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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.

418 pages, Hardcover

First published January 21, 2014

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About the author

Mindee Arnett

10 books1,401 followers
YA Author of Onyx Ivory, Avalon, and the Arkwell Academy series. Represented by the fabulous Suzie Townsend of New Leaf Literary. Addicted to jumping horses and telling tales of magic, the macabre, and outer space.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 642 reviews
January 22, 2014

This is Firefly fanfiction under different names.

Boy, they weren't kidding when the summary of the book said it is "a great match for fans of Joss Whedon's cult hit show Firefly." There are a tremendous amount of similarities, for one, the plot: a ragtag crew of mercenaries set out into space on a beloved spaceship, only to rescue some siblings on the run---one of whom has a secret. If you have watched the show, you will be able to make a very exact hypothesis regarding the secret. There will be no surprises, and it will render this book almost obsolete, because Firefly holds so much more complexity and so much more enjoyment than this book. The characters are almost exactly the same, only with different ages and names. The plot is action-packed but long-winded, and bored me more than once. Regardless, it is an entertaining book.

This book was not a pain to read, but it was obstructed in parts by the idiocy of the main character, Jeth. Obviously, I cannot help but draw parallels between Jeth and Firefly's captain, Mal. The one major distinction between Mal and Jethro is that Mal is rational, calm, and is not driven by hormones. Simply put: Mal does not think with his dick, which is something I cannot say about Jethro. And Mal is just fucking awesome, man.

There is a lot of action in the book, regardless, the book felt a lot more boring and slower than it should. That is mainly because a lot of the action in the book felt superfluous and repetitive. It is like watching an action movie, sometimes I just want something besides the explosions, you know?

The Characters: Almost every single character is a direct parallel to Firefly. Here is a list of the characters in the book and their Firefly counterpart.

Jethro = Mal.

The unflinching captain. Desperately loves the ship Avalon. Respectful of his crew. A gentleman. A loyal friend. A good heart. There are a few differences between them, mainly Mal is a man. Jethro is a boy. More specifically, Jeth is a teenaged boy whose hormones have not been conquered. Mal would be considerably more focused on the end goal, without being distracted by a pretty face and insta-love despite knowing better.
Don’t be stupid, the voice of reason broke in. You don’t need that kind of distraction.
No, he didn’t. Girl distractions were the worst kind. Downright dangerous.
And yet he gets distracted anyway. Mal would NEVER get beaten off-track by a beauty, so much that he would irretrievably compromise his mission. Jethro allows a pretty face to affect the way he thinks about his beloved Avalon, his thoughts are altogether too flowery.
She must think Avalon’s a dump. Jeth resisted an insane urge to start defending his ship to this stranger. It wasn’t like him to give a damn about what other people thought, but something about Sierra seemed to challenge this attitude. He decided it was the regal way she carried herself: not stuckup, exactly, but as if she were a princess who’d recently been forced into poverty.
Oh, Jeth, grow the fuck up. Mal would never feel...fuzzy...like a kitten.
To his surprise, her annoyed expression made him want to laugh. It reminded him a bit of Viggo when Jeth had accidentally stepped on the cat’s tail—pissed off but incredibly cute in a fearsome, fuzzy sort of way.
Celeste = Zoe

Beautiful. Cunning. Straightforward. She will kick your ass. I absolutely loved Celeste, and I honestly think she would have been the better love interest in this book.
"She got so mad when I caught her in the act, she punched me in the face. That’s Celeste.” You had to respect a girl who could hit like that.
Lizzie = Kaylee

The youngest of the crew. A brilliant technical whiz with a sky-high IQ, but so young, immature, and blunt. Despite her technical brilliance, she speaks roughly, unrefinedly.
Lizzie laughed. “Now you’re being retarded. That stuff don’t exist.”
“Doesn’t exist,” Jeth said.
Jeth clenched his jaw. Lizzie hadn’t seen the inside of a classroom since Hammer recruited her for the gang, and it bothered him when she spoke improperly. Someone so smart shouldn’t sound so ignorant.
She has a soft spot for young children, kittens. She is permanently clumsy.
There was a loud bang, followed by the sound of Lizzie groaning. She scooted out from underneath the station and scowled up at him, one hand rubbing her forehead. “Crap, Jeth. You made me jump and hit my head.”
Flynn = Wash

The brilliant engineer and mechanic. A bottomless pit with a rather unfortunate sense of humor.
“Crap oh crap oh crap,” said Flynn as he crawled out from underneath the nav station. “We are so screwed. I mean, screwed-screwed. Like, get-into-the-lifeboats-’cause-this-ship-is-going-down-screwed.”
Shady = Jayne

The brawn of the group. The thug. The juvie. The shoot-first-ask-questions-later guy.
Of all the crew, Shady was the only one who’d done time in a juvenile detention center.
"He’s good with firearms and explosives. That, and he’s brave enough to do anything, no matter how stupid.”
As for the rest of the characters, I could make comparisons, but I don't want to spoil you guys. Not that there's much spoiling, if you've watched Firefly.

The Summary: In the future, Jethro (Jeth) is the unofficial leader of a teenaged mercenary crew, thieves known as the Malleus Shades. They work for an intergalactic crime boss, and career politician (one and the same, some things never change ;) Hammer Dafoe. Jeth is an orphan, he only has an uncle and a younger sister. His parents were brilliant scientists who were mysteriously branded as treasons by the Intergalactic Travel Authority (ITA). The reasons for their execution remains unknown. Their case is sealed.

Jeth's only goal in life is to take care of his sister and his crew, and to win back his parents' ship, the Avalon

They are on a mission to steal a ship, it is business as usual until they run into a mysterious man, Marcus Renford, who offers them a job. He wants them to go into the wild unknowns of the Belgrave Quadrangle and steal a ship.

By the skin of their teeth, they escape Renford, only to return to their boss who coincidentally offers them the same job. Go into Belgrave Quadrangle and bring back the ship Donerail. They are not to board the ship. They are only to tow it back. It is a dangerous mission. In exchange, Hammer will return

The Belgrave Quadrangle is the intergalactic version of the Bermuda Square.
It was known across the galaxy as the Devil’s Boneyard. Lots of ships had disappeared inside of it, never to be seen again. Equipment tended to malfunction within its borders, particularly navigational systems. The ITA had declared it completely off limits; even flying through it was illegal. Some people said the place was haunted or cursed.
Jeth's crew is reluctant, but their individual salary is too high for them to resist. They travel into the Belgrave Quadrangle, they find the Donerail there, but something is wrong. The ship is a wreck.
A large hole marred the ship’s lower bow. It wasn’t the kind of hole you’d expect on a ship that’s been in a firefight or suffered a collision. It wasn’t a ragged, chaotic shape but perfectly symmetrical, like it had been carved with a giant hole punch. The sight of it sent ripples of dread skidding over Jeth’s skin. What had made it?
It is a floating coffin.
The head, arms, and legs of a man still lay on what remained of the bed, but the torso was missing, cut away from the body with the same precision as the rest of the hole. No blood stained the mattress, as if whatever had done the cutting had cauterized the wounds as it sliced through.
But not everyone on board is dead. There are survivors, siblings. A young man, a beautiful girl, a little girl. They hold secrets that a number of powerful people would kill to have. The siblings will endanger Jeth and his crew's life.

The Setting: Vague, but it works. I wish there were some background like in Firefly, because there really was not much history of HOW this current world came to be. I don't know how we ended up in space. I don't know how all the planets and intergalactic systems came to be. I'm not quite sure what happened in the time between NOW and THEN. It is very, very vague, but it does the job of not shooting itself in the foot with inconsistencies.

Overall: Fun, but I'd rather rewatch Firefly.

589 reviews1,030 followers
January 9, 2014
See more reviews at YA Midnight Reads

I think Avalon is the first book in quite a while that has made me feel really disappointed. Sure, I’ve read some bad books lately but none of those had I expected to turn out to be crazy brilliant reads; therefore not resulting me into being disappointed. However, I had thought Avalon would be a crazy brilliant read. I mean honestly, teenage mercenaries in space? HELLZ YEAH! The word disappointed may be overused yet it’s the only word that can describe what I felt and still am feeling when I finished Avalon.

I did get teenage mercenaries in space, but it didn’t feel and sound as awesome and epic as I had believed upon reading the synopsis. Basically we have a boy named Jeth Seagrave whose parents are dead and only his only family he has is his little sister, Lizzie and uncle, Milton. The three of them work for Hammer along with another bunch of people and together they are known as the Malleus Shades. One of the things that made Avalon bearable was Jeth and his crew’s relationship among one and another. I loved how each and every member had a significant task when they were out on missions. They were practically like one big family.
He had to. For them. For Lizzie and Celeste and Flynn and Shady. His family. He had to save them from the fate that waited for him. He was all they had.

Honestly, love it. The dialogue that’s shared and everything about the crew was brilliant. They’re always looking out for each other and battle through everything side by side.

Per contra, my biggest complaint was Jeth. His narration made me want to go to sleep for I dunno, a thousand years. There’s something about the way this book was written and narrated that made me feel so detached and bored out of brains. I wouldn’t say it was the writing itself (even though it's told in 3rd person), but I felt that it was mainly due to Jeth’s unlikable and monotonous personality. I just couldn’t bear it. He felt like a robot even. A robot that has been trained all his life to look after Lizzie like an overprotective mother. He gets anxious feelings in his gut when his little sister sighs. Like dude, get a chill pill! Lizzie and I are about the same age (13-14) and I would be rather irritated to have a brother who mothered me that close. I’ll admit that Jeth was a good brother sometimes, only when he wasn’t being such a worry-wart-wuss, but a loving and caring brother when his sister actually needed his aid.

My second qualm with Avalon was the predictability. I saw the twists a mile away and facepalmed whenever they were revealed. Because as if they didn’t see them coming! You’d think some experienced, trained and generally smart mercenaries would see these spiraling twists coming, getting little hints or at least second guessing things but no, the clues fly right in the corner of the characters' eyes and ignore it. *le sigh*

Lastly, I was not a fan of the romance. It was a small element in the book but I felt it was unnecessary and confusing. There was a slight instant attraction when Jeth first saw Sierra and there was no build up towards the romance whatsoever. I believe that Avalon would have been better off without a romance. Is it a rule we must have one to get a YA novel published these days? I think not. (Even though, y'know, pretty much all have one anyway.)

Due to the poor romance, lame main character and predictable plot twists I struggled to like Avalon regardless of my excited-ness beforehand. The only two points that I liked was the relationship within the crew and the world building which was relatively strong.

~Thank you Balzer & Bray for sending me this copy!~

319 reviews1,898 followers
January 22, 2014
Actual rating is 3.5 stars - was initially conflicted about this, but since the first half would have amounted to about 2.5 stars, and the second half 4, it evened out to 3.5 stars total.

I have two confessions: one, I am generally not a fan of space operas and novels of the like, so I wasn't sure whether or not I would like Avalon, and two, I have never seen an episode of Firefly. Not one. So I pretty much went into Avalon blind as to exactly what kind of book it would be, since I could probably count the amount of space operas I've read on one hand. All I knew for sure about Avalon was that it was met with mixed to positive reviews from friends of mine, and its pacing was slow for some of them.

I am glad that I knew the latter was true for Avalon, because if I didn't, I would have most likely abandoned it about 150 pages through. You guys, this book is slow. The first half was just so boring for me. Many big things happen, and Mindee Arnett has to lay out the groundwork for her world and her characters; I understand this, obviously. World-building is necessary, especially for a novel set as far into the future as Avalon. But really, with Jeth's narrative throughout the entire half being almost dull and lifeless, I couldn't connect with the plot or the characters (the latter of which remained flat even in the second half, although by then the plot was good enough for me to have something else to focus on).

But, all of that changed pretty much within the span of five pages or so, right towards the middle of the novel. If I had abandoned Avalon during its first half, I would have missed out on all the fun to be had throughout practically all of the second half: the tons of betrayal, the fun and intriguing plot twists, and the well written and engaging action. The entire book, honestly, is not very character-focused. It's much more action-focused, which is definitely okay since Avalon isn't really trying to be anything other than a fun, action-oriented read. The book of course would have had more of an impact on me should I have had an emotional connection with the characters, but I'm taking Avalon for what it is, and that's a book with not a lot of character development.

That isn't to say, however, that all the characters don't grow. At least one of them does, off the top of my head--the main character, Jeth. For the first half of Avalon, I didn't really like Jeth. But in the second half, as more plot twists are revealed that impact him, I got a better feel of his character since he became more vulnerable. I still don't know if I find him particularly likable, but I definitely wouldn't consider him unlikable in the end. The same goes for the other characters in the novel, too, really. There's not enough of a connection there for me to feel anything about them in regards to their likability. The same also goes for the romance that stems a bit later in the novel, which I found to be a bit flatter than the cast of characters, and as a whole rather uninspired and confusing. (The good thing about the romance, though, is that it is in very little quantity, and is absolutely nowhere near the focus of the novel.)

Still, despite the issues I have with the pacing, character development, and romance, Avalon is a really fun and action-packed read once it hits its stride. The problem is that it takes quite a while for it to do so, but the first half is definitely worth persevering through in order to get to the second. And the first half may not even be a problem for you, if you're the type of reader who likes science fiction and space operas. Basically, if the thought of Star Wars with teens excites you greatly, I don't see why Avalon wouldn't be for you. Mindee Arnett has a lot of interesting and awesome concepts and twists up her sleeve here, and I'm really curious to see where she would go with them should there be a sequel to Avalon (which I'm hoping for).
Profile Image for Alyssa.
1,069 reviews837 followers
July 30, 2014
***Review posted on The Eater of Books! blog***

Avalon by Mindee Arnett
Book One of the Avalon series
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Publication Date: January 21, 2014
Rating: 4 stars
Source: ARC sent by the publisher

Summary (from Goodreads):

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.

What I Liked:

First things first: I have never watched the show Firefly. I don't even know what it is about. So, don't expect me to compare this book to Firefly, or point out potential references or similarities, or whatever. Just saying.

Anyway, I really liked this book! I was terrified that I would seriously dislike this book, because it seems that books that I wait FOREVER to read are the ones that end up disappointing me. In general - not always. But I put off reading this one for quite some time, because I didn't want to be disappointed. And honestly, not too far into this book, I thought I was going to be disappointed.

But I wasn't! I kept reading. If you're having trouble finishing or reading this book, trust me, it gets better. I like to see this book in terms of quarters (the fractions, not the coins or the time in football). The first quarter was fantastic - definitely a great hook into the novel. The second quarter was kind of brutal. But the last two quarters (second half, whatever) required a little bit of powering through, but got interesting as they went along.

So. Jeth and his crew have a new job from his boss, Hammer: take Avalon (the ship that rightfully should be Jeth's, but was gambled away by his uncle), and go to the Belgrave (think: Bermuda Triangle) to find a ship lost for two months. Bring it back, don't board it, and there is a huge payout. Sounds like a plan? Except everything goes wrong. Starting with the fact that there were living beings on the ship, and Jeth decides to board the ship.

The plot was very engaging, once the twists and turns began. Those twists and turns didn't really began until Jeth, the crew, and the three human beings left on the lost ship are close to leaving the Belgrave. Then, something happens, and THAT'S when this book really had my attention.

You see, the beginning was great. I was hooked. Arnett did a really good job of setting up the background, the world, the characters, and fear of Hammer, the fear of the ITA, and so on. The opening scene is pretty epic. But then the second quarter of the book is kind of boring. I didn't want to keep reading, I was so bored. But then that thing I mentioned happened, and I was like, I'm checked back in!

The second half of the book is just twist after twist, and I loved this. Arnett doesn't really give you a chance to figure out EVERYTHING, which was nice. I liked this change of pace. The first quarter of the book was great, but you could predict what could happen next. The second quarter was suspicious, but boring. The last two quarters were perplexing and filled with nonstop action and guessing.

I really, really like Jeth. This book is written in third-person limited - the "limited" being restricted only to Jeth. So, it's kind of like this book is written in Jeth's point-of-view, but in third person. I love this type of perspective. And I love the character of Jeth. His character development is subtle but remarkable. The amount of obstacles that Arnett puts him through... wow. He's definitely someone that I would respect and most likely be friends with, if he were a really person. We'd get along swimmingly!

There is romance in this book, but I liked that Arnett kind of keeps it to a minimum. She doesn't overdo the romance, making it this giant THING in the book, making its plot overtake the actual plot that deals with the ships and Hammer and Renford. I like this type of romance - the type that grows as the book goes on, but doesn't make or break the book. Too many YA series these days are solely based on a romance, with half of the readers going with Team Dude A, and the other half going with Team Dude B. That's silly.

And no love triangle, YAY! That made me happy.

Overall, this book is definitely worth picking up, borrowing, buying, asking for Christmas, for a birthday, you get the idea. I wouldn't miss it, especially if you're a science fiction fan, like me. This book is heavy on the science fiction - appealing to my engineering nerdy side!

What I Did Not Like:

Like I mentioned many times before, the second quarter of this book was a tad bit brutal. First quarter? Great. Third quarter? Intriguing. Fourth quarter/climax/ending? Heart-pounding and heartbreaking. But the second quarter? Snooze.

So. If you've reached the part after Jeth gets his new assignment, to about the part where Jeth, the crew, and the three new people are about to leave Belgrave, and you can't seem to find anything interesting, POWER THROUGH IT. Because that's the worst of it - "worst" meaning boring.

Would I Recommend It:

I would! This science fiction novel has a little bit of everything for everyone! Except a love triangle. Thank goodness there is no love triangle in this one. But seriously, I'm a science fiction fan, and I really like this book. I'm not sure how different types of readers will react to this one, but hopefully, this novel won't just be for fans of science fiction!


4 stars. This one definitely lived up to my expectations! I'm so glad that I ended up enjoying this one, overall. Bring on book two!
Profile Image for Faye, la Patata.
492 reviews2,103 followers
December 4, 2013
When I first read The Nightmare Affair, I instantly became a fan of the author. I enjoyed the storyline, the writing, the humor and the pace in that particular paranormal book, and that's rare coming from me because I rank PNR very low in my preferred genres. Finding out Ms Arnett was going to write a Science Fiction complete with spaceships and interstellar travel psyched me up big time, especially since I favor that the most. If Mindee Arnett was able to hook me line and sinker with a PNR read, how much more would she be able to reel me in with a Sci-Fi?!

But, unfortunately, it left me somewhat disappointed.
I'm not even sure if it deserves the three stars from me given how I wasn't emotionally invested enough. Not that I found anything wrong with the plot... in fact, it was a bit refreshing to see two influential and equally bad institutions fighting for power with the main characters unfortunately placed in the middle of all the chaos, but for a few reasons which I will shortly disclose, the magic just did not work on me. *SAD FACE*

Okay, my first complaint: the world-building just wasn't polished enough and wasn't able to give me a clear picture of what the universe in Avalon looks like. My imagination can get pretty wild, but it can't function if you're not going to give it any description to feed on. For example, I appreciated that we were given a background of how ships in this book travel great distances, which was made possible due to a technology called Metatech (Thanks to EvE Online, an MMORPG I used to play, and Star Ocean, I have an idea how this could look like, so there's that). However, most of the time, I was never given any illustration of the ships' appearances. I guess this depends on the person (we all have our own preferences, after all), but as someone really into space and sci-fi, this is an aspect I look forward to the most. I don't care how many technical terms you put there, just give me something to imagine! You could even get inspiration from the Eve Online ship models (which are pretty awesome, btw). But like I said, there was almost no description, and if there were some, they were minimal and not engaging enough for me to create a picture in my head.

I also did not like Jeth, the main character. While I recognize his impressive love and care towards his sister, he came off as absolutely obnoxious, gullible, and selfish. He was given a truly dangerous mission, something that would threaten the lives of his crew, but instead of telling the truth to his mates, he opted to keep it from them instead to ensure he gets Avalon, his parents' ship, in the end. I'm sorry, try as I might, I just can't shake this off, and ever since that scene I've been wary of him. It doesn't help that the writing just wasn't as good as Arnett's The Nightmare Affair. I felt very detached and I just couldn't connect to him at all. There were also times when I felt the narration was a bit shallow. There are a lot of characters in this book who are more interesting than Jeth, but during my reading experience, I didn't think they were given the attention they deserved. It was all about Jeth and his obsession obtaining the Avalon from his boss. What's a reader to feel when her least favorite character is ALSO the focus of the narration?

There were also some things that I felt were placed there for convenience but never explained later on. See, there was this one scene where the main character was separated from the rest of the group. Then out of nowhere, his friends came running to his rescue, thanks to the love interest, of course! Unsure how she was able to make it happen, he asked her, and she replied (non-verbatim), "Oh, we created a special communication system with CharacterA when we were kids, so there!"

... ok?

The thing here is, ladies and gentlemen, I wouldn't have had any qualms with that if the kind of special communication system and the way she was able to do this when the place was heavily guarded were explained. I just can't easily accept a rescue mission that conveniently popped out of nowhere if there were no descriptive account of how that came to be. I mean, come on, I read books to escape the real world, but my brain needs to make sense of it, too.

I also didn't appreciate the romance. It felt weird and rushed. There were not many scenes with them together that really justified their "love". Also, not to mention, I really had a hard time believing Jeth's sincerity when in the first few days of their meeting, all he ever thought about was making out with her. They go try to find something important (read: IMPORTANT), and his mind was occupied with thoughts of kissing her madly. In the middle of a life and death situation in a torture room, he thought of how beautiful she was... sigh. I don't know, I'm a romantic, but in these situations, my bullshit radar is alert as fuck, and logic trumps the hopeless lover in me. #Sorrynotsorry

All in all, it was an okay read. I definitely felt Arnett's PNR series was better, but I'll definitely check out the next book to see if it will successfully reel me in. For now, though, a low three stars.
Profile Image for Lindsay Cummings.
Author 13 books5,147 followers
December 18, 2013
I FREAKING LOVED IT!! sooo good. awesome unique scifi story, totally perfect for fans of Firefly. amazing characters, awesome plot twists, and I spent 2 nights up in a row reading it. I'm obsessed with it! :)
Profile Image for Elizabeth Norris.
Author 10 books1,202 followers
June 18, 2013
I love this book. Mindee Arnett is an amazing writer.

FIREFLY fans, trust me, you will not be able to read this fast enough.
503 reviews142 followers
December 28, 2014
I'm going to throw eloquence out the window in favor of adapting a slang term for my own reviewing purposes: DAT COVER.  I don't even know what that thing is on top, but it's fabulous.  When I first saw this book, I didn't even care what it was about.  I just knew I needed to get my hands on this beautiful piece of art.  Then I read the description, and I needed it even more badly. 

I love how the description calls this "a great match for fans of Firefly".  It should be more like "this book is basically Firefly.  With teenagers."  (Apparently the author has a daughter named Inara, so don't tell me Firefly wasn't the main inspiration for this.)  So many of the characters match up.  Jeth is Mal.  Lizzie is Kaylie.  Celeste is Inara, possibly.  The little girl...I'm completely drawing a blank on her name...is River.  Her adoptive older siblings, whose names also escape me, are Simon.  Shady is Jayne.  Flynn is Wash.  And so on.  I bring this up not to complain about lack of originality, but just to point out how accurate the comparison in the description is.  Also, is nobody going to talk about the fact that Jeth's full name is Jethro?  Hello, Colin Morgan, anybody?  

While I didn't fall in love with this book, I still really enjoyed it.  The plot is compelling and never gets slow.  The characters are dynamic, real, and interesting.  This is one of those books that, while I liked it, I have little to say in a review.  I don't have any specific criticisms, either.  Overall, it didn't disappoint, and I'm eager to read the sequel.   

Similar Books:
It features lots of spaceships, and teenagers flying and/or in spaceships, like Glow and A Confusion of Princes.  It also reminds me of Black Hole Sun and Airborn.

Read more of my reviews at http://anniesepicblog.blogspot.com.

Before reading:That cover. HOLY ASDLKJF HOW COOL IS THAT I CAN'T

Ahem. Anyway, this looks, like Nine here is saying, utterly fantastic. When I saw it, I was like this to the "to-read" button:

Maybe it'll have some of this:

(Meaning, maybe there will be adorable, awesome characters like this. Or, meaning I just wanted to throw in a GIF of Chekov because...Chekov.)

But the release date:

Let us commence the waiting.
Profile Image for ⭐Anny⭐ (Book Princess).
423 reviews261 followers
February 8, 2018
4.5 stars
Well that was one fast paced and exciting book! What a ride, I loved it!!

I had this on my tbr for quite a while and went into not really knowing what to expect - but I for sure didn't expect this. I've barely read a book as action packed as Avalon, and I loved it! I loved the pacing of the story, there was always something going on, and omg these PLOT TWISTS! I didn't see half of them coming! This book managed to surprise me several times and that's something I'm looking for in a book.

The story was super interesting and it seemed that in the end, it was a completely different one than in the beginning. But everything came together really well and made sense. In between, the author put some really cool ideas about aliens (if you want to call it that) and this sort of Bermuda triangle in space which was really creepy, but in a good way ;) And I've said it already and I'll say it again, the action scenes were flawless imo!

The characters fit into the story and I liked the overall atmosphere of the crew, with their banter and joking, but they still knew they could rely on each other and worked together very well. I liked that boys and girls were equally important and everyone had his or her talent. There wasn't exactly much character development, but this book is so plot driven, it didn't really matter. I'm more of a plot person anyway, so it was perfect for me.
Oh one more thing, I LOVED Jeths 'relationship' to his spaceship! I wouldn't have needed the romance (even though it was a rather small part of the story), but how he talks about his ship was so cute in some way!

So Avalon had everything I'm looking for in a sci-fi novel: spaceships, intergalactic travel, awsome fight scenes and futuristic (although creepy) technology. I didn't expect to love this book so much and I'll definitely pick up the sequel, because even though this story was pretty much completed, there are still mysteries to solve and new planets to explore!
Profile Image for Brendon Lowe.
87 reviews14 followers
November 30, 2022
What an adventure filled ride this book is. Jeth and his crew of teenage mercenaries work for a brutal crime Lord Hammer and travel the galaxies stealing space ships. Jeths main goal in life is to secure enough money to buy back the Avalon the space ship his parents owned when they worked for the ITA the corrupt governing body which allows space travel to occur between the various star systems. His parents were executed after being found guilty of treason against ITA and the ship is now in the hands of Hammer.

However after a bungled thieving adventure Jeth and his crew are sent on a mission into deep space to locate a missing ship with a secerative weapon on board.

This is action packed and the pace relentless as we follow our crew and the people we meet along the way. It has many twists, lots of backstabbing and non stop galatic fighting along the way.

Will Jeth ever get custody of the Avalon or find out what really happened to his parents? Will he become free of Hammer and the ITA who are chasing him? Will he survive the ordeal? Only one way to find out.....
Profile Image for Crystal.
449 reviews89 followers
January 27, 2014
Sci-Fi books are always a challenge for me. I usually like them, but picking them up is never easy for some reason. I'm guessing it might be due to all the strange tech and worlds that always seem to be in each novel, but usually when I do pick one up I am quite satisfied and surprised at how much I truly do like this genre. Avalon not only held true to this, but it turned out to be one of my favorites among all the other Sci-Fi books on my shelf.

Jeth is a thief, but he is one of the best thieves out there. With his crew behind him he knows he can pull off any con. Problem is that he works for Hammer, the crime lord that nobody every thinks to disobey. Jeth is has to work for him only long enough to earn back his ship Avalon, which his drunken uncle lost in a card game a long time ago. If Jeth can pull off enough cons he will have just the amount he needs and take his crew including his 13 year old sister with him far far away from Hammer and his reign of terror. Unfortunately a huge kink gets thrown into his plans when he gets sent on his last job. All he has to do is retrieve a spaceship that is lost in the Belgrave, don't board it no matter what, and bring it back to Hammer. Easy right? Wrong, when Jeth discovers that this ship isn't exactly empty he decides to disobey Hammer and in doing so he opens up a whole can of worms.

This has to be one of the funnest books I have ever read. It totally kept me on the edge of my seat the entire time! I absolutely loved that the author chose to make the tough situations real. There wasn't any overpowering or eye rolling saves. It all felt real and things didn't always go the way the characters wanted and I loved it. Sometimes this genre can get a little too much and the heroines don't feel real at all. Things just always work out for them, but Jeth and his band of misfits learned that things hardly ever go the way they need them too. With this though they learned how to create opportunities and it was exciting to see them find a way to escape certain situations. Like I said I was on the edge of my seat wondering how things would turn out and man was it an exciting ride!

The story is very believable which again I sometimes find not all books can pull off. I could totally grasp the world that Ms.Arnett created and it all made sense. I really enjoyed her twist thrown in the middle and even though I did guess what the culprit was behind things it was still thrilling to see the reveal. I really love seeing the light bulb go off in a characters head and when Jeth learns the truth it was like BAM! I relearned it too and it made it feel like I had never known to begin with. Ms. Arnett is one talented author!

I think one of my favorite parts was the way the romance was woven in. It wasn't in your face and it was a very nice spin on the story especially since this was told in Jeths POV. I thought it was very sweet and took up enough of the story to where I knew it was there, but not enough to where I thought it took center stage.

The true story is the why's behind the metatech and why Jeth is in the situation he is in. I am really hoping that there will be a sequel to this and there definitely is enough unanswered questions to make one. I have to say one more thing before I close out this review. I will forever be haunted by the spider thingys that the author uses in this story *shudders* She describes them in such detail even down to the suction sounds that I am forever scared. ICK! But I have to say it was a brilliant addition to the story and I want to know more!!
Profile Image for Jaime (Two Chicks on Books).
825 reviews401 followers
January 11, 2015
Loved this! It was like Firefly, Pandorum, and all the Star Treks mixed into a book of awesomeness!!!! I can't wait for book 2 :)
Profile Image for Sara (Freadom Library).
432 reviews242 followers
August 25, 2017
Actual rating 4.5 stars

This review was originally posted at https://freadomlibrary.wordpress.com/

Check out my series review here: https://freadomlibrary.wordpress.com/...

Plot – 4.5 out of 5 stars
action packed, mystery, suspense, minimal romance, themes of family and friendship, plot twists galore, but there was something missing, not 100% sold

Writing Style – 4 out of 5 stars
engaging, entertaining, fast paced, detailed, descriptive, sometime confusing when describing the space travel and other science related topics, but still not too complicated in general

Characters – 4 out of 5 stars
This is where things felt off for me. There’s nothing that I dislike about the characters, they’re all interesting and complex and the dynamics between them were both touching and entertaining but I just couldn’t fall in love with them for some reason. Jeth was an okay main character, I found him generally interesting but it’s kind of weird to read a book from a guy’s perspective only. He’s kind of reckless and a thrill seeker, yet he’s smart and strong. He’s conflicted on how to carry himself and what best to do for everyone that counts on him. Yet towards the end, he becomes more hopeful and looks forward to a better future. Because this book is about a crew of teenagers, there’s a lot of side characters. Some are present in the beginning and others come into play towards the middle. While I connected with more some than others, the relationships between them are all complex and distinct between each individual. That’s one of the things I really liked about the characters.

Profile Image for Debbie.
295 reviews129 followers
December 28, 2013

2.5 Stars

I have always had a hard time with sci-fi novels, and this one is no different. The book starts off beautifully and kept my attention, but during the middle, the whole story falters and becomes very boring. This also happens for most, if not all of the characters. Their sneaky ways come to a screeching halt, and they are so bland that I would've rather eat original oatmeal. And I hate original oatmeal.

The Malleus Shades are known as one of the best thieves in the galaxy, but all I pictured while reading about them was this:

The Malleus Shades fall again and again fall for traps that logical people (me! For crying out loud I am so oblivious, but I saw all of those traps from miles away!) would easily spot. The fact that they're teenagers shouldn't be an excuse since they've been doing this shit for years. Their leader, Jeth, reminds me of this guy:

They have some many things in common. 1. They both have an intense, menacing aura around them. 2. They both like someone they shouldn't. 3. THEY NEVER TALK. THEY SAY A FEW FUCKING LINES AND THEN THAT'S FUCKING IT. UGH. The dialogue is a bit tough since Jeth NEVER talks and most things are just in his head. There are certain parts in the novel where there are long information-dumps (near the end, don't worry) that, albeit better done than other books, is still annoying.

But, I have to give Mindee Arnett props for the amazing world building. The planets that the crew visit are described in lovely detail that left just the right amount to readers to imagine. I have a hard time connecting with sci-fi books and even worse time when they're written in the third person yet Arnett is talented. She writes beautifully in both first and third person, and I had almost no problems with the writing.

All in all, Avalon is a good book. The romance doesn't take over the story (though it is a bit annoying), and there's a nice twist in the book that had me eagerly flipping the pages. I recommend this book to anyone who loves sci-fi stories that's a bit different and don't mind bland characters. I can't wait to read the next book mostly because of Cora and hopefully the characters get better. Especially Jeth because that boy says like, two lines per chapter. I'm not even kidding.
Profile Image for Lucie V..
979 reviews1,517 followers
March 29, 2022
✅ Space setting
✅ Villain
🆗 Characters
🆗 Plot
🆗 Pace
🆗❌ Romance

Teenage mercenaries in space? Yes, please!

Sadly, this book was not nearly as cool and intense as I thought/hoped it would be.

Jeth Seagrave, his little sister Lizzie, and their uncle Milton work for Hammer along with other people that became Jeth's new family. Together they are known as the Malleus Shades.

He had to. For them. For Lizzie and Celeste and Flynn and Shady. His family. He had to save them from the fate that waited for him. He was all they had.

The "found family" vibe is there and the characters are always looking out for each other. The first part of this book is very exciting, there is a mystery, and the intrigue is good enough, but after that, it just drags on and on and on, and I just lost interest. Also, I was not a fan of the romance in this book. There is no real build-up, it was almost an insta-lust/insta-love, and I don't see what it brought to the story.

The writing is good, but the characters are not very developed, so it was hard to connect with them and I ended up not really caring about them. They were not bad, but they were not very original either and lacked depth and personality. At least the villain was interesting and kept the story a little more intriguing.

This book is also quite predictable, and the fact that a group of experienced mercenaries, that seem to be quite clever, never saw any of the twists coming, and never second-guessed anything seemed a little unrealistic. The ending is good, but I got so bored in the second half of the book that I was not even really involved in the plot anymore by the time I ended this book.

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Profile Image for Jeann (Happy Indulgence) .
1,001 reviews3,066 followers
February 20, 2014
This review appears on Happy Indulgence. Check it out for more reviews!

Looking for a great sci-fi YA novel but haven’t found it yet? Avalon is the space adventure you’ve been looking for. With space ships, metatech, sci-fi technology, galactic stops and an ultimate villain, I thoroughly enjoyed Avalon for my sci-fi fix.

Jeth Seagrave and his crew work for Hammer, a boss as unscrupulous as they come, because all he wants is to earn his parents’ ship back. The crew is sent away to Belgrave, to find a ship that has been lost and to bring it back to Hammer. They discover that there are living beings on the ship and they go against orders to investigate, and this is where the plot kicks off.

Jeth offered a strong perspective, he’s brave, loyal, caring and a fantastic captain, but some of his risky decisions and fixation on winning his ship back made him difficult to connect to at the start. He grew on me though, as he demonstrated his loyalty to each and every one of his crew members and his love for his sister Lizzie. While he goes through excellent character development, his crew members could have been explored a bit more with their complementary skills and loyalty to the captain.

The pacing is done wonderfully throughout the novel, with the first half of the book slowly building up the world – something that many YA novels fail to do properly. It was perfect for introducing the characters, showcasing their abilities and building up the world of the Confederation controlled by corrupt agencies and crime bosses. The second part of the novel takes off at the speed of light, filled with betrayal, double crossing, saving loved ones from Hammer and getting Avalon back, which is an exciting and fast-paced read.

I wasn’t convinced of the romance, as Jeth was easily swayed by her beauty and they seem to be kissing a bit too quickly. Sierra wasn’t a particularly likable character, although pretty and talented in meta technology, she was manipulative, conniving, with questionable morals. She was also forgiven a bit too easily by the end of the book just for the sake of romance, which was annoying. Thankfully the romance isn’t the focal point of the novel, with the space adventure and its characters taking the lead here.

What makes the novel really shine and so different from the rest is that it’s a true space adventure. I’m a huge Star Wars nerd, with the space politics, watching space ships battle and zoom through space and all of the interesting technology they use, so I absolutely loved Avalon. You’ll have images of Avalon flying through space, getting phased in and out and the crew manning each part of the ship. With the addition of scientific experiments, life form on other planets and meta technology, Avalon was written for a true sci-fi audience.

Avalon is a true galactic adventure that lovers of space, Firefly and sci-fi will thoroughly enjoy.

I received an ARC in exchange for an honest review from Edelweiss and Balzer + Bray.
Profile Image for Jon.
599 reviews627 followers
December 20, 2013
Check out Scott Reads It!
I really had no idea what to expect from Avalon because it was compared to Firefly and I hadn't seen the show yet. After watching a few episodes of Firefly, I realized that Avalon's plot is extremely similar to Firefly's and that so many of the characters from Avalon bear an uncanny resemblance to those from Joss Whedon's popular TV show. I definitely think that fans will enjoy this novel, despite the immense similarities to Firefly.

Avalon starts off strong with an extremely memorable beginning that does a perfect job of introducing our main character, Jeth. The 1st half of Avalon is full of action, humor, and a fun plot-line that kept me really entertained and I was so convinced that Avalon would be a 5 star read or very close to it. Then I started to read the 2nd half and then everything went downhill when a romance was added.

The romance in Avalon is poorly done and I wasn't a fan of the whole Sierra-Jeth match up at all. There was zero chemistry between the two and their relationship was an insta-love mess. Mindee Arnett wasn't very subtle in they way she introduced obstacles just to bring the two even closer together. This book would have been so much better if there was no romance at all because the romance just bogged down the plot and made me dread continuing Avalon.

The 2nd half wasn't terrible, but it really was such a disappointment after the spectacular 1st half. The 2nd half is full of non-stop unpredictable plot twists that were really well-done, but I just couldn't make myself care because I was so annoyed with the direction of the romance. Romance can definitely make or break a book and in this case, the romance didn't really fit in with the plot and was extremely awkward.

I'll definitely be reading the sequel to Avalon, in hopes that the romance doesn't overshadow the plot for me. I'm a bit disappointed with Avalon, but it was still entertaining and enjoyable. Avalon wasn't quite what was I expecting, but was it still a pretty good sci-fi space opera!
Profile Image for Lindsay.
1,240 reviews219 followers
December 27, 2017
Faster than light travel through metaspace by drives or gates has allowed humanity to spread through space. However, the metaspace technology is controlled by the ruthless and tyrannical Interstellar Transport Authority (ITA) whose cruel practices have made a fertile ground for criminal organizations. A young crew of spaceship thieves led by Jeth Seagrave works for the crime boss Hammer Dafoe. Jeth hopes to one day afford to buy back his parent's spaceship Avalon from Dafoe and works towards that goal. When a job comes along that promises to earn Jeth his goal, he's forced to face some family secrets as well as the realities of working for someone as ruthelessly evil as Hammer.

This duo was a bit of a surprise for me. It starts out very soft with a not terribly believable setup (ruthless crimelord who relies on a team of kids) but it fairly quickly gets much more serious with some major consequences for our protagonists. That is to say that in terms of YA SF, it goes from Starflight to Illuminae, which is some very good company to be in my book. The main thing I would criticize is some sloppy use of cheap SF tropes like sensors (that even detect biohazards!) and artifical gravity without comment, but given the YA target audience that are already familiar with these tropes, the choice to take these shortcuts to make more room for the complicated plot makes a lot of sense.

Better than expected.
Profile Image for gabi.
998 reviews20 followers
November 25, 2016
So…this was really cool. I just wasn’t as into it at the beginning, because it took awhile to really get going. Also, some things were just too simple and easy.

Almost all the star systems is under the control of the agencies of the Confederation. It is they who control metatech the devices that allow people to travel great distances in a short amount of time. It is what the star systems have come to rely on to survive. And it is one of the main reasons that the agencies are so corrupt. Jethro Seagrave and his crew of teenage mercenaries work for one of the most notorious crime bosses in the star systems. It their job to steal precious metatech for their boss. And their one of the best teams to do it. Jeth care about what he does for his job, he has an ulterior motive. He’s hoping to save enough money to by back his parents’ ship, Avalon and take his sister Lizzie and his uncle Milton out of this situation. But his plan may never become reality when he’s given this strange mission that leads him to come into information that both his boss and the Confederation want. And both are willing to go to all extremes to get to it.

Jeth, I really liked him. He was really humorous and smart (well, except for those not-so-smart moments). He’s a good leader. Absolutely family means everything to him. He’s willing to do anything for those he cares about. He doesn’t want anyone to worry about him. Thinking that he can take care of himself gets him into some trouble. Jeth is a pretty awesome character. Celeste is one of the odd ones in his crew that seems to not serve a real purpose. She is stubborn, has some anger issues, and very “hot” as people would say. She is totally not someone that you should mess with. Will Shady is all muscles and guns and ammunition. He isn’t the smartest, but he’s not stupid either, at least, most of the time. If he’s stuck in a bad situation, he’ll still fight no matter how hopeless. He’s not one easily cowed. Flynn is the technician. He has a very weak stomach, and can not handle scary stuff. He’s a naturally nervous people. But when he’s really nervous, he talks and yells a lot. He’s cautious and doesn’t like pressure at all. Lizzie is the hacker. She’s smart, but still learning how to do things. She loves the excitement of the adrenaline rush. She loves to tease her brother endlessly. Very sweet and kind, she just has to take in the kitty she finds.

The writing felt a bit more kid oriented. I guess that I read to many young adult books. It wasn’t childish though, so I really enjoyed it. It was easier to read this way. I will say that at the beginning the was a lot of info dumped on me, but it wasn’t too bad. The best part about the writing was the way the spaceships and space itself were described. It felt so real and moving. So cold, so beautiful. I had never felt it described in such a way and I really really loved it.

The plot was very fast paced, except for a little at the beginning. There were lots of fights and spaceship battles. It was really cool. There were betrayals. I didn’t know who to trust. There was that feeling of adventure in exploring new places where hardly anyone has ever been. There were many interesting and crazy revelations. Almost too many in too short a time, in my opinion. It felt like a bit of an overload of secrets revealed. There was plot twists that I wasn’t expecting. It was really intense and exciting and fun at the same time. Towards the end, there were to me a few dangerous situations that seemed a little too easily gotten out of.

I will say that there was some language. And f*** was used once. I didn’t like it, but it wasn’t too bad. Twice two people pretended to make out in a hallway as a part of their mission. It didn’t get overtly inappropriate thankfully. There was also mentioning of a crime boss selling girls to old men. This can also be considered kind of creepy and scary. It could scare some sensitive readers with the dismembered bodies, but it wasn’t too descriptive.

So I enjoyed this book a good bit. It was a fun light read. I’d just caution for younger readers. So I’d recommend older teens and up.

You can check out this review on my blog too, at: https://aheartredeemed.wordpress.com/...
Profile Image for Sarah Elizabeth.
4,670 reviews1,268 followers
January 12, 2014
(Source: I received a digital copy of this book for free on a read-to-review basis. Thanks to HarperCollins and Edelweiss.)
Jeth is a thief, and he’s good at it.
Leader of a gang of teens who work for an extremely powerful man, Jeth is slowly saving his money in hopes of buying back the Avalon – his dead parent’s spaceship, which his uncle lost whilst gambling.
When Jeth is approached by a man claiming to be from the ITA (Interstellar Transport Agency), and offered a deal in which he would get his ship back, he is loath to cross his boss Hammer, and instead tries to use the situation to his advantage with his boss.

Things take a turn for the worse though, and suddenly Jeth and his crew end up in a very dangerous and risky position.
Can Jeth really gain anything from such a dodgy situation though? Can he keep his younger sister from being sent to work in a brother by his boss? And who can he really trust?

This was an interesting sci-fi/dystopian, but I lost interest towards the end.

Jeth was an okay character, but I did think him a little too trusting and naïve at times. When he thought his situation was getting better and better, I thought it was getting worse and worse!

The storyline was good, and I loved the creepy moments we got at the beginning. This book reminded me a bit of the film ‘Event Horizon’ at points, and I really was creeped out in some of the earlier chapters.
Unfortunately though I felt like the story lost its way a bit around the 50% mark. Although we continued to have lots of interesting developments, I found myself really easily distracted which wasn’t the case at all in the earlier chapters. I also felt like some of the explanations of things which we received became a little hard to believe, even in the sci-fi setting of this book, which spoiled certain parts for me.
There was some romance, although again there were trust issues, and it was quite difficult to work out who would betray who. There were again some twists in the relationships in this book though which was good.

The ending was okay, but I had lost interest by that point to be honest. I will probably read the sequel because I really liked the first half of this book, but it did become a bit boring towards the end.
Overall; started strong but lost its way a bit towards the end.
7.5 out of 10.
Profile Image for Natalie Garside.
63 reviews16 followers
December 18, 2013
Teenage space pirate mercenaries take on the same job from the good guys and the bad and head on into the Bermuda triangle of space for the chance to buy back their beloved ship, Avalon from an intergalactic crime boss.

I feel like this story sells itself.

On to fan casting!

Jeth Seagrave - hero, captain, boss, heart of the team.

Could he be Austin Butler? The hair alone could sell me on this.

Lizzie Seagrave - younger sister, optimist, computer hacker, genius.

I basically imagine her as Punky Brewster.

Sierra - badass, on the run, blonde with skills, whose side is she on? Sass-tastic. OTP.

She's blonde like Jemima West:

With Izzy from City of bones attitude:

I can't possibly cast everyone so lets move on to the other plot elements.

The ship - omg the ship. I ship the ship. OTP with self. Avalon.

I promised myself no Firefly gifs for this review...I lied.

The plot:

The plot twists:

No author, no I did not. I would guess 1 thing and she'd be like WHAT ABOUT THESE 5 OTHERS MWAHAHAHA.

Everything presented in this story was used multiple times, unexpectedly and then, the real treat, resolved by the end.



Firefly fans, trekkies, whovians...this plotline, this world-building, this story...might just be for you.

You're welcome.
Profile Image for Lainey.
261 reviews1,569 followers
April 2, 2014
Wow. I really loved this book. I've recently been getting more into the YA SciFi genre and really interested in space and this book was a great great introduction to the galaxy aspect. This book follows Jeth Seagrave who is the leader of a heist team. Him and his crew work for one of the biggest and most dangerous crime lords in the universe. They steal spaceships and the technology that is inside of them - metadrives. Of course, there is one job, that changes everything.

Jeth was an incredible hero. I loved his character development and the feel of family between him and the crew. I had fun visualizing the world and the new terms. A couple times I had a hard time picturing what was going on, but overall, this book is extremely visual.

What I loved most about this book was how I was always guessing what was happening next, and I was always wrong. Things happen in this book that you would least expect! If you think the story is going in one direction, it's not. It'll take a 180 and go down a different path.

If you're looking for a fast-paced highly visual science fiction adventure, check out this book!
Profile Image for Andrew (BritBookBoy).
90 reviews216 followers
February 27, 2014
I wasn't too sure what to make of this at the start but I ended up really enjoyed this one, especially the second half. Man, did Arnett drop some pretty awesome plot twists in there. Definitely excited for the sequel!
Profile Image for Sandy.
480 reviews328 followers
July 25, 2015
I didn't really like this book. I did enjoy the middle part of the book but I just found myself reading it just to be finished with it. I didn't connect to the characters but I liked the plot and I liked how it ended.
Profile Image for Kend.
1,249 reviews67 followers
January 16, 2015

Okay, let’s face it: other people have done a fantastic job in reviewing this book, and in unpicking the tightly threaded parallels to Joss Whedon’s Firefly + Serenity universe.  All you have to do is scroll through the reviews on Goodreads to find both excellent plot and character deconstructions.  I won’t even touch that, but I’d like to address another element of the book’s appeal: how it fits into the ever-broadening scope of Young Adult literature.

The five complaints I hear most often about YA, particularly YA science fiction, are that it is 1) derivative, 2) repetitive, 3) rife with unrealistic relationships, 4) “fad-ish” instead of lasting in appeal, and 5) it’s white, white, white.  As my library’s sole Youth Services Librarian, I hear these complaints a lot—even while they sneak copies of Divergent and The Fault in Our Stars on the sly.  While there is some truth to all of these charges—and I think they can be levied against the most “serious” of literary texts, too, all the way back to Augustine and Plato and the Great Dead Men of Western Literature—I think the only indefensible reality of YA and the core collections in most libraries is 5). 

A lack of diversity and representation is a deadly weakness, indeed.  But let’s face it: while even the whitest of white librarians is practically frothing at the mouth to push advocacy on the shelves, the collections themselves remain almost untouched.  It’s soul-suckingly terrible to watch the cogs spinning and the gears stuck in this complex machine of a system.  And it’s not that libraries are static and unchanging—the sudden maturation of YA literature from seed to full flower has seen entire new sections added to the West’s physical and digital libraries.  It has gone from being a niche to a raging industry, and in 2014 catapulted both John Green and Veronica Roth into Forbe’s top 15 (living) money-making authors.

In some ways, Mindee Arnett is too new for me to draw any conclusions.  Her first book, The Nightmare Affair, was only published in 2013.  Avalon was released in 2014, and its sequel, Polaris, is due out in four days—that is, on January 20th, 2015.  But so far, all of her books have proven popular, at least in the sense that people are reading them and talking about them by the thousands.  To return to the five complaints I listed above, this book provides a great platform for talking about all of them, as they have all been mentioned in one review or another. 

Leaving aside accusations of its derivative nature (à la Firefly), I think it’s worth taking a look at Avalon in light of the other points.  These complaints carry with them a whiff of scholarly brimstone, and the crushing weight of academia’s demands for literary works.  Whatever books rise out of obscurity into blockbuster popularity will always catch the critical eye of the snobbish elite, and I must count myself a part of this skeptical crowd.  I am a librarian and an MFA and taught college composition for four years, after all.  I have been trained to spot the mistakes of others and to rectify them.  The burden of fixing other writers’ failings is one that graduate students and professors are quite literally required to take up, and the ability to step back and simply enjoy a book is not one that the Institution grants its members. 

So, objectively: Is Avalon repetitive?  Yes.  Are the relationships between Jeth and his shipmates, particularly Sierra, unrealistic?  Well, that’s debatable.  We have yet to carry out controlled experiments upon teenagers in spacefaring societies.  Personally, I think the jury’s out on Arnett’s narrator, Jeth.  He has a nice rapport with Celeste, his not-love-interest, but then there’s the small matter of his fixation on Sierra, the strong-female-action-hero archetype.  His paternal instincts towards his little sister, Lizzie, didn’t strike me as any more extreme than his feelings for everyone else, much less out of place in science fiction or YA lit.  Is Avalon “fad-ish”?  I don’t happen to think so.  I mean, if anything, the Space Western has more or less lapsed into dormancy, while the more traditional branches of science fiction are seeing a resurgence.  Pleasingly, Avalon carries more than a hint of the Space Horror genre, too, particularly in the early scenes aboard the Donerail (a space ship).  On the Donerail, I caught hints of atmosphere more reminiscent of Alien and perhaps the opening scene of Leviathan Wakes than of Firefly.  (Bravo, Arnett!)  The nature of metatech lends itself towards a rapport with those texts, too.  There’s some swash and buckle to Avalon, but for the most part it’s a series of action sequences strung between atmospheric moments in confined spaces.  And finally, is Avalon just another addition to the white canon of YA?  Well, yes.  It’s rooted in a fundamentally Western worldview, which we know is very, very white, and very, very privileged.  That’s not to say Arnett doesn’t make nice gestures towards representation and diversification in her writing, but this is not a symbolic book for either side of the #DiversityInYA conversation.  (And we all know how problematic it is, too, for white authors to promote themselves as advocates—so perhaps it’s wise for her not to make the attempt?)

Ultimately, whether you fall in love with Avalon or any other YA book is going to depend on how much you can unlink your expectations from the polarized debates that swirl around the genre/niche/industry.  It both conforms to and defies some of our expectations of the genre, as any good book is likely to do.  It may be helpful for you to know that it has some resonance with our much-beloved Firefly, but I hope you take a moment to decide for yourself whether that’s a mark in its favor or not.  I found it moody and atmospheric, rich in creative possibility, sometimes a touch flat in respect to its character development, and its plot twists a little less twisty than they might have been.  But in this Youth Services Librarian’s mind, it’s well worth reading.  

[ for more of my reviews, visit That Fatal Shore ]

Profile Image for Aparajitabasu.
666 reviews76 followers
January 21, 2014
Original Link to the review at my blog Le' Grande Codex - here

HAPPY RELEASE DAY!! Presenting Avalon #1 Avalon by Mindee Arnett.

Here is the summary of the book:

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.

A marvelous sci-fi. A dangerous heist. Treachery and Deception and Crime Lords and their crimes at play and a lethal play to be free of the dark side, it is rather rare you see a story with all these points and it rare that the author knows how to manipulate all of them and present a coherent and an action-packed extravaganza ..... And Mindee Arnett's AVALON definitely fits the bill and is an exceptionally fine specimen of a book.

Set in a time in the far future when travel from one planet to another or star system is a common practice and the autonomous body ITA (Interstellar Transport Agency) rules it all. It is in this time that Jethro Seagrave, pawn at the hands of the ruthless crime lord Hammer Dafoe, alongwith his motley crew of teenage expert mercenaries take on a untoward heist, so that one day he can make enough to get ownership of his spaceship AVALON, the last remaining piece of his parents back.

Jeth and his crew Lizzie, Celeste, Shady and Flynn provided some very dynamic characters. They are resourceful and proficient but most of all have a good head on their shoulders, and support Jeth in every way they can. It is their retrieval mission in the mysterious Belgrave Quadrant (....which is everything you expect space to be - silent, mysterious, creepy.... and a certain likeness to the tales of the Bermuda Triangle.....) and the resulting meeting with Sierra, Vince and the adorable Cora that sets this whole affair on the go. There are secrets & conspiracies, the government and even crime lords like Hammer would kill for and it makes for an interesting read as we see Jeth and his crew deal with the upheavals and the resulting consequences.

There is not one slow bone to this book at all. Every line, every sentence, every paragraph, every page and every chapter helps to further the action. And for the most part, the pacing of the events too is very well put, always giving us chance to sink it in. There is intrigue. There are unimaginable discoveries. Space & Spacecrafts and mysterious quardrants in space-time. A fight for what is right or wrong. Brilliant and graphic action sequences...... But most of all, it is and unputdownable book and I highly recommend that you all go and get it because Mindee Arnett produces a power-packed space adventure helped along by a gorgeous cover on the front.

"Intriguing and fast-paced. Sci-fi fans will surely love the non-stop action"
Profile Image for B F.
94 reviews10 followers
September 20, 2014
Actual rating: 4.5

Release Date: January 21, 2014
Publisher: Balzer and Bray
Page Count: 432
Genre: Sci-Fi/YA

I was really really excited to read Avalon when I found out about it and since it had come out two weeks prior I immediately bought it. It completely lived up to my expectations and I enjoyed every single second of this sci-fi book about space mercenaries. People have compared Avalon to the TV show Firefly but I can't judge anything about that since I have not seen that show, however if it is anything like Avalon then I'm sure to watch it.

When I read the reviews for Avalon it seemed like they gave the book generally medium ratings (2-3.5 stars) and I became slightly worried that I wouldn't like it. Despite my worries I bought it and devoured it in one day, that's how good it was. It might start off kind of slow but as you keep reading it keeps getting better and more interesting. If you were to split it into four parts then I would say that the first part is generally good, second and third parts are really really good, and the final part is interesting and ends the book in a satisfying manner.

Avalon is about a kid named Jeth and his crew who are basically space mercenaries and work for a man named Hammer. The only reason Jeth does this job is so that he can earn enough money to buy back his ship Avalon that his uncle gambled away. He's been working for Hammer for several years when he gets a job that is risky but very rewarding, going into the Belgrave (space Bermuda Triangle) and retrieving a lost ship. If he can succeed then he will finally be able to take back his ship but if he fails then he and his crew will most likely perish. As they start off the job everything is going fine until they find the ship, the ship is covered in giant holes and it looks like there are no survivors. Once Jeth boards the ship a whole host of troubles and discoveries visit him. The plot of Avalon was extremely interesting and had my attention the whole time, especially in the second half. There are a lot of plot twists and turns and I loved every page of it. Especially when Jeth and his crew are about to leave the Belgrave and a major event happens to them. Avalon is written from Jeth's point of view and while his POV was great I would have liked to read the POV of some of the other characters. Jeth's character improves subtly from the beginning of the book to the end as he faces obstacle after obstacle. Mindee's writing from Jeth's POV was remarkable as was the other characters. She made the story flow smoothly and wrote in a way that captivated me and made me love the book. I've read many sci-fi books but Avalon by Mindee Arnett was definitely one of the best one's I've read yet.

There was some romance in Avalon but Mindee did not make it a big deal and kept to a minimum which I found actually made me like the book better. There was enough romance to keep the reader interested but not enough to overshadow the main plot and events of the novel. AND there was no love triangle which made me extremely happy, love triangles usually end in one of the characters experiencing heart break and I'm glad that that did not happen.

The only major dislike I had about Avalon was that there were some parts of it where I was bored and considered stopping my reading of the book. The biggest part where I experienced that was after Jeth leaves the ship in the Belgrave but hasn't left the Belgrave itself yet. It does get better after that but it would have been better if the scene after that part had arrived more quickly. Overall, Avalon was an extremely good sci-fi read that I thoroughly enjoyed. I'm counting down the days to the sequel and ending of the duology. If you like sci-fi, Firefly, or an interesting and really good YA read then Avalon is a book that you should read.

Review originally posted on my blog: dystopian-books.blogspot.com
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