Monday, January 20, 2014

Avalon by Mindee Arnett

Avalon by Mindee Arnett
eARC received from Harper Teen
Release Date:  January 21, 2014
Reviewed by:  Middle Sis Jenn
The Sisters Say:  Great setting, but disappointing plot and characters
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 started out excited to read this one because the reviews had been great.  Plus, I loved MIndee's debut, The Nightmare Affair.  Unfortunately, I just didn’t see what everyone else saw in this book.  While I enjoyed the space setting and the macabre events that started the book, the characters and slow plot ruined it for me.

I’ll start out with what I enjoyed—the setting.  Mindee did an amazing job describing the creepy hollowness of space.  When they enter the dead zone (the part of space that seems creepily supernatural—she calls it something else, but I can’t remember what at this point), the eeriness really starts to go into overdrive.  I loved the murderous and mysterious scenes that we see in the lost spaceship, and the strange anomalies that keep occurring were fantastic.  If you are a big sci-fi fan, you might enjoy this book just because of the great details in the setting.

Still, even though I loved that part of it, I couldn’t get past the flat characters.  I tried and tried to relate to one of them, but I just couldn’t.  The dialogue seemed very young (middle grade, really), and the little romance that I did see (I stopped at 67%) was dull and really seemed to detract from the rest of the story.

I also couldn’t make it past the slow plot.  I’ve heard that it picks up in the second half, but after a month of trying to read some every day, I got to the point where I just didn’t think anything could bring me back into the story.

Overall, this wasn’t a book for me, although it might be one that big fans of sci-fi love.  I guess I shouldn't be surprised since the blurb says it's for fans of Firefly, which I hated.  If you plan to read it, I hope you are able to enjoy it more than I did.