Thursday, January 23, 2014

Review: Avalon

AVALON
Avalon #1
Mindee Arnett
Young Adult/Science Fiction
432 pages
Balzer + Bray
Available Now
Source: ARC from publisher for review

THE STORY (from Goodreads)
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.


MY THOUGHTS
Avalon is a thrilling deep space adventure, drawing us in on page one and never releasing its hold on us until we unfortunately find ourselves at the final chapter. What can sometimes be trying with first books in a new series is all the setup with very little resolution, the overall series plot arc combining with any number of smaller threads to ensure we reach the end with no shortage of questions, but Ms. Arnett thankfully gives us a full, rich story in Avalon. One very large aspect of this tale is left open to make sure the series has legs to propel it forward, but so many of the little pieces are beautifully and deftly slotted into place both plot-wise and character-wise, leaving us blissfully satisfied with this first installment.

Jeth is nothing short of a joy, delighting us simply by being male when we crack the spine given young male protagonists are still something of a rarity, but our interest in him and affection for him quickly moves far beyond gender as his love for his younger sister and the rest of his team of thieves becomes glaringly apparent. There's absolutely nothing he wouldn't do for any one of them, and as he and his crew travel deeper into uncharted territory we begin to get tiny, fleeting inklings of how that protective streak might cause a world of problems for him down the line, the hairs on the back of our necks standing on end in nervous anticipation. He's not the type to martyr himself though, throwing himself on his proverbial sword at every available opportunity, instead he's a fighter, intent on reaching his goals with his friends and family by his side but yet painfully aware of what the price of achieving those goals could be.

In addition to Jeth, we're treated to a stellar group of secondary characters, his whole team of widely varying personalities causing a smile to flit across our faces and a sense of determination to settle in our guts as we have no other choice but to root for this group as they take on the worst several galaxies' worth of humanity has to offer. The villains of Avalon are every bit as intriguing as Jeth and his crew, albeit in a very different way, with ringleader and crime lord Hammer Dafoe inspiring in us more hate than we might have thought ourselves capable of feeling. His cruelty isn't always on page for us to see, instead Ms. Arnett chooses to build our fear and anger quietly–much the way Hammer himself instills fear in those around him–whispers of his deeds reaching our ears and slithering their way inside before running through our blood like poison until we want nothing more than to see him get his comeuppance.

As mentioned previously, this story concludes with one important aspect of Jeth's world unresolved, but the rest of this first installment is wrapped up nicely, leaving us free of the frustrating desperation cliffhangers often cause. The setting and the space technology, while futuristic and fantastical in nature, are easy enough to picture and follow even if we might not fully understand the ins and outs of all the science, combining with a well-rounded cast of characters full of stunning strengths and flaws to create an impressive beginning to this new series.

Rating: 4/5


Find Mindee:


This book was sent to me by the publisher free of charge for the purpose of a review
I received no other compensation and the above is my honest opinion.

45 comments:

  1. I am so incredibly tired of martyrs, it will be nice to have a character who is both male and rady to face the world, not die stupidly at first opportunity. I chose not to download this when it was available, and now i'm regretting my decision. But I'll go ahead and buy a physical copy because I know for sure I'll like it.
    As usual, you make a very concincing case, Jenny. :)

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    1. I am too Maja! I loved that Jeth didn't go all self-sacrificing, he wanted to live and he wanted to stay with his sister and his team and was willing to do whatever it took to make that happen.

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  2. this sounds a character driven story. I don't read much YA sci-fi but I kinda want to meet this Jeth since you mentioned his love for his younger sister. So will definitely check this one.

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    1. Sci-fi isn't normally my thing either, but like Fantasy, it's a genre that's really growing on me and I just loved this one:)

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  3. I'm so glad you enjoyed this one, Jenny! I have an ARC of it but with so many mixed and disappointed reviews, I didn't wind up reading more than a handful of pages. I think I'll wait to see how this series plays out and, if it continues to improve, I'll definitely be picking this back up. Lovely review, dear!

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    1. I'm really excited for book 2 Keertana, I have high hopes that it will be as equally good as this one was for me:)

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  4. I loved how protective of his little sister he was (even the times when she seemed to be more mature than him!). And yay for no cliffies, though there's enough drama and anticipation that I'm craving the next book!

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    1. Me too, she was a fabulous character and he was such a good big brother. I'm very ready to see how things play out in book two!

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  5. I'm glad to hear this worked for you, Jenny. I had a lot of trouble getting into the book for some reason. There wasn't anything that I particularly disliked, but for the most part I felt disconnected from the story and the characters. Jeth was someone I never enjoyed and the world-building was iffy for me, so this ended up being a DNF for me.
    I'm glad that you enjoyed it though!
    Great review. :)

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    1. Sorry it didn't work so well for you Nick!

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  6. "Jeth is nothing short of a joy, delighting us simply by being male"

    If it's anything like hanging out with my boyfriend and his brothers, it sounds fun and hilarious. You've made me want this now, Jenny.

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    1. *snort* Apparently I'm pretty easy to please. Any male will do ;-)

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  7. Oh, I'm so glad you loved this one, too, Jenny! I know there have been mixed reviews, but I thought the story and the world were so solid...and Jeth...what else can I say?! Great review! :)

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    1. I really enjoyed this one Melissa! It all just worked for me:)

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  8. I tend to shy away from high fantasy or sci fi books but I have seen some pretty good reviews for this one and your review really does make me want to give this one a try. :)

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    1. As do I Ali, but both are slowly growing on me. I quite enjoyed this story and all the characters. I hope you get a chance to try it!

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  9. I got excited for a moment because I thought this might be about Celtic Mythology. Ah well, it still sounds really good. Kind of like a take on Firefly.

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    1. Hehe, unfortunately no. I adore Celtic mythology, but I was really pleased with this sci-fi adventure:)

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  10. I'm honestly not sure of this one, Jenny. I've read some very mixed reviews but the idea of an Oceans 11 in sci fi is quite intriguing. I think I'll wait to see what book 2 is like before starting this series.

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    1. I was firmly in the "loved it" camp Rummanah, so I'll definitely let you know how book 2 is next year when it comes out!

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  11. Since I have been on a sci-fi kick I read it and liked it! I think the whole space expedition itself brings much to the story. Awesome review!

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    1. Yay! Glad to know you enjoyed it as well Savy:)

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  12. Oh my this does sound like a great beginning to a new series. Going on my maybe list!

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    1. I was riveted the whole way through on this one Felicia:)

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  13. Nice to hear this doesn't leave off on cliffhanger even though it's part of a series. Jeth sounds like a wonderful hero, and this seems like an exciting story. Wonderful review, Jenny! :)

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    1. JETH! I think you'll enjoy him Rachel. He's a fabulous way to pass the time until Ryodan is in our hands once again.

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  14. Outer space is like the new thing, isn't it? I've heard a few mixed things about this one but for the most part people seem to be enjoying it. I'll have to try to fit it in in the future!

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    1. It does seem to be the new trend, and I'm a fan. I really enjoyed These Broken Stars as well, so I'm all aboard the space train!

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  15. Oh Jenny this sounds soo good! I love the idea of outer space and not to mention Celtic Mythology. That's totally new to me. I'm so glad you enjoyed this one. Great review, Jenny :)

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    1. Hope you give this one a try Tanja! Though aside from the ship's name being Avalon, there's no Celtic mythology. At least as far as I could tell, I'm no expert in that area however.

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  16. I have enjoyed my outer space reads so far and I am hearing good things about this one. I like that it has a male protagonist who is likable and that almost all of the questions are answered. I have already added this to my wish list!

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    1. I was a big fan of Jeth and his whole team Heidi! It was a great cast of characters:)

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  17. This is the second great review of this book. I don't even know why I didn't pick it up. I've been in the mood for something a bit sci-fi and this sounds like it really fits the bill. I love the way the author builds our emotions toward the bad guy. Oh so going to have to get this one.

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    1. I loved hating Hammer Melissa, it was so much fun. He's a miserable person and I was counting the pages until he got what he deserved. I'm a little vengeful it would seem:)

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  18. Sci.fi..ok yes I could read that, as long as it is not too much technology

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    1. There's some technology with the metatech and everything, but I was able to gloss over some of it and just settle into the characters. Loved them:)

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  19. Another book I can't wait to pick up! You had me at "thrilling deep space adventure" haha. After These Broken Stars and Beth Revis' Across the Universe series I'm so eager to find new stellar space books to fall in love with. Love Jeth already <3

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  20. I got an email today telling me that my copy of this had finally dispatched, so I'm hoping to read it soon! I had some mixed thoughts about Mindee's debut novel, but I'm hoping this one will work better for me. I love the premise and I really like the sound of the characterisation here. Lovely review, Jenny! I'm glad you enjoyed this one. :)

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  21. I'm so, so happy to hear you enjoyed this one! After reading some negative reviews I had almost given up on it, but you and Mary have me convinced I have to give it a shot. Jeth sounds like a wonderful character, and I can't wait to meet him! Fabulous review Jenny!

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  22. I have loved the premise of this from the onset but early reviews had me leary..I am so glad this worked for you as we so often agree. I am really loving this space trend..eep

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  23. I don't know why this cover gives me the willies, but it does. Weird, right? I really love a good male character. And the fact that this book wraps up without a cliffhanger is a plus. I might have to get past my irrational ... uncomfortableness from the cover and read it! :D

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  24. My copy came today and I can't wait to get started! Now I know what to read!!

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  25. Reading this one soon, so glad to hear you enjoyed it! Jeth sounds wonderful. I am okay with open end books at the beginning as it does allow for the growth! The plot totally drew me to this one.

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  26. I usually stay away from sci-fi because it just never works for me, but Jeth sounds very focused and driven, and I love that! Bonus that the story is almost complete with no cliffhanger. I'm still a little unsure, but I'll keep it in my. Awesome review, Jenny! :)

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  27. Yay, for no cliffhangers and a great MC! I thought The Nightmare was okay and don't really like sci-fi so I was planning to stay away from this one. I've seen several good reviews for it though that have convinced me to change my mind, Jenny.

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