Avalon by Mindee Arnett, Balzer + Bray, 2014. 415 pages.
Reading Level: Young Adults, (ages 12-14) and up
Maturity Level: 6 (ages 15-18) and up
Readers meet Jethro Seagrave and his band of Malleus Shades in the middle of stealing a spaceship. Jeth and his friends live in a futuristic world of planets and spaceports, most of which are overseen by the all-powerful ITA, Interstellar Transport Authority. Between Jethro’s exuberant younger sister—and computer genius—Lizzie and a group of talented teens, the Malleus Shades have gained quite a reputation.
When Jeth is offered a deal by an ITA agent, he realizes that his crew’s next mission will be their most hazardous and dangerous. Still, if completed, it might bring Jeth and his friends freedom from crime lord Hammer Dafoe. Jeth and his crew are to enter the Belgrave, space’s equivalent of the Bermuda Triangle, and retrieve a lost spaceship that is carrying a valuable cargo. The only stipulation: they are not to board the spaceship. Soon the mission becomes more complicated when Jeth and his crew come upon two other teens and a little girl, all on the run from the ITA.
Jeth is a leader, driven and motivated by love for his family and his crew. While he maintains a strong front, he struggles with grief over the loss of his parents and the desire to do the right thing while protecting his crew. Avalon is similar to Andrew Klavan’s Mindwar in its ability to examine deeper moral issues, but it includes enough violence, sensuality, scary images, and language to make it inappropriate for younger readers. Given these precautions, teen lovers of sci-fiction should enjoy this adventure. Avalon is filled with action, suspense, double-crossing and triple-crossing, not to a mention a dash of romance. While part of a series, the book concludes well and stands on its own as an enjoyable adventure for a winter evening of reading.
Cautions: Language (recurring, but no profanity), Visually Problematic (grotesque spaceship damage), Sensuality (girls distract guards)
Overall Value: 3.5 (out of 5)
- Moral/worldview value: 3.5
- Artistic value: 3.5
Categories: YA, Science Fiction, Adventure/Thriller, Boys
Cover image from Amazon