I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.Avalon by Mindee Arnett
Series: Avalon #1
Published by Balzer + Bray on January 21st 2014
Genres: Sci-Fi, Young Adult
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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.
Oh Avalon, Avalon, where did you go wrong? I was so excited for this book, it sounded like (and in many ways is) a mashup of some of my favorite things (Star Wars, Firefly, Mass Effect) laid out in literary form. I should have loved it. Alas, I didn’t.
I wish I weren’t giving this book 2 stars and in someone else’s hands it could easily be a 4 star read. Unfortunately for Avalon, this is my review and I did not engage in the slightest. Let me put it this way, I put down this book to clean my kitchen. I HATE cleaning my kitchen.
To understand my problems, you should know that I am an incredibly character driven reader. I get into a story by latching on to a character (preferably the MC, but not always) and living the story through them. It gives me a reason to feel things, to get excited, to give any kind of a shit about how it all turns out. Avalon lacked such a character for me and as such, the story was missing it’s heart.
(Me, the whole time)
It’s not that Jeth or any of the crew were bad characters, they just weren’t developed in a way that let me feel like I ever really knew them. Jeth felt more like a porthole than a person, I would see the story through him, but felt distant and removed. It didn’t help that I never had a complete grasp on who he was. You know there’s a problem with character development when in the final chapters, the MC is still doing things that seem inconsistent or surprising given what you thought you knew about him. (Seriously, is he a scoundrel? A softie? A badass? A kid? All of the above? I still don’t know, it’s like he put on whichever hat was best for the scene and none of them stuck or felt right.)
The romance was blah as all hell. It seems like it was tacked on because if you write a YA book without some kind of love interest, the world will end. It was fairly predictable (if a boy meets a girl and immediately appreciates her ‘feistiness’ and the way her ponytail swishes, you can pretty much guarantee they are going to end up making out) and did nothing for me.
I will give Mindee Arnett credit for putting together some fantastic scifi. Her world building, while not necessarily the most overwhelming in terms of scope, is solid and interesting and leaves a lot of room for further exploration as the series goes on. I really like her space travel tech concepts, it got my nerd up and marked the first part of the book where I felt genuinely interested, so bonus points for that.
Plotwise, Avalon starts off a little slow. Without the aforementioned character development, it’s just a bunch of kids (seriously, what crime lord hires a pack of teenagers? I know Arnett explains it but really?) floating around in space for pretty much the entire first half of the book. The action (finally) picked up right around the halfway point giving way to a crapload of betrayal.
(Did I theme my entire review around this gif? Maaaaaaybe.)
Tons and tons of betrayal. Betrayal to the point where I started laughing out loud when something backfired because, duh, you guys haven’t picked up on that being how it goes? (Despite my not feeling like any of these people were real, I still talk to them. Don’t read too much into it, I was yelling at my doorknob the other day.)
This book honestly made me question whether or not I was some kind for robot. There was some seriously nerve wracking stuff going down: torture, the aforementioned betrayal, life changing truth bombs, and I felt not a single feel. I found myself wondering ‘What is wrong with me? How am I not moved by this human suffering?’ I mean, it’s not like I enjoyed those parts, but I was uncomfortable in an ‘oh, I find this generally distasteful’ kind of way as opposed to a ‘oh, the pain, the agony’ kind of way.
Avalon really could’ve been a good book and probably will be to someone else, but the stakes are dependent on the reader caring about the characters and if the reader doesn’t care, it’s mildly engaging but mostly just long.
Final verdict, if you aren’t as hung up on characters as I am and enjoy scifi, check it out, you may really like it. However, if you’re like me, well, eh.
I haven’t read Avalon but I’m a little wary going in. I like Arnett’s other series, The Nightmare Affair, but it’s fantasy and has a completely different feel. Your review basically confirmed everything I was dreading. And the whole betrayal plot line seems so overdone. Thanks for the honest and awesome review! 🙂
(fantastic gif use btw)
If you liked The Nightmare Affair, this may work for you. I didn’t connect with that one either, so it may be that Mindee Arnett isn’t for me. Do you like scifi? If so, I’d say maybe it’s still worth a shot. There was an awful lot of betrayal though. Like, for real guys, why are you still trusting people? That doesn’t seem to work out for you. Maybe you should stop.
This is a great review but the gif usage really ramps up the excellence.
A good space read would be a nice change up for me but characters are essential for me so maybe it’s not Avalon. Great characters can make a boring book fantastic. Bad characters can make an otherwise excellent book, heartless, which seems to be the case here!
Thank you! I always like to cushion a meh review with gifs…and amp up a good review with gifs…and drive home a bad review with gifs…basically, I like gifs.
I am with you, I wanted this to be the scifi of my dreams but then not so much. All of the pieces were there, they just didn’t come together for me.
I love all the Alan Tudyk gifs!
Now, I’m not so sure I want to read this. I’m pretty character driven as well and it doesn’t sound like I’m going to really like or connect with any in this. ;-;
Alan Tudyk is one of my all time favorite actors.
Yeah, if characters are your thing, this may not be for you. Have you read Arnett’s other book The Nightmare Affair? That would be a good litmus test. I had similarly feelings about it, but if you liked that one this might work for you.
Uh oh. I only skimmed your review because I’m hoping to get to this one soon, but I am disappointed because Kate really liked this one! Who do I believe? I will say that I was a bit skeptical because I wasn’t a huge fan of her first book Nightmare Affair, though–it was FINE, but within days of reading it I’d already forgotten most of the story and characters. Hmmm. I’ll come back and read your review down the road.
Oooooh! Showdown! Just kidding. I am curious to see what you think, though. It definitely depends on what kind of a reader you are. I had a similar problem with The Nightmare Affair and I’m starting to think Mindee Arnett isn’t for me (which is a shame because I really like her premises).
It is hard for me, Meggnogg, because usually I default to “I’ll trust the person who likes Mira Grant,” but in this case you both LOVE Mira. So…dilemma. I do like the sound of Firefly-ish world, though. (Let us not speak of all the deaths in SERENITY. No wonder they didn’t greeenlight a sequel, Whedon.)
Love the gifs! They brought something really special to the post. 😀
And this book looked really good, too. I thought I would enjoy that ‘Firefly’ feel I got from the summary. Oh, well.
Why thank you! In my eyes, Wash always brings something special to the table 🙂
As far as this book and Firefly, it depends why you liked Firefly. As much I adored the setting and world, for me the heart of the show was the ensemble cast and Avalon didn’t quite capture that. However the space and scifi bits do feel very Firefly and I can only imagine they will feel more so in the upcoming books.
Wash is pretty awesome. I wish I had one in my own life. 😉
And the cast really did make the show. Because lets be honest, on paper, ‘Space Western’ just does not sound like a good idea. But because of the characters we got sucked into the show and everything else just seemed to make sense! Now I hear Space Western and it’s like, ‘of course’!
Anyway, maybe the next book in the series will be better. If the future books do better in the character department, I may give it a try.
Christina (My Life In Books)
This was such a great review and touched on almost all my own issues while reading Avalon. Hopefully I can get my own review of it up soon!
“it’s like he put on whichever hat was best for the scene ” Yes, this, agreed. He was like a Ditto, I could just poke him and he would transform into anything. I was pulled in by the creepy mystery of that Bermuda Triangle in space zone and was kind of hoping for a These Broken Stars creepy plot, but once they moved on from there I just didn’t care anymore. The Firefly comparisons in the description were really just shooting the book in the foot since Firefly had such an amazing cast of characters, and Avalon in no way lived up to that for me 🙁
Mary @ BookSwarm
While I can understand not connecting with the characters, I truly enjoyed this story! I loved the feel and the space concepts and travel. Yeah, it’s a lot crazy that a crime lord used a pack of teens to do his dirty work and there was an awful lot of betrayal (I actually had that line from the gif going through my head when the first biggie happened!) but I really enjoyed the story as a whole.
Thanks for the review! I was looking… not necessarily forward to… but into this book. It is always helpful to get someone’s opinions before actually purchasing. I hope to get it for a tour, and if I do, I will definitely read it. Otherwise, this may get put on the Amazon Wish List back burner.
Shae/Shelver @ Shae Has Left The Room
YES. ALL THIS. I cared so little that I ended up getting ANGRY with how little I cared. And oh my gosh, that “romance.” Gag.
Christina (A Reader of Fictions)
OH MY GOD, YOU FILLED THIS REVIEW WITH ALAN TUDYK. MY FAAAAAVORITE. MY FEELS.
Also, looks like Shae was having the same feels as you during this book.
Okay, so I just read “feistiness” as “fetishness” and the world was a little scary for a moment. Like, SERIOUSLY, how did I miss that description because wow. Anyway, yeah, the ship was like super half-hearted. I didn’t give a shit, but it was pretty minimal so whatever. Also, lol at ponytail swishes.
The world building = yay. It’s the only reason that I liked this book. I think I was in the mood for some action-y goodness (on the heels of Fortune’s Pawn, which is much better and which you will love).
UM, YES, YOU DID AND YOU ARE AMAZING. BEST LINE IN ANY SHOW EVER.
I was also not moved by the suffering, but, honestly, if you’re not moved, I’m probably cackling evil at the characters’ pain.
Christina (A Reader of Fictions) recently posted…Review: Split Second
Oh, right. The infamous book that turned you into a domestic goddess.
So this is why my love life is such a disaster. I rarely wear my hair into a ponytail. Guess things are going to change now. Just watch me go all babesque, seducing guys with every step and turn, all thanks to my glorious, glorious, swishing ponytail. Sounds like a solid plan.
“It’s just a bunch of kids floating around in space.”
Sounds like they’re on drugs. Bad kids. That’s not how you science. You science with the brain on high alert. Stay away from drugs.
I hope you didn’t give your door knob an inferiority complex. It really doesn’t deserve that.
Blegh. This book didn’t really interest me in the first place, but if it doesn’t even give you – who I consider to be the Queen of Feels – feels, then I’m out. Don’t worry, I’m not just writing it off because you didn’t like it! It’s a TBS scenario. The book didn’t really catch my attention in the first place and listening to what trusted friends think of it has me convinced I probably won’t like it. Fab review, Meg!
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