Book Review

Book Review of Arclight by Josin L. McQuein

Arclight book review


*I received an ARC (advanced review copy) of this book in exchange for my honest review.

Arclight really surprised me. At first I thought it was going to be one of those run-of-the-mill regurgitated Y.A. novels with some kind of horror twist, especially after reading the first chapters. It quickly morphed, however, into something more (and better) with a heavy dose of sci-fi that was both intriguing and beautiful.

Marina can't remember most of her life. All she knows is that she was pulled back from the Dark, the land surrounding the safety of the Arclight haven. Light is safety; light is life. A small community of humans clings to a harrowing existence where only light can protect them from the Fade - shadowy creatures living in the darkness. As soon as twilight falls, powerful lights are turned on to protect the community's inhabitants. The Fade won't cross that line of light. It's the only thing that separates them.

Marina was pulled from the darkness, something that's never happened. Her peers don't trust her. Lives were risked and lost, pulling her in to the circle of safety. She's done something no one has done in human memory. Where does she come from? How did she survive out there? Are there others like her? There are only tiny fragments of the past that float tantalizingly to the surface of Marina's mind. When the Fade breach the compound, Marina discovers more about them while finally learning who she is and where she comes from. It's not what any of them thought as secrets come swirling to the forefront and change what everyone thought they knew about the Fade, especially Marina.

I can't share much more about the plot because there are several twists that would be ruined and that's part of the magic of Arclight. It morphs into something really quite interesting (not unlike the Fade themselves) .

I've looked at other reviews of it and Arclight gets a mixed bag. I think one of the reasons is that Arclight is different from most other books in its genre and while it starts out almost like some sort of horror novel, it quickly becomes more complex with a slow but steady pacing that explores the concepts of self-discovery, cover-ups, culture-clash & technology . It's fairly heavy on the sci-fi with a sort of fantasy feel and the dystopian focus is a fairly subtle thread underneath all the other elements. I also think teens were disappointed in the lukewarm triangle love story threaded throughout with what had, for many, an unsatisfying ending (in other words, they didn't approve of the choice that was made). For me, as an adult, I totally got it and wasn't surprised.

There are a few flaws in the novel. Some characters aren't developed as much as they could be and the first part of the book seems like it was torn from a completely different book. However, Arclight was a worthwhile read that, as it unravels, sucks you into a completely different and interesting post-apocalyptic world that is unlike anything I've ever read before.

The BEST part of Arclight was the revelation of who the Fade were. I found it totally fascinating and well worth getting past the rocky start of the novel to get to that part. This is where the sci-fi shines through the dystopian veil and then totally pierces it and takes over. I absolutely LOVED it. Forget all the teen stuff, this is some great sci-fi that is both lovely and haunting. I can't wait for the sequel.

Now, for the MOM part of the review (spoilers!):

Spoilers ahead!!!!!!!!!!!!!!



Arclight, for the most part is fairly tame. There is an understated romance element with one incident of kissing (nothing really spectacular). The ubiquitous "love triangle" exists and once teens find out that Marina is a Fade turned into a human they will probably be puzzled and disgruntled over why she doesn't return to her "first" love who is one of her original kind. There is some implied and minor violence and in the beginning of the book there is a "creepiness" factor when the Fade appear almost as soulless monsters preying on humans (they aren't though and that's revealed later on). I didn't mark any cursing (so there shouldn't be any, unless I overlooked it). There is also a "cruel" adult in the book and there is some torture testing of a Fade. There are lies and cover-ups. Overall though, the novel explores some interesting concepts like not judging things until you know all of the facts, what it means to be human, love, sacrifice and other noble concepts. If you are O.K. with the minor bit of romance, then I'd say it's probably appropriate for ages 13 and up, although it will most likely appeal more to older teens who can appreciate the sci-fi element.

Click her to check out Arclight on Amazon!

*I recieved a free ARC (Advanced Review Copy) in exchange for my honest opinion.

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