Review: Avalon by Mindee Arnett

February 15, 2014 3.5 stars, Book Review 21 ★★★½


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.

Rarely a dull moment, Avalon bursts on the scene with a motley crew of teenagers that are actually a seasoned team of thieves working for a notorious crime lord. Now take that and put it into a sci-fi setting with spaceships, ports, high tech, and the the equivalent of a bermuda triangle out there in the black beyond and you’ve got yourself one heck of a thrilling young adult adventure.

Jeth and his team acquire goods (yeah that’s right I’m sugarcoating it) for the crime lord Hammer. He is so not a nice guy and runs everything on the space station where he lives and has his own little army of lackeys that obey him. But Jeth doesn’t want to be one for the rest of his life, so he’s been slowly working jobs for him in the hopes that he can buy back his parent’s ship, the Avalon.

One particular job might give him that perfect opportunity but it would require him and his team going on a super dangerous (and illegal of course) mission to bring back a lost ship. Mass problems ensue. What is great about Avalon is that things just keep moving. There may be a few natural lulls but they don’t feel stagnant as there is always a purpose to what the youths are doing. Not to mention this book really doesn’t mince words when it comes to description. There are some creepy and twisted things that go down and I don’t feel like the author was trying to shelter us as the readers from the reality of things that could happen.

I hate to admit that while reading I did find a few plot points overly convenient but ultimately I think that they worked….and really it’s all about perspective. What are the chances of this? What are the chances of that…and just how many people travel that you run into a certain so and so. That sort of thing. However, as I said I think it ends up working because really most stories that you read do have those convenient or highly coincidental key points to them that end up making the story what it is. Now I’m rambling but my main thing here is that it both worked for me and didn’t and when it didn’t that didn’t stop me from seriously enjoying the book.

One of my favorite parts were the characters and how each had a unique characteristic about them that made them stand out in my mind. I could really visualize them and almost even hear them. Too often I think supporting characters aren’t given enough depth or klout but the author did right by them here.

As you might have already read, Avalon has been compared to the TV show Firely by the description as well as other reviewers. Even though I am a big Firefly fan, I didn’t take this comparison into account at all. For me, unless a book is purposefully using a storyline or theme from another story/show and the goal therein is to retell that same story or essence of it, I try not to pay attention to comparisons because that just sort of ruins things for me. So whether you’re a fan or not of Firefly – give this one a chance to make its own mark on your mind instead of going in thinking you’re going to get Firefly.

Highly enjoyable, I’d definitely recommend Avalon to any fans of young adult science fiction. You can bet your sweet tookus I’ll be back for more.

Avalon (Avalon #1)

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Tabitha (Pabkins)

When I'm in the zone I can flip book pages faster than the eye can see - screaming "More Input!" I'm a book, yarn, & art supply hoarding goblin who loves to draw, make toys and craft all sorts of creepy cute things. My current habit is to listen to audio books while I'm arting it up!
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21 Responses to “Review: Avalon by Mindee Arnett”

  1. melliane

    It’s the first good review I see about this book… I really enjoyed Nightmare affair but well I don’t like Sci-fi books so I didn’t ask for this one. But I’m glad you liked it!
    melliane recently posted…Stacking the Shelves #81My Profile

    • Tabitha the Pabkins

      I’ve seen other good reviews before this, but yeah it seems its mostly been middle of the road for a lot of people. If you don’t like sci-fi then this definitely wouldn’t be for you.

    • Tabitha the Pabkins

      The reasoning for the crew of teens is explained. Plus there are a few adults in the story, several of the teens are 17 and up. I’d be interested to see what you make of it.

  2. Tammy

    Man, you’ve become a reviewing machine lately, Tabitha! I wish I could find the time to read like you do. Don’t you have a life???? I passed on this book because mostly I thought The Nightmare Affair was just ok. Plus no one better mess with Firefly damnit!! Rarely do publishers get the comparison thing right. Really, who’s writing those publisher blurbs anyway? They ought to let bloggers do them, we’re often better at nailing comparisons;-)
    Tammy recently posted…Stacking the Shelves (49)My Profile

    • Pabkins

      It’s the read a thon I’m determined to read a book a day. Plus I’m not working right now. Evil laughter.

      I don’t think the comparison was wrong, I can see why they said that, because you have a crew of somewhat misfits, they pick up fugitives, each member of the crew has their distinct role. There is thieving and smuggling and yet they’d like to think of themselves as good guys. The leader has a lot of loyalty to his ship and crew. So yeah the comparison is a good one, I just hate thinking about comparisons before going into reading something lately.
      Pabkins recently posted…Review: Avalon by Mindee ArnettMy Profile

  3. Mogsy

    Dang, I was hoping to check this one out. It looks really interesting, but I’m a little overloaded with YA in my wishlist these days and I might have gone for it if it had gotten a higher rating. Wasn’t gonna take the leap unless it got at least a 4 from you!
    Mogsy recently posted…YA Weekend: The Eye of Minds by James DashnerMy Profile

    • Pabkins

      It’s intern a 3.5 and a 4. Like last night I rated it a 4 and then second thought it this morning cause I mean it was good but there were some things that I just thought needed improvement. I think it’s worth reading if it sounds good to you.
      Pabkins recently posted…Review: Avalon by Mindee ArnettMy Profile

    • Tabitha the Pabkins

      I can totally see where you are coming from on that. Personally I think soo many books slow down in the middle – I think the trick is the author making you not notice it.

      Ok maybe they all don’t slow down in the middle ahha.

    • Pabkins

      Seems we picked out different things. I didn’t mind Jeth. I have to admit I didn’t love any of the characters in any extreme way, I thought they were all good but not great. I think things like “loves animals, likes guns, eats a lot” descriptions were relied on a bit to differentiate them but it did help me set them apart more. Which didn’t even occur to me to write until now, but at least that was there because done books lately in YA haven’t even been giving at least some defining characteristics. I enjoyed it but there were some things that didn’t sit perfectly with me and stopped it from being better.

      Hey we might not have agreed perfectly but it looks like it’s ratings are pretty close. Did you rate it a 3?
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      • Anya

        Oh haha, I guess I misinterpreted your review a bit since I thought you rated higher than three, this is what happens when reading blogs in my phone 😉 so we’re in agreement 😉

    • Tabitha the Pabkins

      It was a good reference. I sometimes think though that comparisons don’t always do things such a service that the marketing folks think it does. Personally I just like enjoying it without the comparison. Do you ever think sometimes that might effect how you feel about it?

        • Tabitha the Pabkins

          Haha – hence why I was pretty adamant about not thinking about that when you go in reading it. But I know exactly what you mean – I end up doing that sometimes too! Usually though its when they compare one book to another really popular book that I DIDN’T like. For instance if I wanted to read something already then saw it compared everywhere to a popular book I thought was crap then I stear clear even if I had wanted to read it previously hehe. We are so naughty.

    • Tabitha the Pabkins

      A sci-fi entry point huh. Ok then read EARTH GIRL by Janet Edwards (i recommend the e-version the print version has small small font) I loved it for YA Scifi. If you want to try adult scifi – LOVE MINUS EIGHTY by Will McIntosh is one of my FAVORITE books.