Young Adult/Science Fiction
Balzer + Bray
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.
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.
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.