Avalon by Mindee Arnett
Book One in the Avalon Series
Published on January 21, 2014 by Balzer + Bray
Young Adult | Science Fiction | Dystopian
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.Jeth Seagrave lives in a world where a police force called the ITA monitors the planets and people can travel at the speed of light in their spaceships using metadrives. In this futuristic world, Jeth works for a powerful man named Hammer Dafoe, who's basically the equivalent to a drug overlord in today, stealing spaceships and metadrives from the ITA.
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.
On one of Jeth's missions, he runs into an ITA agent who's willing to work with Jeth to betray Hammer in exchange for information on Jeth's parents who were murdered by the ITA for treason. This supposed alliance starts Avalon off with a bang, which is something I appreciate.
There are few aspects of Avalon that are memorable--the beginning, Cora, and the ending. The way I see it, Avalon is extremely forgettable. There are strong parts in the novel--again, the beginning, Cora, the ending (in some ways)--but I feel as though the weak parts outweigh the strong.
Right off the bat, Jeth is thrown into action and being forced to make difficult decisions. The setback in starting a novel right off the bat is that none of the characters' decisions make sense to the reader, because they haven't connected with any of the characters yet. This was Avalon's biggest flaw to me: I didn't relate to any of the characters whatsoever. I could've cared less whether or not Jeth and his crew died, which is sad.
A really strong part of this book, as I mentioned above, is Cora, a little girl who escaped the ITA's clutches with the help of Sierra, a daring AWOL ITA officer, and the assistance of another AWOL ITA officer. Without spoiling the novel, I'll say that Cora's background made Avalon what it is right now.
The world-building is lacking immensely. As a reader, I never learned how this futuristic world came to be. These characters are in this universe with spaceships that can travel at the speed of light and practically jump themselves anywhere in space, and yet I'm never told how this was achievable.
In conclusion, I think hardcore science fiction lovers should stay away from this novel, but newbies or casual readers could pick this up and enjoy the adventure. Although the world was interesting and the plot was definitely adventurous, I don't think this book has what it takes to stick in my mind, considering I've already forgotten half the characters' names.