***Disclaimer- I received a copy of this book in exchange for a review.***
Synopsis: Jebediah has a secret that will change his world forever and send his people into space.
The Amish world of Alabaster calls upon an ancient promise to escape destruction. Then end up on a cargo ship bound for the stars. But they are not the only cargo on board. Some of it is alive...or used to be.
Now, with vampires taking over and closing in on the Amish refugees, these simple believers must decide whether their faith depends upon their honored traditions or something even older.
Despite the title, this is a serious sci-fi/horror story aimed at middle grade/YA readers. The story is slow to build, alternating POVs between the Amish and the crew of a cargo ship and exploring the personalities and cultures of both, setting up their inevitable clash even in the face of impending doom. Intentionally or not, Kerry Neitz works in a few pointed characterizations about the Amish way of life- such as while refusing to resort to violence themselves, the idea of others taking lives in their defense (while not exactly approved of) is met with little to no resistance. There's also lots of juxtaposition regarding the unwavering rule of law (Guild bureaucracy and the Amish Ordnung code) vs common sense and doing what's right.
The plot reminded me of the movie, Lonestar- multilayered and nuanced, but tying everything up at the end. The setting is straight out of ALIENS: everyone's trapped on board with beasties of highly questionable origins and heading towards an unsuspecting settlement. The pseudo-science also works; you can tell that Neitz did his research to set things up to go with some interesting characters, only dragged down by the pot-boiler plot/sub-plot setups. Could also use a little more editing to tighten up some clunky sentences, but once things get going, you'll be used to it.
AViS is a solid read with a surprising amout of subtext to it. Not bad, not bad at all. Check it out.