Saturday, December 28, 2013
ARC Review: Avalon
Balzer + Bray, 2014
Scheduled to release January 21, 2014
Source: Received an e-ARC through Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.
This book caught my attention after being featured on multiple Waiting on Wednesdays posts and seeing notices that it bore some resemblance to cult classic "Firefly," a show that I personally adore. As a diehard contemporary fan, I don't tend to read much science-fiction so I also thought it would be fun to broaden my reading horizons a bit.
Right away I caught the "Firefly" vibe because our main characters are involved in a bit of thievery with the captain's beloved spaceship laying claim to a huge piece of his heart. This group of teenagers reports to a criminal mastermind and are sent to track down a weapon on a missing ship with the tantalizing promise of being released from service to live in freedom aboard the ship Avalon. But of course nothing so simple can occur for our characters as they discover something far more at stake than any mere weapon with three mysterious survivors hiding their own pieces of the puzzle and complicating the choices available to the crew.
I didn't want to go too in-depth on the plot but it all seemed sufficiently spacey to me. Almost the entire book takes place on board a few ships and travel through space is a critical component. As you get deeper in to the book, questions about who is human and behavioral modifications are further probed, which also meets my criteria for a satisfying science-fiction novel. Unfortunately the plot went a bit further and I found myself increasingly disengaged as it progressed. I think others will roll with the punches better than me though.
Unfortunately I never completely clicked with the characters, meaning that my emotional side was neglected. I did like main character Jeth upon whom the burdens of choice seem to lay on the heaviest. He's the eldest of the group and had to grow up to fast under the care of a drunken uncle after being orphaned; he protects those around him especially his younger sister Lizzie who seems to be growing up all too fast. But the book isn't in first person so while I felt we were getting valuable insight into his mind, it just didn't click the way a first person narrative more often does for me. The secondary characters weren't of much interest to me beyond the psychotic criminal mastermind Hammer and Uncle Milton who seemed to have a much more interesting past than Jeth necessarily knew.
Overall: A novel full of space and lightning fast acts of betrayal that amps up tension skillfully. Though this book wasn't quite for me, I have every confidence that readers more excited by science-fiction will find plenty to love.