ARC Review: Avalon (Avalon #1) by Mindee Arnett

17149396 Rating: 3 / 5
Genres: Young Adult, Science Fiction, Action, Romance
Release Date: January 21, 2014
Publisher: Balzer & Bray
Number of pages: 432
Source: ARC from Edelweiss
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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.

REVIEW

When I first read The Nightmare Affair, I instantly became a fan of the author. I enjoyed the storyline, the writing, the humor and the pace in that particular paranormal book, and that’s rare coming from me because I rank PNR very low in my preferred genres. Finding out Ms Arnett was going to write a Science Fiction complete with spaceships and interstellar travel psyched me up big time, especially since I favor that the most. If Mindee Arnett was able to hook me line and sinker with a PNR read, how much more would she be able to reel me in with a Sci-Fi?!

But, unfortunately, it left me somewhat disappointed. I’m not even sure if it deserves the three stars from me given how I wasn’t emotionally invested enough. Not that I found anything wrong with the plot… in fact, it was a bit refreshing to see two influential and equally bad institutions fighting for power with the main characters unfortunately placed in the middle of all the chaos, but for a few reasons which I will shortly disclose, the magic just did not work on me. *SAD FACE*

Okay, my first complaint: the world-building just wasn’t polished enough and wasn’t able to give me a clear picture of what the universe in Avalon looks like. My imagination can get pretty wild, but it can’t function if you’re not going to give it any description to feed on. For example, I appreciated that we were given a background of how ships in this book travel great distances, which was made possible due to a technology called Metatech (Thanks to EvE Online, an MMORPG I used to play, and Star Ocean, I have an idea how this could look like, so there’s that). However, most of the time, I was never given any illustration of the ships’ appearances. I guess this depends on the person (we all have our own preferences, after all), but as someone really into space and sci-fi, this is an aspect I look forward to the most. I don’t care how many technical terms you put there, just give me something to imagine! You could even get inspiration from the Eve Online ship models (which are pretty awesome, btw). But like I said, there was almost no description, and if there were some, they were minimal and not engaging enough for me to create a picture in my head.

I also did not like Jeth, the main character. While I recognize his impressive love and care towards his sister, he came off as absolutely obnoxious, gullible, and selfish. He was given a truly dangerous mission, something that would threaten the lives of his crew, but instead of telling the truth to his mates, he opted to keep it from them instead to ensure he gets Avalon, his parents’ ship, in the end. I’m sorry, try as I might, I just can’t shake this off, and ever since that scene I’ve been wary of him. It doesn’t help that the writing just wasn’t as good as Arnett’s The Nightmare Affair. I felt very detached and I just couldn’t connect to him at all. There were also times when I felt the narration was a bit shallow. There are a lot of characters in this book who are more interesting than Jeth, but during my reading experience, I didn’t think they were given the attention they deserved. It was all about Jeth and his obsession obtaining the Avalon from his boss. What’s a reader to feel when her least favorite character is ALSO the focus of the narration?

There were also some things that I felt were placed there for convenience but never explained later on. See, there was this one scene where the main character was separated from the rest of the group. Then out of nowhere, his friends came running to his rescue, thanks to the love interest, of course! Unsure how she was able to make it happen, he asked her, and she replied (non-verbatim), “Oh, we created a special communication system with CharacterA when we were kids, so there!”

… ok?

The thing here is, ladies and gentlemen, I wouldn’t have had any qualms with that if the kind of special communication system and the way she was able to do this when the place was heavily guarded were explained. I just can’t easily accept a rescue mission that conveniently popped out of nowhere if there were no descriptive account of how that came to be. I mean, come on, I read books to escape the real world, but my brain needs to make sense of it, too.

I also didn’t appreciate the romance. It felt weird and rushed. There were not many scenes with them together that really justified their “love”. Also, not to mention, I really had a hard time believing Jeth’s sincerity when in the first few days of their meeting, all he ever thought about was making out with her. They go try to find something important (read: IMPORTANT), and his mind was occupied with thoughts of kissing her madly. In the middle of a life and death situation in a torture room, he thought of how beautiful she was… sigh. I don’t know, I’m a romantic, but in these situations, my bullshit radar is alert as fuck, and logic trumps the hopeless lover in me. #Sorrynotsorry

All in all, it was an okay read. I definitely felt Arnett’s PNR series was better, but I’ll definitely check out the next book to see if it will successfully reel me in. For now, though, a low three stars.

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Faye

Faye

A 21 years old Filipina who loves books, games, languages, and most especially, food. Secretly wishes to be an astronaut so she can explore the stars. Has a love-hate relationship with Philippine politics. To get in her good graces, offer her Foie Gras, Or shrimp. Or a JRPG. A YA sci-fi book works, too. You can follow her on twitter here: @kawaiileena

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  1. says

    Hmmm lots of books are coming out these days that fall down on the world building. Too bad Avalon has that too because I’ve heard good things about it. But you are so right about needing a book that makes sense instead of one that doesn’t! I mean we all have brains too. Great review Faye, thanks for your honesty!

  2. says

    I feel like you just described my experience with the NIghtmare Affair. :P But I was really excited for this one, seems like i’m gonna have to forego. EH!

    • FayeFaye says

      What?! you didn’t appreciate the Nightmare Affair? Blasphemy :P But if you didn’t appreciate that you definitely won’t appreciate this :( Sorry Stuti!!

  3. says

    I find lately I have such a hard time with sci fi books. It’s like either there are way too many and I’m sick of it or it’s just not my genre dunno. I wasn’t a huge fan of The Nightmare Affair but I did like it. I think I gave it a 3. I do find one of the most important factors in a sco fi is world building so too bad it wasn’t that great. I’m also not sure about Jeth already :S Do I like that it’s a male MC! Anyways, great review, Faye! I wasn’t sure if this one was for me and I doubt I’d enjoy it any more than you did, if that.

    • FayeFaye says

      Yeah, not many good sci-fi works around (with the exception of These Broken Stars… god that was so good!!!). I’ll let you know if I come across any interesting ones /wink wink