Jean, 39, lover of sci-fi, horror and fantasy, reader of comic books, conqueror of genre fiction.
This one was a surprise for me. I'd seen a lot of mediocre reviews, that strangely vehemently compared it to Joss Whedon's Firefly, but then complained that it was, inf act, not enough like Firefly. I saw a definite influence, but I saw the influence of many more modern sci-fi franchises as well, such as video games like Mass Effect, and movie series like the Alien franchise. But it wasn't a pastiche. It took conventions I'd seen before and spun them into something new and exciting.
It's one of the few books I've read that steadily grew and grew in my estimation. I was set on a solid three-stars for about the first hundred pages, and then things got interesting, with its survival space horror vibe. It hiked up to five stars in the last hundred or so pages, with revelations I genuinely did not see coming. (And I had tried to guess!)
It was a bit of a rough start. Though I liked that it was so action oriented (hey, even a girlie-girl like me likes to take a break from the obligatory romance-drive YA) it felt like it didn't give the characters time to develop or really to grow a personality. It's once they leave on the Avalon, hero Jeth's private spacecraft, which now belongs to his boss (a big wig space crime crime lord!) and which he hopes to earn the money to buy back. Here I really felt the influence of movies like Alien and Event Horizon. The atmosphere was genuinely creepy, and there are some delightfully gory images here, as well.
The latter half of the book introduces the concept of aliens, and explains what this universe's version of hyperspace--meta-space--actually is. That's where it really won me over.
I will say, it's always upsetting to me what can and can't be shown in YA, or what the perception is. There's violence in this book. The lost spaceship the gang finds is filled with strangely eviscerated bodies. Jeth is ruthlessly tortured. But there's only the slightest hint of sex, and the vaguest nudge at the idea that he might be getting an erection while kissing a girl. I found this same inconsistency in Jonathan Maberry's Rot&Ruin series, too. Sex is something teenagers deal with; the adults who watch over these things need to deal with that very simple fact and stop making it dirty, something to hide, and normalizing violence on top of that.
Stepping back off of my soapbox, thank you.
An excellent, solid read. YA science-fiction that actually makes sense, that seems to be thought out and developed to its full potential. Give me more like these!