Review Detail

4.1 4
Young Adult Fiction 598
Overall rating
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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.

Final Verdict:

Unique, compelling, and disturbing, ARCLIGHT is a must read for fans of post-apocalyptic stories.
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