Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Proxy & Avalon - Mindee Arnett (+ Giveaway)

Proxy Mindee Arnett book cover
Proxy by Mindee Arnett
Series: Avalon #0.5
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Publication Date: December 3, 2013
Source/Format: Author (Thanks!) || Kindle e-book
[I received this book for review from the author. This in no way affects the thoughts expressed in my review.]

If you need something stolen from any star system in the Confederation, you need look no further than the Shades. Jeth Seagrave and his band of teenage mercenaries have been making a name for themselves for being able to steal anything—and for disappearing before anyone is the wiser. Their latest job, a jewel heist on Grakkus, should be no different. But when Jeth's boss replaces a key member of his crew just before takeoff, and Jeth discovers a betrayal within his own ranks, he begins to suspect that not everyone is going to be coming back from his job alive. (from Goodreads)

Proxy is a seriously strong novella. As it's set a little before the events of Avalon, it works its magic when it comes to building up my curiosity and investment in the series.

Proxy introduces us to Jeth Seagrave and his legendary teenage crew. It was really cool to get a chance to meet them, assess their skills and get an idea of what they're like. Even though readers don't really get the chance to go in-depth with these individuals, it still gives a great impression of what can be expected.

It's even better that readers get to witness the crew in action, as they're tasked to go on an extremely difficult mission during Proxy. Learning how their missions work, and watching how everyone contributes to its success (even when random shenanigans go down), is really interesting. I was certainly amazed by the sheer level of talent, ingenuity and intelligence demonstrated!

It really excited me to be able to read Proxy before reading Avalon. It was the perfect way to get to know these characters, see them in action and get fully invested. I enjoyed reading about Jeth and his crew, and couldn't wait to dive into Avalon right after.

Avalon Mindee Arnett book cover
Avalon by Mindee Arnett
Series: Avalon #1
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Publication Date: January 21, 2014 (You can grab a copy today!)
Source/Format: Edelweiss (Thank you!) || e-galley
[I received this book for review from the author. This in no way affects the thoughts expressed in my review.]

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. (from Goodreads)

I'm just going to come right out and say it: I liked Avalon. It was not, by any means, the perfect book. But there were things about it that simply worked for me, including the writing and the story. While I certainly don't think everyone will feel the same about it, I can safely say I'm very interested in what happens next for Jeth and his crew.

The writing in Avalon is accessible, easy and reads well, and this in spite of all the science fiction terms tossed into the mix. Though there were times when I would be slightly confused about what things meant or how they worked, it was easy enough to draw on context clues or do a little research to understand what was meant. Once you accept there might be new terminology and keep your mind open for explanations, it's pretty safe to say that you're in the clear when it comes to reading this.

It was, however, the story that really drew me in with Avalon. It's a great blend of action, drama and perhaps just a touch of comedy. There were startling twists, surprising events and moments when it felt like all hope was lost, all working to bring the story together effectively. Once I'd started reading it, I just kept turning the pages because I had to satisfy my curiosity about how Arnett would pull this entire thing off.

[Side note: The romantic feelings caught me off guard when it first made an appearance. Honestly, I was worried that this would change the book's focus entirely. While Arnett was able to soothe my concerns, I do still think that it was surprisingly unnecessary and a touch too quick for my liking.]

But, as I've mentioned, Avalon is not perfect. My biggest reservations lie in its characters. While I get that there are good guys, bad guys and in-between-and-possibly-gray guys, that's as far as the character development went. Sure, each character who appears for a significant amount of time gets handed a quality that makes them unique. But that's all they're known for, which relegates them to being cardboard cutouts. This lack of unique characterization is a shame, as I wanted to get to know everyone a little bit better after reading Proxy. If I had been able to connect better with the characters, I might have enjoyed Avalon even more.

In spite of my lack of feelings for these characters, I still enjoyed Avalon. It's unlike any book I've read before, which is part of the reason I'm fascinated. Arnett spins a strong tale for her series starter, and I'm curious to see how she continues Jeth's (and his crew's) story in the next one.

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Thanks to Suzie of New Leaf Literary & Media for allowing me to share a link to this giveaway in honor of Avalon's release! Here's your chance to win a signed copy of Avalon. 

Please note that this giveaway is US/CA ONLY.

3 comments:

  1. I've seen several people remark that this book had flaws, but was overall a fun book to read and a good start to the series, and that definitely peaks my interest a lot. Action, drama and comedy all set in space sounds like a great combo, tho it also seems like some of the sci-fi elements didn't fully for for you, or were confusing at least. I've come to prefer less romance at the beginning of series so that it has time to grow, so I'm glad that it doesn't overtake this plot (though it sounds like it maybe wasn't needed at all). I still think I'll hold off on this until the next one releases to read them in a chunk, but after seeing so many positive reviews it's now on my radar where it wasn't really before.

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  2. I really liked this one too! I do agree about the romance being unnecessary though. It felt forced. I can't wait to see where the crew will go next!

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