From the publisher—
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.
Today’s teens must have a somewhat jaundiced view of science fiction since nearly all of the offerings in this genre in the last few years have been of the post-apocalyptic and/or dystopian subgenre. There’s nothing wrong with that—I’m a huge fan and hope it won’t dwindle away anytime soon—but it does mean that they’re not often exposed to the good oldfashioned outer space and aliens type. When I heard that Mindee Arnett (whose work i already admire) was coming out with a space opera, I was delighted.
To be honest, I don’t think this was as strong as it could have been. It struck me as a cobbling together of Artemis Fowl, Firefly/Serenity and even a little of Oliver Twist and the similarities distracted me a bit from the core story in Avalon. Please understand, I do NOT mean to imply any sort of wrongdoing on the author’s part, not at all. It’s just that I think it’s hard to come up with this kind of science fiction that will appeal to teens and, when someone does, comparisons to earlier tales such as those I mentioned are almost inevitable.
I would like to have seen more of the story take place on a planet or two to get these kids off the spaceships and I believe that would have helped round them out a bit. Still, I liked them although there were times Jeth bored me nearly to tears. Other than that, Jeth reminded me of a young Han Solo, more than willing to bend the law to get what he wants but we soon discover he might just have a streak of honor, not to mention a little concern for others besides his sister and crew.
My other concern is with pacing. I had to struggle to get through some parts that dragged including some of what I can only call educational lectures but, then, the second half of the book was filled with the boisterous action and adventure that makes for a good space opera. Ms. Arnett has a sequel planned and I’d be willing to bet these pacing issues will ease up; certainly, I’m more than willing to give it a try 😉
Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, January 2014.
About the Author
Mindee Arnett is the author of one other book for teens,
The Nightmare Affair. She lives on a horse farm in Ohio with her
husband, two kids, a couple of dogs, and an inappropriate number
of cats. Her dream home, though, is aboard a spaceship.
With pulse-pounding action, a captivating mystery, and even a
bit of romance, Avalon is the perfect read for hard-core
sci-fi fans and non–sci-fi fans alike.