Thursday, January 23, 2014

[Review: Avalon by Mindee Arnett

Author: Mindee Arnett
Series: Avalon #1
Pages: 432
Genre: YA, Sci Fi, Adventure
Date Published: January 21st, 2014
Publisher: Balzer & Bray
Format Read: eARC provided by publisher (via Edelweiss) for honest review


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.

My Thoughts:

Oh Avalon, how I wanted to love you with every fiber of my being.  I really did.  You're a mixture of things that I love, including Firefly and Danny Boyle's flick Sunshine and even some Star Wars.  You've got all the fixings to be something right up my alley.  In some ways you delivered brilliantly and in others you didn't hit the mark at all.  Sure, even though you weren't perfect, I still enjoyed you, but I wanted you to leave me more excited than I am in the long run.  I'm just left trying to find the "wow factor" I wanted going into you.  Then again I'll settle for what you did deliver on and call it a truce.  

And now that my open letter to the book is over... 

This is my first book by Mindee Arnett that I've read and after hearing so many awesome things about her other novels, I couldn't wait to dive into it.  A book set in space about teenage mercenaries?  Sign me up!  I found the characters interesting and the overall plot to be enjoyable and fast paced.  Arnett sure knows how to keep you on your toes when it comes to throwing curve balls into her plot and keeping things interesting.  But for as fast paced as the action was I found myself struggling through reading the book itself.  

It was odd.  I felt like I had read a ton of the book and I'd look and see that I hadn't gotten very far at all.  I'm not sure why this was, but it made the book feel like it was dragging for me.  Even if the plot was moving along, it felt like I was stuck in the pages and that I couldn't get out.  It was immensely distracting, and personally the flow of my reading experience got in the way of how much I enjoyed this book.  It's the weirdest thing to try to explain.  Exciting things were happening in the story, but they weren't happening in a way that made me excited. 

That being said, I did enjoy the characters that filled Arnett's story.  I like when I find a male protagonist believable and Jeth did that for me.  He had his flaws (in that he wasn't always as assessable as I would have liked) but he had this honesty about him that I found to be really refreshing.  Plus, his loyalty to his crew was something to applaud!  And then throw in how great his was with his little sister Lizzie and he'll also managed to melt your heart every once in awhile.  

Sierra was a great female lead as well.  As was Celeste.  I liked how Arnett wrote really feisty and strong females into her novel.  In a place full of male testosterone, these girls held their own.  Even the younger ones like Lizzie and Cora had their moments of extreme strength.  

The rest of the bit characters also had their moments.  The bad guys had moments that made your skin crawl and we all know that that's what you want in a good bad guy, so that worked out well too.

So, even though I was left wanting more.  Let's be honest, a whole lot more, the things that Arnett did right, she did really really right.  I've got to give her props for all of that, even though I can't start a slow clap for this space ship flying, galaxy traveling, romp of a tale because of the weird pacing.  I have to admit that I'm curious to see where the next book goes...

       3 Unicorns = I liked it, but it had it's issues!      


Kirsty-Marie Jones said...

I've read a few mixed reviews, but haven't actually read it myself yet (though, now I don't think I'll bother, but maybe eventually) and I don't know, I mean I like that the bad characters are truly bad, but pace really can make or break a book, and it sounds like this one dragged it down. I always hate when one you're really looking forward to, isn't what you expected it to be. But there's a sequel, right? So hopefully the next will be better for you. Great review! :)

Giselle said...

I didn't much like Mindee Arnett's previous novel so I've been hesitant about this one. So far the reviews have not convinced me to pick it up. It sounds like the dragging plot would bore me. I know what you mean too about feeling stuck on the pages. For me that happens when I don't connect or care much about the characters. It can be action packed but if you dont care what happens it's pointless you know. It does sound like you at least liked the characters though. Sci fi can be such a hit or miss for me. I'm not sure this one would make a win but it doesn't sound terrible either.

Nicole said...

I just picked this up at ALA for Ashley since she reads more Sci Fi than I do. We'll see what she thinks of the pacing. I totally get it though, sometimes books just fall flat, or even though exciting things happen your don't really feel them. It happens. But it's a good sign you want to read the next book. Hopefully the pacing issue won't be a problem next time around.

Little Miss Becky said...

Pacing is a tough one----I can't stand when you feel like you're reading and reading, and look down to realized it's only been 5 pages. Ugh. The characters so sounds great, though.
Still, I was already thinking this one might be a bit too sci-fi for me anyhow, so I think I'll skip it. :)

Marlene Detierro said...

I enjoyed it, but the pacing got to me... a lot. But I found the characters really great!

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