Lately, I’ve really been in the mood for science fiction, ever since reading the truly wonderful Fortune’s Pawn. In the wake of that awesomeness was a good time to pick up Avalon. Though lacking in the emotional component for me, I enjoyed almost every other aspect of the novel. Mindee Arnett’s Avalon is an action-packed, betrayal-filled science fiction novel.
The first thing you’ll have to do with Avalon is get over the fact that some of the most talented people in space are teenagers. They’re everywhere, doing all the dangerous stuff. Crime lords want them and so does the government. Honestly, I was laughing about this, particularly when the group of teens finds the ship they were sent for and find MORE teens. Because of course. But, hey, this is YA, and it’s to be expected. Accept this and move on with the action.
Jeth, which sounds like a cool future, spacey name until you learn it’s short for Jethro, works for Hammer, a mob boss who rules an entire planet in an iron fist. This Hammer is one creepy dude. He’s got this implant thing that is basically the one ring to rule over all of his security people with lesser implants. If you get on his bad side, you become untouchable until you starve to death. Because his uncle gambled away the family ship, Jeth’s stuck working for Hammer until he can earn enough money to buy the Avalon back.
Jeth earns money by performing missions for Hammer. He has a team of teens working with him, including his younger sister Lizzie, who’s a tech whiz, and who I picture as Edward from Cowboy Bebop. Laughable as the idea of these teens being an infamous group of thieves is to me, Arnett does explain that they’re so effective because they look so harmless. As the book opens, the gang’s preparing to steal a ship. Celeste and Jeth pretend to be a teen couple canoodling and then take out some unsuspecting guards.
As I said, the plot’s very action- and technology-heavy. Either that’s your thing or it’s not. Arnett’s got a really neat concept underlying some of the space travel technology, and I’m really curious to see where it’s going. The phasing stuff is so cool and so creepy, but you’ll have to read the book yourself to know what I’m talking about. Oh, also, there’s a thing at the end that’s an awesome homage to Star Wars, which is win.
What Left Me Wanting More:
As an alert for friends who I know are very bothered by this, there is one use of the word “retarded.” Lizzie uses it to insult someone who made an unwise suggestion. I find this word choice especially puzzling, given that I think this word isn’t used as slang that commonly anymore, so am I really meant to believe that far enough in the future the characters hardly know what America is this slang is still being used? This is the ARC, though, so maybe that word will be edited out, since it really adds nothing to the story.
The Final Verdict:
Avalon hit me at the right time, when I was totally in the mood for some action-packed science fiction. The Firefly comparison does have some merit, though it’s more like if the CW had made Firefly. Anyway, it was a fun read with a male MC and only a little bit of romance, which quite distinguishes it from the bulk of YA offerings.