see the correlations. This is a fun book. I found it mostly enjoyable. And if I was a less critical reader in regards to writing… I would have absolutely loved this book.
Black Hole Sun by David Macinnis Gill
Why the Recommendation: Both books have a male “captian” or leader. Both books also seemingly have a second in command who are young ladies that doesn’t tremble in the face of violence. Both takes place outside of Earth… one in space and the other in Mars (Black Hole Sun).
Orbital Resonance by John Barnes
Why the Recommendation: Both books are mainly focuses on plot rather than romance (well in the case of Avalon…. initially). Of all the “space” books out there I felt most of them were either too heavy with romance or felt more like some other genre like Dystopia rather than space. This recommendation and Avalon has the feeling of space.