Review: Arclight by Josin L. McQuein

Author: Josin L. McQuein
Series: Arclight #1
Genre: Science Fiction, Young Adult
Publisher: Greenwillow Books
Publication Date: April 23, 2013


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?

Arclight is a book that I'd been wanting to read for awhile but for whatever reason had put off doing so until now. On reflection after finishing the book I was happy I waited. Arclight was a solidly written story and I did like the twists and turns of the plot. However, I can't say that it was as good as I hoped or even that it's conclusion wasn't predictable and here's why:

First off, I think right out of the gates Marina was an issue. Yes, she's finding her identity the entire book and that certainly would compromise certain parts of her personality but I just can't get past the fact she so willingly follows the hive mind of the Arclight (light good, Fade evil) and yet in the same breath thinks the hive mind of the Fade is something to feared and shunned. Maybe if she grew up behind the wall I'd understand her position but she's only in the Arclight at most a few months according to the time line. I don't know how to explain it beside it just bothered me and made me dislike Marina. Mainly I just wished she'd questioned her surroundings more but due to her stubbornly refusing to I was forced to read pages and pages of indecision on her part which translated into the less enjoyability for me as a whole.

Secondly, I think the book needed a good trimming down. Not just a couple of pages either but whole chapters needed shrinking. While the book and story were good it is a lot of little things that just made it drag on endlessly thus again ruining the enjoyability for me. For example, the book started off so exciting and action packed but quickly petered out once the threat had been contained. Instead of focusing on the Fade threat, were given chapters building up the romance between Tobias and Marina. Instead of Marina questioning her memories and doing everything possible to fix them she blindly follows the orders of those around her until she physically and emotionally can't anymore. This wouldn't be such a problem if it didn't take until nearly the 80% mark for her to finally see reason. 

My main issue however was the fact that the romance between Marina and Tobias felt very forced and predictable. This only becomes more glaringly obvious as the book progresses and we understand that maybe she isn't meant to be with him in the first place. Arclight doesn't have a long triangle per say but it does leave plenty of room open for one. I guess, I just would've rather the characters been attracted to one another but never acted on those impulses in light of what I knew once finishing. If they were meant to be together further down the road then fine I could accept that but as of this point Marina seems like she's settling because he's safe and more compatible physically and I just don't think that's fair to Tobias or Rue as characters.

Now despite my issues mentioned above I actually liked quite a lot about Arclight which is why I kept reading the story even when things annoyed me.

First, I loved the Fade. Based on the description I was really expecting them to be vampires or some other form of demon spawn but was pleasantly surprised by the twist in the story explaining what they actually were. I can't really describe them without ruining the plot but think The Matrix meets Avatar and that will give you sort of a hint as to what they are.

Secondly, I really liked that the characters (minus Marina who still seems stuck) came to accept change so readily. It's nice knowing that they can and will be able to move on from being so scared all the time now that things have changed for the better. How this will translate into a sequel though I'm not so sure. Thankfully I have a copy of that story waiting to go so I'll be able to find out shortly.

Lastly, I really liked the world building. Yes, things might have been a bit long winded but it was nonetheless informative and we did at the very least get to learn plenty about the world in the before as we did in the after.

Final Thoughts
Even though Arclight might not have been a perfect read I can't deny that I enjoyed Arclight despite all my issues to the contrary. The Author is if anything a talented writer and the fact she breathed life into a creation like the Fade is a credit to that. I definitely will be reading the sequel and I would certainly recommend reading Arclight if you haven't already.

With that being said, I'll be rating Arclight by Josin L. McQuein ★★★★. 
 *Copy reviewed purchased.  All opinions are my own and I was not compensated in any which way  for providing them. .


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