Monday, January 20, 2014

Review: Avalon

Title: Avalon
Author: Mindee Arnett
ISBN: 0062235613
Book Genre: YA Sci-Fi 
Release Date: January 21st 2014
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Book Source: Edelweiss

Goodreads Synopsis:
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.

It needs to be said that I'm not a big fan of sci-fi as a genre. This isn't exactly something new, since I'm sure I've mentioned it before on numerous occasions. Yes, I have occasionally loved -even showcased - some of the books I've read in the genre such as Cinder, These Broken Stars, The Host and Under The Never Sky. But it's not true to the entire genre, some of it is too much for me to handle. Other times I can actually stomach it and make my way through it. The only reason I got into it a little bit was watching Doctor Who. As for why I wasn't exactly a fan of the genre, well, I usually find it completely hard to follow, and probably a lot of references and explanations go straight over my head. Plus, I personally never got the charm of aliens and whatnot. However, lately I've been slowly getting into the genre as was apparent from my 'These Broken Stars' review which is why I decided to give this book a shot. Having said that all, I quite enjoyed this book.

The book starts off with Jethro a young but very talented thief and a member - if not leader of - Malleus Shades a criminal gang that was formed by the crime lord Hammer Dafoe. Now,  Jeth despises Hammer with every fibre of his being, but the reason he stays working for him is because he thinks he can save enough money to buy back his parents' ship Avalon, which his uncle had gambled away one day. Having this ship back and sailing away is all he ever dreams of. When Jethro's latest mission goes sour, and one of the ITA (Interstellar Transport Authority) people approaches him with a preposition on an upcoming mission Hammer had planned for him, he's not sure if he should say yes or no. He's told there's a missing ship in the Belgrave Quardrant- a place where almost no other ship or person can come out of unscathed - and he needs to locate it for it contains a very dangerous and important weapon. Now if there's one thing Jethro hates more than Hammer, it would be the ITA since they murdered both his parents for treason years ago. Even as he takes the mission he's still uncertain on where his loyalties lie, because both parties weren't trustworthy and as far as he could tell very likely to betray him. Once he reaches Belgrave, he starts to notice how incredibly messed up this place is; how there's more to it than meets the eye, and the big question is whether or not he and his crew will even make it out alive.

So the first part of the book was very complicated for me because there was a lot of outer space and new world lingo that took me a while to grasp, which in turn resulted in me taking more time than usual to get into the story. The world building was well done don't get me wrong, but it wasn't as easy for me to follow at first. Now I think eight or nine chapters in, the story finally picks up and you start enjoying it. What's interesting about this world is, I couldn't tell if there was a predominant law enforcing organization since as far as I could tell, the law and world was run by the ITAs but from what I understood they're more of an experimental and scientific organization to facilitate travel and since they had the fastest engines called 'metadrives' which makes jumping easier, they were the richest and most powerful. Why and how they enforced the law, as in what gave them the right is still a mystery to me. Maybe I missed it? The opposing force to the ITAs would be Hammer and his Brethren of guards (I'm still confused on the roles and hierarchy with him). Hammer had so many connections helping him be the best at what he does, locating whatever anyone needs with his gangs of hoodlums. Which I found weird that he was never caught, considering he was out in the open. Hammer was basically one of the meanest bastards you could ever encounter, which is probably why he needed to force his loyalty using threats or chips that could never be taken off.

This book can certainly mess with your emotions. It did so for me, although not in the traditional crying and being very sad sense of the word, it was in the gut-wrenching sense of hopelessness you get to feel alongside Jethro. Which in a way can be considered as a good thing for the author to have created such a great character with whom you can form a connection with so well to the extent that you're very upset to what happens to him. But the lack of hope, and the suffocating and crippling sense of doom and being incapable of finding a way out for not only yourself but everyone you loved had made me in turn feel a bit a claustrophobic, as if the walls were closing in on me and not him. These stories that mess with you so much both mentally and emotionally are ones I generally like to avoid, due to that I'm not very certain if I want to read more in this series or not, because I'm pretty sure things will only get so much more worse before they get better and I'm not quite positive if I can handle it. 

There was so much cruelty exercised in this book, from both Hammer and the ITA, and just reading about it made me feel a strange sense of melancholy, but I guess that's a good point for the author to be able to reduce you to such a helpless shell of a person emotionally, yes? The characters weren't all exploited as I would have liked, but you did get an in depth look into Jethro at least, and he was as real as it gets. Sierra too actually, there was more insight into her life than almost the rest, even though Jethro explained - as the story is told from his point of view - the background of his crew, they still didn't feel as three dimensional as he did as well as Sierra. Anyhow, I am hoping I can handle the rest of the books in this series, if not, I still want to know how it goes from there.

Rating: 3.5/5.

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