Sunday, January 26, 2014

Review: Avalon by Mindee Arnett

Title: Avalon
Author: Mindee Arnett
Genre: Young Adult, Sci-Fi
Series: Avalon #1 

Hardcover, 432 pages
Publication: January 21, 2014 by Balzer & Bray 

Source: I received a review copy from the publicist in exchange for a honest review; also part of spotlight tour.  

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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.

I became a fan of Arnett when she published her first book, The Nightmare Affair. When I heard she was writing another YA series I was stoked! I was immediately intrigued by Avalon’s synopsis, and was happy to learn it was going to be different from her first series; as she tackles Science Fiction. It was even on my list of most anticipated books of 2014. I might have gone into this book with high expectations, because Avalon was a big disappointment.

The author and many readers compared this book to the show Firefly. I’ve never seen the show, so I was going into this book with no preconceived notions. I really wanted to love this book, but sadly it fell flat. I look for two things when I read a book, strong world-building and realistic/developed characters; Avalon had neither of them. The world-building in my opinion was lacking. There wasn’t much in terms of description or at least nothing that made it seem believable. I never got the feeling that I was on an exotic planet or that I was in deep space. The only description I remember that was used to describe space was how vast, dark and hollow it was; sounds more like a giant black hole to me.  

Then we have the characters. They are probably the blandest group of characters I’ve ever read. I never once felt a connection to our main hero Jeth or any of his crew members/secondary characters. The dialogue in the book seemed robotic/monotone…it lacked feeling and conviction from the characters. For example the way Jeth talked about his parents, he says he misses them but I never once got the feeling he was being sincere about it. We are talking his dead parents. It felt like everything Jeth or the other characters said was for the sake of just talking. It wasn’t believable and I had a hard time empathizing with them. My main point is they’re under-developed and didn’t feel like realistic people. There are few MC that I have ever had a problem with but I found myself disliking Jeth as the book progressed. There were a lot of betrayals and secrets going on the entire book, Jeth being one of the people doing the betraying … but then he gets all mad and shocked when someone pulls a fast one on him first. Like, really? 

The romance in this book is laughable. I didn’t think it help the overall story/plot at all, but felt like it was added as an afterthought.  Jeth and his love interest’s interaction were just plain weird.  They didn’t even talk much and when they did talk; I never got the feeling they liked each other or that they had any chemistry. Their spurts of romantic interlude took place at the most random moments. For example they are about to do something dangerous and then one person has an epiphany, “oh, let’s make out!”; they  make out and then it’s back to the problem at hand…like what just happened didn’t happen. This happened on two separate occasions and it was just as freakin’ weird as the first time. 

Overall this is an okay book. The plot was alright but the pacing was extremely slow. Many reviewers/readers said it picked up pace for them around the midway point but even then I was having a hard time finishing the book. The world building was lackluster, characters were one-dimensional and the dialogue was poorly written. There were many others readers that loved this book, so while this book wasn’t for me…it might be for you! I suggest checking out a sample chapter or excerpt before purchasing or borrowing. 

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