by Nicole Stark
YA Science Fiction/Dystopian
At first, HOPE (Humanity's One Plan for Escape) habitat appears to be a well-oiled machine, preparing 5,000 carefully chosen inhabitants for a new Earth. However, a medical assistant named Ilium reveals that certain members of the habitat have been falling ill from a mysterious virus they were inoculated against. Soon, the tranquil illusion of HOPE habitat is shattered as Avalon plays a perplexing message left by her father. If Avalon is to survive this dangerous new environment , she will have to find the strength to navigate a habitat enveloped in secrets.
This story starts with a wonderful set-up, drawing into an intriguing world. Teenage Avalon wakes up from Cyrosleep to find herself in a strange environment. The author does a nice job letting the reader slide right in with Avalon as the girl's memories are only so-so. The descriptions as the character learns about her surroundings and situation are not only grabbing, but make it easy to sink right in and see things as Avalon does.
Things don't stay quiet long, however, and the problems with this so-called '2nd' chance for Earth become apparent very quickly. The pace holds the entire book through, drawing the reader from one situation into the next. Sometimes it went a bit too rapidly, and a little more information or lead-up was missing, but the tension definitely is there.
Avalon is a character with spunk, a warm heart and curiosity. Even during the first pages, she's easy to relate to and cheer for. Her actions were usually understandable. The interaction with the other characters normally flowed very naturally, however there were jolting moments which could have used a little more time to get into.
There are many interesting ideas in this book as well as unexpected twists and turns. It quickly becomes clear that trust is something which has to be earned, and things aren't always as one might expect. It's a plot to dive into and get carried away with. The only thing that makes it a bit difficult to completely be swept away in the story is the editing and several spots in the writing. This book has wonderful potential and has a story I really enjoyed, but the entire thing could have used more read-throughs and polishing.
Still, Avalon and HOPE is a series with a lot of potential and great messages. The world and plot are perfect for science fiction and dystopian fans who like unpredictable situations. I'm looking forward to see what happens next.