Avalon

Finished Avalon by Mindee Arnett.  I received a copy from the publisher on Edelweiss.

Summary (from Goodreads):

A ragtag group of teenage mercenaries who crew the spaceship Avalon stumble upon a conspiracy that could threaten the entire galaxy in this fascinating and fast-paced sci-fi adventure from author Mindee Arnett.

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.”

I love everything about this book.  I will admit that it had me going in, thanks to the comparison to Firefly.  (Which, incidentally, is so deserved—I love Jeth and his little band of thieves and con men; I am a huge sucker for antiheroes, although really, there is nothing “anti” about them.)

But this story does have a definite villain, and he is a creepy, creepy person.  Hammer is Jeth’s employer and he has two types of grownup henchmen: those who are there willingly and those who have no choice.  Both have implants in their brain and the implication is that you could lose your ability to think for yourself at any time.  (Jeth doesn’t have an implant—and neither do the others in his crew—because they’re under 18.)

This book is amazingly fun and creepy in equal measure.

I can’t wait to see where the series goes from here; I hope the second installment is out in a timely fashion.

Highly recommended.

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