Avalon (Avalon #1) by Mindee Arnett
January 21, 2014
Balzer & Bray (Macmillan)
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* ARC courtesy of the lovely Kelly @ Effortlessly Reading
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.
Avalon was touted as a Firefly/Battlestar Galatica-esque YA about teenagers traversing the universe, stealing stuff and whatnot, so I, obviously, was excited and had a lot of expectations for it. What can go wrong? (I’m sure you know by know that I’m a huge fan of both shows.) Of course, this book didn’t actually live up to them (in terms of character development), but surprisingly, I wasn’t as disappointed as I initially thought I would be? I enjoyed it (once I got 100 pages into it) because of the space travel and the ~mystery of the Belgrave Quadrant.
- Space travel!
I can never say no to space travel! The idea of flying through space makes me incredibly giddy. In a way, I was living vicariously through the Malleus Shades (Jeth’s crew name) when I read Avalon. I love hearing all the names for ships and planets, and a bit of the history behind it. Space is cool, okay?
- The Belgrave Quadrant mystery
The Belgrave is basically like the Bermuda Triangle but in space. Anything that comes in there suddenly disappears and that’s so cool! It’s so creepy though too! Very weird occurrences happen. Mysterious holes appear in the ship walls, body parts torn apart, piercing wails that can bring an enemy down, items disappears out of your hand. I actually got the shivers when I was reading through those parts. And when you find out what’s causing it, prepare yourself for awesomeness.
- Jeth’s family
I am completely fascinated by his family. Robert and Marian, Jeth’s and Lizzie’s parents, were space explorers and traveled in the Belgrave Quadrant a lot, but they were executed by the ITA because they were accused of treason. You find out the truth about what actually happened, and let me tell you, my jaw totally dropped. And then, you have Uncle Milton, who is a doctor and a drunk. Jeth basically has to provide for them — Milton and Lizzie — and does it by working for Dafoe. I love that family means everything to Jeth (as it should) and that they are with him every step of his journey.
I love all the corruption of all the governing bodies in this universe. You have the Interstellar Transport Authority (ITA), who control space travel; Echoes, who are special operatives for the ITA; and Hammer Dafoe, who is an “interstellar crime lord” and governor of Peltraz Spaceport (the place that Jeth lives). Nobody can be trusted. They’re all after one thing: money.
- To connect with the characters and see them grow
I felt no emotional connection with any of them. I didn’t find myself rooting for them. I honestly did not care if something bad happened to them. They felt like shells with absolutely no depth to fit a certain archetype that did nothing to help the story. Sure, you can give them a sad backstory, but that doesn’t make them ~deep and complicated people if you don’t follow through on how they work through their issues. (That was the problem I had with Celeste. Nothing happened with her.)
There was no character growth in Avalon. Every character never really changed throughout their ordeal. They all fade into the background. And that may be because the supporting characters aren’t focused on, even though they are an integrate part of Jeth’s life. That’s the problem of having 10+ characters with no character development.
- To get the family ~feels between the crew
The friendship in Firefly is everything to me, so I was absolutely heartbroken that I didn’t feel that way about the Malleus Shades. The lack of character development plays a big role in my inability to connect with them as individual characters and as a team. It sucks because I wanted to root for them. I wanted to ~loooovveeee them. :\
- For Jeth to be less naive
For somebody who grew up in a tough and harsh world, Jeth’s experiences should’ve hardened him, but he was weirdly naive about people’s intention. To me, his brain went, “let’s forget that these people are not to be trusted because their loyalties lie somewhere else, and be allies with them because that will totally work.” (Spoiler: it doesn’t. It never works like that.)
He was [spoiler]double-crossed a bunch of times[/spoiler] and I wished he learned from his previous mistake and prepared himself. How many times will Jeth [spoiler]be undermined[/spoiler] until he learns to not trust people? (Answer: Apparently one or two wasn’t enough.) If I were Jeth, I would be extremely wary of strangers (even if they know something about what I’m looking for) and I would surely not work with a brainwashed henchman. Like, c’mon, Jeth. Think. You got to be better prepared for this.
- Less romance, more friendships
Yuck. Do you know how many times I rolled by eyes at the “romance” in this? You know what Jeth and Sierra lacked? Chemistry. That build-up. That swoon factor. I gagged every time Jeth thought about how pretty and feisty she is or how he wants to secretly please her with his hip. Ugh. I preferred it if they became friends instead. That would’ve been much better than to see this forced romance.
I wish Avalon wasn’t compared to Firefly because it had big shoes to fill, and it didn’t do the absolutely best job in doing so. I expected a lot from the characters, but in the end, I didn’t feel the emotional connection with them and that sucks. Regardless of that, I did enjoy it. Avalon is a good story with lots of space travels, action, and double crosses that won’t disappoint.