20 April 2013

Review: Arclight by Josin L. McQuein

Arclight by Josin L. McQuein

Expected Publication: 23 April 2013 by Greenwillow Books

Pages: 400 (hardcover)

Genre/s: YA, Science Fiction, Dystopia

Source: Publisher for review


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?

My Thoughts

The day before I started Arclight, I'd actually written a post about how I was starting to feel a little disenchanted with the YA Dystopian genre.  It's all gotten a bit same-y and predictable, so my expectations for Arclight weren't that high.

But once I started reading, I was more than a little bit hooked.   Having no memory of how she came to be in the Arclight means that Marina's story is quite fragmented, and I found it a little confusing, but not the 'I want to give up' kind of confused, but rather 'I want to find out more!'.  The pacing is fast and there are a lot of action scenes very close together - there's very little of the characters sitting around ruminating or speculating or having personal disasters - the focus is completely on moving the plot along.

One thing that Arclight definitely has in its favour is the Fade - they are caused by something that I've never come across in a YA book before, and only rarely in adult post-apocalyptic fiction.  Their secrets are revealed quite gradually, rather than in one big info dump which I really liked.

Although the Fade are quite well explained, there is an element missing to the world-building that I thought would have been worth including in the first book (yeah, another series guys!).  The whole focus of the story is on Arclight and the area surrounding it, there's very little on how Arclight came to be, or what the effect was on the world.

I didn't form huge attachments to the characters, although Marina is tough and brave, as she didn't have any memories of her past it made it quite difficult for me to connect with her as the leading character.  Likewise her 'friend' (yep, inverted commas) Tobin was a good character on face-value but I continually had this feeling in the back of my mind that he was more interested in Marina for his own purposes rather than liking her as a person.  There's a whole bunch of other characters too, from the slightly skitzy Anne-Marie through to the matriach who rules over the whole compound, and I enjoyed the variety and individuality of them.

It was only the last third or so when my interest started to wane a little.  Rather than things starting to fall into place, for a while I started to get even more confused than I had been in the beginning, but I plugged on and by the end I was left feeling almost completely fulfilled.

Arclight promises to be the start of an interesting new series, and although I had a few niggles with the first book, I'm definitely going to keep an eye out for the second book, because I have a serious case of the whys and hows!


  1. I have to say, the Dystopia genre was my favorite but lately all the books have become similar.. I feel that authors stopped focusing on the world building even though it is the most important part of the book! I like the whole Fades story and the needing to know more, I love books that are a bit mysterious.

    great review,
    - Juhina @ Maji Bookshelf

  2. I felt much the same. Some of the writing was a little too vague for me and the imagery didn't always work for me. I think I was disappointed with the ending of this one too. I forget why. I've brain dumped already. Anyway, I do think I might read on because the book was original enough to pique my interest.

  3. Trippy cover! I kinda like it but I'm not sure this book is one that I would pick up. I need something with a little more substance.



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