Author: Josin L. McQuein
Series: Arclight, #1
Release date: April 23rd 2013
Publisher: Greenwillow Books
Hardcover, 400 pages
Source: Publisher for review
Buy: The Book Depository
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?
As someone who’s grown tired of the dystopian genre altogether, I’ve become exceedingly difficult to please. So rarely do these stories work for me anymore, it takes a lot to keep me interested, but Josin McQuein succeeded with seeming ease.
By far the best thing about Arclight is its pacing. The plot moves forward unrelentingly, mercilessly, giving the reader no time to breathe. The story is full of excitement, with strong elements of horror to ensure the reader’s interest throughout. The sweet and unusual romance serves to soften the rough edges, but it never becomes dominant and overwhelming, which I appreciated greatly.
Unfortunately, the rapid pacing leaves very little time for the reader to bond with the characters. While I liked Marina and appreciated the fact that she was no delicate flower, a lack of emotional connection was notable. It was, in part, due to her personality: she was meant to be a bit detached and strange. Her connection with Tobin, odd as it was, made me understand her better and appreciate her more.
But emotion-wise, the real protagonist of this book is Tobin himself. Out of all the characters, he is the one with enough emotional complexity to keep me glued to the pages. He often did things without really knowing why he was doing them, which was understandable given his age the circumstances, and it was always interesting to try to figure out his motives.
Among several weaknesses of Arclight, the writing is its Achilles’ heel. Not badly written per se, but poorly structured, the story tended to get extremely confusing, especially in more eventful chapters. Given the rapid pacing, those chapters made the majority of the book. Marina’s communication with the Fade was also messy, partly because it was meant to be, and partly because of the way it was written.
Another thing that deems mentioning is predictability. The twists and turns that were meant to surprise or even shock were painfully evident from the first few chapters, minus the few finer details of the story. It is a shame in what is otherwise a great story, but it’s also something I can live with, if the good outweighs the bad, which it certainly does.
The gorgeous cover, in this case, actually hides a very good story, which is a rarity indeed. If you haven’t yet decided to read Arclight, I hope this review will push you in the right direction. Arclight wraps up nicely, but the world McQuein created is filled with possibilities, which gives me so much hope for Meridian, the sequel scheduled for an April 2014 release.
A copy of this book was kindly provided by the publisher for review purposes. No considerations, monetary or otherwise, have influenced the opinions expressed in this review.