Book Review: Avalon by Mindee Arnett

Title: Avalon (Avalon #1)
Author: Mindee Arnett
Publisher: Balzer & Bray
Source: ARC (Edelweiss)
Genres: Young Adult, Science Fiction
Pages: 432


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.

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//Cover Chat//

I’ve seen a lot of reviews dismiss Avalon’s cover because they don’t know what’s at the top. In my opinion, that hunk of spaceship junk is exactly why it’s a great science-fiction cover. Not to get all writing-major nerdy up in here, but I saw it as a very well done metaphor for the dark and unknown corners of space. And that text just screams classic science-fiction.

//First Line//

Stealing a spaceship shouldn’t be this easy.


Leaving out the two huge plot twists at the end, I not only predicted everything that happened but continually wondered how this story wasn’t considered copyright infringement by whomever owns the rights to Firefly (is it still the evil empire, otherwise known as FOX?). Just read my character comparisons to understand what I mean.


I’m going to break down the Avalon-Firefly conversions here…

First off there’s Jeth who’s real name is Jethro, which is such a disappointment because somehow just Jeth sounded cooler. He is obviously supposed to be Avalon’s Malcolm Reynolds in both personality and leadership. That was a big “duh!” that I was expecting so it didn’t phase me too much.

Then there’s Lizzie, Jeth’s younger sister, who figuratively carried around a huge neon sign flashing the name Kaylee when she wasn’t hacking computers like I’d expect Wash to do. Not only is she such a bleeding heart optimist that you want to shake her but also her relationship to Jeth is straight from Firefly. Throughout the series, Mal treats Kaylee as a sister and even refers to her as “Xiao Mei Mei” or “Little Younger Sister”.

Milton, the uncle to Jeth and Lizzie, is the pair to Simon because he’s the ship’s doctor but actually served no other purpose as a meaningful character. Plus it’s just weird that this forty-something year-old alcoholic guy is galavanting through space with a bunch of teenagers.

Shady is mentioned as being obsessed with his guns, knives, and explosives so it’s a clear parallel to Jayne as the crew’s muscle. Flynn resembles both Kaylee as the mechanic but his personality comes off more like Wash, cracking jokes and trying to keep things light. Celeste is Inara in appearance but definitely steps into Zoe’s shoes as the second-in-command, doesn’t-take-shit-from-anybody strong female character. Overall the secondary crew members were unmemorable and I had trouble remembering their names.

Now on to the stowaways. Sierra instantly jumped off the page as the true Inara. Her weird interactions with Jeth only made for an unbelievable love interest and her secret agent backstory screamed Shepard Book. Vince just never solidified as an actual person for me so I didn’t bother trying to cast him as any Firefly characters. And then Cora. Oh Cora. From the second she became a presence on Avalon, I knew she was going to be River, the crazy experiment.


There are even lines taken from the Firefly script. While not verbatim, it’s pretty damn close.

Avalon Quote:

“Just thought you should know,” she said, winking. “Can I tell them to piss off?”
“Oh sure,” Jeth said, not nearly as amused by the situation as she was. “Just be polite about it.”
Lizzie grinned and said into the comm, “This is the Montrose. The captain says piss off. Politely.”

Firefly dialogue from “Serenity” episode:

Zoë: Now we have a boat full of citizens right on top of our… stolen cargo. That’s a fun mix.
Mal: Ain’t no way in the ‘verse they could find that compartment, even if even if they were looking for it.
Zoë: Why not?
Mal: ‘Cause.
Zoë: Oh, yeah. This is gonna go great.
Mal: If anyone gets nosy, you know, just… shoot ’em.
Zoë: Shoot ’em?
Mal: Politely.

And then there’s this Avalon Quote:

“All right. Fifteen percent and it’s a deal.” Fifteen percent of a whole bunch would still be a whole bunch.

Firefly dialogue, also from “Serenity”:

Mal: Can’t get paid if you’re dead.
Jayne: Can’t get paid if you crawl away like a bitty little bug neither. I got a share of this job. Ten percent of nothin’ is, let me do the math here… nothin’ and a nothin’, carry the nothin’…

And those are just the ones I managed to catch while reading.

//Final Thoughts//

You’re better off using the time you would have spent reading Avalon to watch the only season of Firefly.


2 Teacups


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