Published: January 21st, 2014
Publisher: Balzer and Bray
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.
I am a huge fantasy fan, but my second and probably oldest love, is SF. It's hard to find good YA SF, my most favourite recent offering being the 'Black Hole Sun' trilogy by David MacInnis Gill, so it was a lovely treat to see another title hit the shelves. (For those of you about to protest, yes Across the Universe et al, fit the bill too :) )
It is a nice change of pace to get a compelling family story set in space, even if the family isn't all by birth, but more by circumstance. Each member of the family was easily recognisable as an individual and not just clones. The ship - the Avalon of the title - is almost another character in its own right. One of the things I loved was that Jeth continued to look after his uncle, even though he had disappointed him many times, and was really the architect of most of Jeth's troubles. Lizzie, Celeste, Shady, Flynn, then Sierra, Vince and Cora all have separate yet integral importance to the story as a whole and I enjoyed their individuality, yet cohesiveness as part of a team.
There are several twists that develop throughout the story, some took me by surprise, some didn't, but none felt too contrived, and as for the 'bad' guys - well a nastier set of villains would be hard to find. I really don't ever want to meet Hammer! Many reviews have made reference or comparison to Firefly, which I happen to agree with. I know Annette over at Annette's Book Spot didn't really care for 'Avalon', and felt that the comparisons were unwarranted, but I recognised the dynamics. Perhaps the actions of the characters do not reflect Firefly, but I could definitely see some similarities otherwise. Annette and I usually pretty much agree on books, so it was interesting to me that we felt completely opposite in this case. Check out her review to get a totally different perspective on 'Avalon'.
All in all, I thoroughly enjoyed Avalon and I'm looking forward to seeing the further adventures of the ship and its crew. It's light SF and would be a fairly quick read for those of you interested in trying something in this genre.