Avalon by Mindee Arnett
Rating: 3/5 Stars
Genres: Dystopian, Sci-fi
Release Date: January 21st, 2014
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.
Honestly, Mindee Arnett’s previous book, The Nightmare Affair, was one that I was dying for, but ended up being disappointed by. But when I got wind of her new book, I knew I had to give her another try. While I can happily say that this was a better read than her debut, I can’t say that it totally knocked my socks off, like I hoped it would. Avalon presents in intriguing, enthralling sci-fi, although, some parts of it were flat-out not executed well.
I think my favorite aspect of this had to be some of the really action-y moments. I’ve always been an action fan, so call me biased if you like, but I thought it was well done here. I could feel the suspense right along with the characters, waiting for that small stick to break, and for everything to go KABOOM. And when it did, the action scenes were filled with even more tension, as I waited it out to see who would emerge victorious. That kind of atmosphere- one where you’re left holding your breath, waiting- is hard to create, but Arnett was able to create that tension multiple times throughout this book. I was fully submerged in those action scenes, breathing hard right along with the characters.
Another intriguing part of this book was the betrayals. In a sci-fi book like this, where a lot of things are based on trust, it’s not surprising to find a few of these. But, I was happy to see that I definitely did not see some of them coming. Relationships are quite tenuous throughout this book, so it was interesting to see how they built up, but then snapped in a second, too. They were complex, never simple, and I really enjoyed how those were crafted. You never quite knew who to trust, and I loved being kept on my toes in regards to each character.
However, that first half of the book. Just UGH. It was bad. Boring. Made me want to fall asleep. The book starts off with a bang. I was intrigued, and super excited by the prospect of this book. Then… nothing happened. I thought I was alone on my feelings, but after checking around, it seems as if I’m not. The latter portion of the book significantly improved as action scenes, tension, and just a general plot were more abound. It takes quite the while for this book to really get started, and even then, I found myself quite unimpressed with the plot twists. Arnett tries to whip out these twists that are ‘unique’, but a lot of them were pretty cliché, especially in a genre like this. Both the beginning and the plot twists were disappointing, to say the least.
Also, the writing felt so blah to me. It grated on me several times, especially when times when there was a lot of telling vs. showing (which, unfortunately, happened pretty often in the book). Writing isn’t something I’ll normally pick out in a book, because it doesn’t stick out. But when the telling was just really strong, I was pulled out of the flow of the story. It jarred me, and made me slightly irritated. Besides that, I can’t help but wish for something a little bit more with Arnett’s writing. Anything. Something more magical, more engaging perhaps. There’s something lacking that I just can’t pinpoint, but the writing bothered me while I was reading.
Overall, Avalon had its highlights with an awesome concept, heart-racing action scenes, and intriguing betrayals. However, the lackluster beginning and plot twists, combined with that blah writing style makes me hesitant about recommending this one. I’d recommend it only to fans of light sci-fi who are looking just for a good, engaging story for a couple of hours. Those looking for something deep, enriching, and gorgeous, aren’t going to be satisfied with Avalon, unfortunately. I can say, though, that Arnett has my interest piqued, and I’ll probably be reading the sequel.