09 May 2013

{Book Review} Arclight

Arclight #1
Josin L. McQuein
Release Date:
April 23, 2013
Greenwillow Books
4.5 Birds

No one crosses the wall of light . . . except for one girl who doesn’t remember who she is, where she came from, or how she survived. A harrowing, powerful debut thriller about finding yourself and protecting your future—no matter how short and uncertain it may be.
The Arclight is the last defense. The Fade can’t get in. Outside the Arclight’s border of high-powered beams is the Dark. And between the Light and the Dark is the Grey, a narrow, barren no-man’s-land. That’s where the rescue team finds Marina, a lone teenage girl with no memory of the horrors she faced or the family she lost. Marina is the only person who has ever survived an encounter with the Fade. She’s the first hope humanity has had in generations, but she could also be the catalyst for their final destruction. Because the Fade will stop at nothing to get her back. Marina knows it. Tobin, who’s determined to take his revenge on the Fade, knows it. Anne-Marie, who just wishes it were all over, knows it.
When one of the Fade infiltrates the Arclight and Marina recognizes it, she will begin to unlock secrets she didn’t even know she had. Who will Marina become? Who can she never be again?

The dystopia world of ARCLIGHT is one after my own heart, which may be weird to say with all of the fear and tension. But guys, seriously, this world deals with A LOT of themes that already preoccupy my mind. And as much as I want to tell you all of them, I will restrain myself and only give you the spoiler-free ones, because I really really do not want to ruin these twists for you.

The main setting and the overall dystopian situation in ARCLIGHT stems from a fear of the unknown in the dark. It’s a basic human fear explored in more stories than I could possibly count, but McQuein makes it fresh. The opening action scene makes this fear heart-racingly apparent, but it becomes an undercurrent to the characters and their actions, rather than the main focus.

Another theme McQuein plays with, which I also OBSESS over, is perception. Marina has no memory; most of her perceptions are straight up created by the people around her. We all have a degree of this from parents, schools, media, etc., but we have our own experiences to fall back on—Marina doesn’t. So what’s true and what’s manipulation? With one twist that caught me off guard, and one that was a bit more predictable, we learn a lot about Marina, the humans in the Arclight, and the Fade that live in the dark ruins of the world as we know it.

The only disappointment I had with ARCLIGHT was with some of the characters. Marina starts out very smart and inquisitive, albeit a terrified loner with an injury that makes it nearly impossible to escape any attacker. Once she makes a strong connection with the other characters, her intelligence seems to dim a bit. She still asks questions and snoops, but there was a point where a fact was staring her down and she did not see it—those couple pages drove me crazy! And then there’s Tobin. He has a bit of personality, but overall it just seems he’s a product of circumstances affecting him and the other characters. Despite this, I still liked him; I just wanted to see more of him. While some of the human characters could have been developed more, the Fade were excellent! Each Fade character encountered had at least one layer beneath the surface that gave them amazing depth.

I am super stoked for the sequel, MERIDIAN! Hopefully the wait will be short! If you’re a fan of YA sci-fi dystopias, I highly recommend this one.




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