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 (Arclight #1)Featured
What I Loved:
The premise for ARCLIGHT is a combination of dystopian and sci fi with an element of horror. The writing, the setting, and the plot combine to create a tense, atmospheric narrative that constantly makes the reader feel off-balance. Readers never have all the facts, never really understand all the elements at play, and often feel as if up is down and right is wrong. In fact, the most brilliant aspect of ARCLIGHT is its exploration of the themes of right and wrong, ends justifying means, and prejudice. There is a rich thematic depth to be mined within this story.
The character of Marina is immediately interesting and engaging. While her narrative at times becomes bogged down in long periods of expository self-reflection, as a whole, she's a heroine the reader feels connected to. Her character growth is notable, as she begins the novel at the mercy of everyone around her and slowly emerges into the person whose choices drive the conflict and the resolution of the story. Her journey from the darkness of oppression (lack of information, lies, fear of what lies outside the Arclight and what lies buried in her own mind) to the light of understanding is well done, especially when understanding brings its own set of nearly insurmountable problems.
What Left Me Wanting More:
As much as I loved the premise and found the setting (both in the underground bunker and in the Dark) fascinating, there were so many pieces of the world that remained confusing or vague that I often felt a bit lost. It took several encounters with the Fade for me to have any sort of understanding of how to see them in my head, and I never really understood the Dark, though I did grasp the basis of what happened to cause the world to become what it is in ARCLIGHT. Readers who enjoy post-apocalyptic literature and who are able to suspend disbelief for long periods of time while waiting for their answers will be rewarded by the end when the different elements of the premise and the setting become clear. I will say that my teenage son read this book before me and absolutely loved every single bit of it, so mileage may vary on all of this.
Unique, compelling, and disturbing, ARCLIGHT is a must read for fans of post-apocalyptic stories.
Unique Dystopian Debut
Arclight is the story of Marina, a girl who is rescued from The Dark. Yes, with the capital D. The Dark is the post-apocalyptic danger-land outside of the Arc, which is a haven perpetually lit by the brightest lights known to man. The lights are needed to protect the settlement from the Fade: creepy-scary-shape-changing monsters that break in and steal the Arclight's people, then turn them into more Fade's. There's nothing worse than your people being turned into the very monsters you might one day kill - or be killed by.
Marina is treated as an outcast, and she feels like one-she has no memory of who she was before she was rescued, if her family is alive or dead, if they even loved her, and no one is revealing any secrets to her. When she helps to capture a rogue Fade Marina inadvertently starts a chain of events that will lead to her following that Fade into the Dark to discover secrets about her life, her friends, and the Arclight that she never thought possible.
Arclight is an exciting story, with twists and turns through the Dark and the Arc, leading you to surprises about the dystopian world, its characters, and its future that. . .you really might figure out before the end. Okay, it is a little predictable, but in a way it is really reassuring, because if I know who the girl is going to end up with and that she's going to want to save the world I won't be disappointed at the end, and I know there will be a sequel. Marina comes off as a bit whiny, but I suspect teens won't notice because she might sound like them - doubtful, worried, anxious. Overall it was a great book and I'm looking forward to the sequel!
A Solid Dystopian Debut
McQuein is making her debut with a vengeance in 2013, publishing both her first and second novels a couple of months apart from different imprints. Perhaps even more impressive, they're both standalones in different genres (Arclight is dystopian and Premeditated is a contemporary thriller). All of the reviews I've seen for Arclight thus far have been highly positive. Based on Arclight, we can expect good things from McQuein.
Arclight has solid writing and plenty of action to keep the reader entertained. The future herein depicted is suitably creepy and the attack of the compound in the first chapter is a perfect hook to bring the reader into the story. It had a very Jurassic Park feel; that moment when the velociraptors are testing the fences. Very scary!
Marina is interesting, not utterly dependent or physically powerful. She has intelligence and determination on her side, but doesn't fit the heroine stereotypes which is great. What McQuein handles very well is Marina's emotional arc. I can't go into details on that, but I love her development throughout the book and her struggles to figure out her past.
Though their connection seems to come on a bit fast, I did like Tobin as a character and they are cute together. What I would have liked to see more of is Marina's connection with her supposed best friend Anne-Marie, who both she and Tobin mostly seem annoyed by. The characters are likable, but lacked the depth to really make me care about them.
Arclight joins the small list of books with love triangles that don't make me want to hurl things at the wall. Marina's two options both make a different kind of sense for her, and there's a real reason for deciding to be somewhat difficult. Both guys are nice, if a bit too much in the protective and obsessive vein to be my cup of joe (see what I did there?). In both cases, I would have liked to see a bit more of the development of the romances, but what's there suffices. The resolution of the love triangle I'm of two minds about. I'm glad Marina was decisive, but I don't necessarily approve of her choice.
The biggest element that kept me from connecting with Arclight or from being sucked into the action was its predictability. Now, I actually watched a couple of my blogger friends tweeting today about how they had no idea what was going on, so this might just be me and the fact that I've read over a hundred dystopias. To me, the plot twist was incredibly obvious from very early on in the book, so all of that build up and tension did nothing for me, when I should have been on tenterhooks.
Similarly, the world building is a variation on a theme. Science went too far and resulted in these creatures, the Fade, and now a small group of humanity is trying to survive within walls. However, the protections seem to be failing, and humanity might be doomed. The people in the Arclight don't even know if there are any other human communities left. All of this is pretty par for the course. I will say, though, that I did really like finding out what the Fade actually are.
The Final Verdict:
Josin L. McQuein's debut will surely be a hit with teen and adult audiences, particularly those with less of a background in dystopian fiction. There's action, romance, and thought-provoking ethical questions.
Original Dystopian novel
Where to start with Arclight?
I fell immediately in love with the story, the characters, the plot, the setting. The only flaw was the love story, it was too predictable and obvious for my liking. Though to give credit where it's due the love story didn't impede on the pace of the story, my love of the characters themselves or the way the story read.
McQuein has a lyrical gripping way with words that sucks you into the story and make it very hard to leave the story even for a little break. Her whole plot is unique and original from the setting to the characters within the story; you won't find yourself comparing the leading girls or the 'villains'.
Arclight explored many themes but the one that stood out for me, maybe because it was the most prominent and obvious, was light vs dark, good vs bad. Arclight really explored what happens when people don't question what they have been told, when they assume that the bad is really 'bad', it told the typical story of the bad really being the good, or at least less corrupt, than the good had become. Confusing I know, but I can't think I can put it any better! It also explored the issue of identity, which centred around the main character Marina, who through a series of circumstances (which I can't disclose as it would spoil it for you) has to question who she is, and whether she should really be that person. For me Marina as a character came to the wrong decision and I think McQuein could have done a lot more with the situation she created, and it felt like she chose the easy way out, and the way that would make it easier for her to write the second novel, I.E. from a human point of view rather than a Fade.
'I take his face in both my hands, testing the temperature of his skin, the way it feels under my fingertips to see if there's any movement besides his pulse - anything to prove this is Tobin, and not some Fade-riddled imposter.'
Arclight is based in a post-apocalyptic world after a terrifying race of monsters called the Fade have taken over the world. The Arclight is the last refuge for the human survivors, but only as long as they remain in the light. The connotation of the pure human with the light and the 'evil' contaminated Fade with the Dark lended the novel a sense of thrill and danger, as I don't know about you but I'm always a little afraid of the Dark and the monsters hiding in the shadows. McQuein cleverly used the setting to instill the senses of right and wrong, good and bad, and also when the perception of the Fade began to change McQuein managed to make the oppressive Dark a thing of beauty, no mean feat!
The characters are all brilliant to follow, I felt like McQuein played on the fact they were only young and teenagers well throughout the novel as it always infuriates me when the leads are ridiculously self assured, brave and omniscient despite the fact they are in impossible situations. Basically McQuein made them easy to relate to and believe in. The main characters are the confused loner Marina, the only girl to appear alive from the Dark, Tobin, the angry messed up fiercely protective kid, Anne-Marie the only human willing to give the 'freak' Marina a chance and a hand of friendship, and Rue the misunderstood boy from the wrong side of the Light. Together these guys form a gang that we follow through the novel, though Rue is a slight exception, and I look forward to seeing them again in the next installment of Arclight.
Arclight is a good chance to indulge yourself in a more than decent dystopian post-apocalyptic novel of a ..... wait for it..... DECENT LENGTH!!! No stupidly quick ends from this one! And is well worth the trouble. Amazon.co.uk offer it for the bargain price of £5.57 or the amazingly cheap price of £3.84 on the Kindle. It's published by Egmont and please read the guest post by Josin L. McQuein on this blog as well as it gives you a little taster of what Arclight can offer: http://justthisteenager.blogspot.co.uk/2013/08/blog-tour-josin-l-mcquein.html It earns a 5 star and would have been more if not for the slightly unexciting, too predictable, love story. (Although it had its fair share of twists and turns I knew who Marina would choose halfway through the book - however do not let that detract you from Arclight!)
Reallly Enjoyed This One!
Arclight is a story of a world where light is coveted and darkness is dangerous. In the first pages, we meet Marina and her classmates in a middle of a lesson. However, what starts out as any other night quickly takes a turn for the worst. The Fade have invaded the sanctuary that human society has built, and Marina seems to be right in the middle of it. Marina must figure out the secrets behind the teachings she grew up with and discover for herself what the Fade is all about.
Guys, I seriously enjoyed this book. Honestly, going into it I wasn't sure how I would feel about it. But once I started reading, I couldn't stop. Marina is an interesting character. She has a lot to deal with and I think she deals with it pretty well. The circumstances that surround this girl are less then pleasant, yet she continues to fight for the truth. The fact that she seems to be the only person to ever survive the Fade puts her into an uncomfortable position. The others don't exactly accept her, and that includes Tobin.
In the beginning, Tobin seems to dislike Marina quite a bit. That's what Marina tells us. And he does have a good reason for it being so. However, everything changes when the Fade invade. Tobin and Marina start off on rocky ground, but I really enjoyed watching their relationship develop. I love the romantic side to Tobin, the little things he does to bring a smile to Marina's face when everything seems to be going sour. I liked this kid a lot, people. A lot.
Overall, this book is one thrill ride. Once you get into the story, it doesn't want to let you out. Sure, I saw the "surprise" developments coming before the characters did, but it didn't really take away from the story. I enjoyed getting to know these characters and the world they live in.
A Wonderful Start to a Fresh Dystopian Series
Arclight has to be one of my most anticipated books of 2013 and I was not disappointed. Despite the fairly predictable plot twist, Arclight does offer strong writing and imaginative creatures: The Fade. Which basically means this review will be a lovefest of all things Fade.
The strongest point in Arclight is without a doubt Josin's writing style and her beautiful descriptions. Every scene was so visual in my head and this was so important because by only reading the blurb, it's hard to understand what the book is really about. The world is so different and it's covered in darkness. Josin slowly reveals to the reader how things came about while still maintaining some sort of ambiguity. I really think that is where a lot of dystopian novels fail to grab me. Some don't seem to let the reader know anything about their world. It's just usually a "My world is terrible, people die. Deal with it." kind of thing. But not in Arclight. The reader finds out more as Marina does and that part was not predictable.
You may have heard that there is a love triangle and that is true, but it's not a bad one. There are two guys who are vying for Marina's affection, Tobin who I wasn't really sold on and the other is... "Honey Bunches". (That is what I will call him because he was filled to the brim with sweetness!) Both guys do have their faults. Tobin carries a chip about on his shoulder and blames Marina for something that happened in the past. And on the other hand, "Honey Bunches" is the jealous type, but I honestly can't blame him for his anger (you'll have to read the book to see what I mean).
And then you have the Fade themselves which was nothing short of brilliant. I absolutely love them and it's what really sold me on this novel. They are so different and fascinating. I especially love the way they communicated and their ability to say so little, but their words packed so much punch. It was the way they viewed the world and each other and the way their names transcended human language that made me truly believe Josin did an AMAZING job developing them.
Now that isn't to say that Arclight was perfect. It's one of those books that dives into the whole "I'm the new girl in this strange world and I don't know who I am." I really love those books for the mystery and for finding out the story behind the main character's memory loss. The problem is when you already see it coming and that anticipation that should have been building for a good period of the novel is all for nothing. However, even though this was Arclight's biggest problem, it didn't really bother me that much and gave me similar feelings to how I felt about the plot twist in Cinder by Marissa Meyer. By the time the Big Reveal came around, I was already so invested in the story and the characters.
Overall, I really enjoyed this book. Arclight is fresh, unique and engaging. I can't wait to find out more about the characters in the sequel. Would I recommend it to others? Absolutely.
An Unique Debut!
It's extremely hard to review Arclight because it's such a strange novel. I don't want to give anything away but at the same time I want to express how much I enjoyed this book. I apologize if there's an abundance of gushing and fanboying.
Arclight is unlike any book I've ever read. I can't think of one book that I can accurately compare Arclight to. The beginning of Arclight was a bit slow but once you get into the story, it's simply superb. Arclight is a mysterious, eerie book that will give some readers the goosebumps.
I'm still recuperating from the ending of this book. Arclight is filled with tons of surprising plot twists that were really unexpected. I thought I had figured out one of the plot twists but it turns out I had only figured out a small fraction of it. There's really more to Arclight than meets the eye!
The Fade are the most awesome horrifying creatures I've probably ever read about. At first they kind of reminded me of dementors but it turns out they're nothing like them! The Fade terrified me yet I had to keep reading Arclight. The Fade are written in a way that allows you to wrap your mind around them but at the same time you can still picture them in your head. I liked how they were written in such a vague way because it allowed me to visualize them in my own way. There are nothing as terrifying as the Fade in YA, the creatures from Pure come in a close second though.
World building in Arclight leaves much to the imagination which is very fitting because Arclight is a mysterious novel. I loved how the reader learned more and more about the world alongside Marina and by the end I understood the world a lot better. I definitely would love to see more of the dark world of Arclight in book #2.
Arclight is a horrifying vision of a dystopian book and Josin L. McQuein does a superb job of immersing the reader in such a hostile environment. McQuein is a fantastic writer and I'm really look forward to her upcoming novels. Premeditated looks like a book I am going to love so I'm going to try my best to get an ARC.
Keep an eye out for McQuein because I have a feeling she's going to write the next big YA book. Arclight definitely exceeded all of my expectations and I'm eagerly awaiting the sequel. Don't miss out on reading Arclight! Thank you to HarperTeen/Greenwillow Books for providing me with an ARC in exchange for a honest review.
-The plot is engaging, and interesting.
-The ending was superbly executed.