This is Firefly fanfiction under different names.
Boy, they weren't kidding when the summary of the book said it is "a great match for fans of Joss Whedon's cult hit show Firefly." There are a tremendous amount of similarities, for one, the plot: a ragtag crew of mercenaries set out into space on a beloved spaceship, only to rescue some siblings on the run---one of whom has a secret. If you have watched the show, you will be able to make a very exact hypothesis regarding the secret. There will be no surprises, and it will render this book almost obsolete, because Firefly holds so much more complexity and so much more enjoyment than this book. The characters are almost exactly the same, only with different ages and names. The plot is action-packed but long-winded, and bored me more than once. Regardless, it is an entertaining book.
This book was not a pain to read, but it was obstructed in parts by the idiocy of the main character, Jeth. Obviously, I cannot help but draw parallels between Jeth and Firefly's captain, Mal. The one major distinction between Mal and Jethro is that Mal is rational, calm, and is not driven by hormones. Simply put: Mal does not think with his dick, which is something I cannot say about Jethro. And Mal is just fucking awesome, man.
There is a lot of action in the book, regardless, the book felt a lot more boring and slower than it should. That is mainly because a lot of the action in the book felt superfluous and repetitive. It is like watching an action movie, sometimes I just want something besides the explosions, you know?
The Characters: Almost every single character is a direct parallel to Firefly. Here is a list of the characters in the book and their Firefly counterpart.
Jethro = Mal.
The unflinching captain. Desperately loves the ship Avalon. Respectful of his crew. A gentleman. A loyal friend. A good heart. There are a few differences between them, mainly Mal is a man. Jethro is a boy. More specifically, Jeth is a teenaged boy whose hormones have not been conquered. Mal would be considerably more focused on the end goal, without being distracted by a pretty face and insta-love despite knowing better.
Don’t be stupid, the voice of reason broke in. You don’t need that kind of distraction.
No, he didn’t. Girl distractions were the worst kind. Downright dangerous.
And yet he gets distracted anyway. Mal would NEVER get beaten off-track by a beauty, so much that he would irretrievably compromise his mission. Jethro allows a pretty face to affect the way he thinks about his beloved Avalon, his thoughts are altogether too flowery.
She must think Avalon’s a dump. Jeth resisted an insane urge to start defending his ship to this stranger. It wasn’t like him to give a damn about what other people thought, but something about Sierra seemed to challenge this attitude. He decided it was the regal way she carried herself: not stuckup, exactly, but as if she were a princess who’d recently been forced into poverty.
Oh, Jeth, grow the fuck up. Mal would never feel...fuzzy...like a kitten.
To his surprise, her annoyed expression made him want to laugh. It reminded him a bit of Viggo when Jeth had accidentally stepped on the cat’s tail—pissed off but incredibly cute in a fearsome, fuzzy sort of way.
Celeste = Zoe
Beautiful. Cunning. Straightforward. She will kick your ass. I absolutely loved Celeste, and I honestly think she would have been the better love interest in this book.
"She got so mad when I caught her in the act, she punched me in the face. That’s Celeste.” You had to respect a girl who could hit like that.
Lizzie = Kaylee
The youngest of the crew. A brilliant technical whiz with a sky-high IQ, but so young, immature, and blunt. Despite her technical brilliance, she speaks roughly, unrefinedly.
Lizzie laughed. “Now you’re being retarded. That stuff don’t exist.”
“Doesn’t exist,” Jeth said.
Jeth clenched his jaw. Lizzie hadn’t seen the inside of a classroom since Hammer recruited her for the gang, and it bothered him when she spoke improperly. Someone so smart shouldn’t sound so ignorant.
She has a soft spot for young children, kittens. She is permanently clumsy.
There was a loud bang, followed by the sound of Lizzie groaning. She scooted out from underneath the station and scowled up at him, one hand rubbing her forehead. “Crap, Jeth. You made me jump and hit my head.”
Flynn = Wash
The brilliant engineer and mechanic. A bottomless pit with a rather unfortunate sense of humor.
“Crap oh crap oh crap,” said Flynn as he crawled out from underneath the nav station. “We are so screwed. I mean, screwed-screwed. Like, get-into-the-lifeboats-’cause-this-ship-is-going-down-screwed.”
Shady = Jayne
The brawn of the group. The thug. The juvie. The shoot-first-ask-questions-later guy.
Of all the crew, Shady was the only one who’d done time in a juvenile detention center.
"He’s good with firearms and explosives. That, and he’s brave enough to do anything, no matter how stupid.”
As for the rest of the characters, I could make comparisons, but I don't want to spoil you guys. Not that there's much spoiling, if you've watched Firefly.
The Summary: In the future, Jethro (Jeth) is the unofficial leader of a teenaged mercenary crew, thieves known as the Malleus Shades. They work for an intergalactic crime boss, and career politician (one and the same, some things never change ;) Hammer Dafoe. Jeth is an orphan, he only has an uncle and a younger sister. His parents were brilliant scientists who were mysteriously branded as treasons by the Intergalactic Travel Authority (ITA). The reasons for their execution remains unknown. Their case is sealed.
Jeth's only goal in life is to take care of his sister and his crew, and to win back his parents' ship, the Avalon
They are on a mission to steal a ship, it is business as usual until they run into a mysterious man, Marcus Renford, who offers them a job. He wants them to go into the wild unknowns of the Belgrave Quadrangle and steal a ship.
By the skin of their teeth, they escape Renford, only to return to their boss who coincidentally offers them the same job. Go into Belgrave Quadrangle and bring back the ship Donerail. They are not to board the ship. They are only to tow it back. It is a dangerous mission. In exchange, Hammer will return
The Belgrave Quadrangle is the intergalactic version of the Bermuda Square.
It was known across the galaxy as the Devil’s Boneyard. Lots of ships had disappeared inside of it, never to be seen again. Equipment tended to malfunction within its borders, particularly navigational systems. The ITA had declared it completely off limits; even flying through it was illegal. Some people said the place was haunted or cursed.
Jeth's crew is reluctant, but their individual salary is too high for them to resist. They travel into the Belgrave Quadrangle, they find the Donerail there, but something is wrong. The ship is a wreck.
A large hole marred the ship’s lower bow. It wasn’t the kind of hole you’d expect on a ship that’s been in a firefight or suffered a collision. It wasn’t a ragged, chaotic shape but perfectly symmetrical, like it had been carved with a giant hole punch. The sight of it sent ripples of dread skidding over Jeth’s skin. What had made it?
It is a floating coffin.
The head, arms, and legs of a man still lay on what remained of the bed, but the torso was missing, cut away from the body with the same precision as the rest of the hole. No blood stained the mattress, as if whatever had done the cutting had cauterized the wounds as it sliced through.
But not everyone on board is dead. There are survivors, siblings. A young man, a beautiful girl, a little girl. They hold secrets that a number of powerful people would kill to have. The siblings will endanger Jeth and his crew's life.
The Setting: Vague, but it works. I wish there were some background like in Firefly, because there really was not much history of HOW this current world came to be. I don't know how we ended up in space. I don't know how all the planets and intergalactic systems came to be. I'm not quite sure what happened in the time between NOW and THEN. It is very, very vague, but it does the job of not shooting itself in the foot with inconsistencies.
Overall: Fun, but I'd rather rewatch Firefly.