Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Book Review: Arclight by Josin L. McQuein

Release Date: April 23, 2013
(Thank you to ATWT for allowing me to participate on this tour!)
Published by: Greenwillow

Arclight by Josin L. McQuein

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?

Ten likes/dislikes:

1. (+) Marina, the protagonist - I wasn't hugely fond of Marina, but I think that Josin did pretty well with a character who had no past, and I think that Marina could have been annoying given her position but she wasn't. Obviously this is not a huge endorsement of Marina, but I did like her. And that's about it. I can imagine it must be frustrating to not know where you're from or what happened to you; I can imagine she must be strong to have endured all the pain; I can imagine the kind of courage and steadiness it takes to help another person in pain, and to perform something so serious after barely being exposed to it... But even understanding that these scenes were meant to make me really bond with her, Marina was rather distant.
2. (+) World-building - If there's anything that takes the cake, it's the world-building. In some part, it reminded me of Shadow and Bone, with Alina walking into the Shadow Fold. Instead of the Shadow Fold, though, you have the Light, Grey, and Dark. And each section is described beautifully as well as the military-like compound of the Arclight, its history, and the Fade as the Other and as human-like creatures. The Fade have an interesting history of their own, and I particularly thought the foundation for them and their powers was well established. Truly well done here.
3. (+) Romance - I actually also thought this was done really well. There is a love triangle, but it's one of the ones I could accept, because it fits so well with the world. And because these characters are more developed than the rest. It's a slow-burn for each as Marina struggles to understand what's happened to her. And neither romantic interest is perfect, though I think both certainly have their good points. So many nice, sweet moments. This is really vague, I know, but I didn't want to ruin any of it for you!
4. (+/-) Side Characters - Indifferent toward a vast majority of them. Few seemed to be really developed, and some of them, with the climax--well, I didn't understand their reactions at all. Motivations were scattered, not easily decipherable, but personalities were generally established. This could work for some people, but I found myself mostly uncaring, especially in regard to whether people would die.
5. (+/-) Predictability - I don't tend to look for plots to be really, really unpredictable, but I'd heard a lot about this book and its unpredictability, so I was a tad disappointed. If you've read enough dystopian novels, you will know what's going on from the outset... but that doesn't detract from the book's enjoyment, as most books don't truly surprise me, and the details are what really set Arclight apart.
6. (--) Villain - You know, there doesn't also always need to be a villain, but there was one here, and the resolution of the climax just made me feel like there was no danger to begin with. There is the villain tells all type of speech, which I really dislike. And other than that? I honestly don't really know what to expect from the sequel since this felt pretty tidy in addition to the villain being kind of... nonthreatening at the end.
7. (--) Mad Scientist Feel - There is a part of me that wonders whether I would not have noticed this trend if it weren't for my reading Christina's review, but since the book actually mentions the "mad scientist" and one of the characters puts blame there, I think I would have. Arclight doesn't completely have the anti-science message that other books have, but it was enough to make me a bit pissed. Or sad. It could change later, since most of what I'm considering anti-science may, in fact, turn out differently in the sequel, but for now... *sigh*
8. (+) Writing - Beautiful. Her descriptions are very vivid and help with visualizing this futuristic world. I also think it takes a skilled writer to handle a character with no past and still manage to interest me with her.
9. (+) Pacing - Seemed pretty action packed to me; always something going on to keep the pace steady while the plot built till the climax. The ending seemed a tad rushed, but I assume that's because there's a sequel. (Though yay for no cliffhanger!)
10. (+/-) The Cover - I didn't used to like this cover. I don't like this "future-sque" fonts that seem to be chosen for science fiction novels and I don't like the way the light just stops at her chin. It's a weird effect, even if the cover is a good representation of the world itself.

Although not perfect and certainly not fully pro-science, Arclight has fantastic world-building built in with sweet romance and a horde of creatures I would love to read about more.


  1. This review is so thorough, Christina--I agree with just about all the
    points you made. I wasn't really surprised by the plot twist either, and
    I was fine with the main character but didn't really fall in love with
    her. But the writing was so descriptive and unusual that I quite enjoyed
    reading this book, and I'm looking forward to seeing where the story
    goes next!

    Wendy @ The Midnight Garden

  2. This is a wonderful review and I love the way you structured it. I also completely agree with you on almost everything except for one thing. While I did like the writing, I found it a big vague and confusing in spots. I wasn't able to picture the settings as well as I would have liked due to this. But I am a complete visual reader and that is a huge thing for me. Not so much for others. I did like her voice and prose overall though.

  3. Thank you!! I've heard such conflicting reviews about this book but never anything that really spells out its pros and cons. So this review you gave is so amazing--just what I needed to see to understand this book. This review is so thorough but easy to navigate and understand the basic pluses and minuses--great review!!

  4. Thanks, Wendy! And certainly, her writing was beautiful. I want to see where she takes the Fade next as well :)

  5. Thanks, Kara! Ahhh, I am not a hugely visual reader, so I think you are onto something. Perhaps, though, this is something she could improve on in the sequel?

  6. I am really excited for this, and I can't wait to read it. Great review.

    Jenea @ Books Live Forever

  7. Ugh I hate tell all villain speeches! That aside, the world-building in this is phenomenal. Glad you enjoyed it overall, and I love your thoughtful, detailed review! Wonderful job, and thanks for sharing :-)

  8. Lol, I think I'm in the minority of people when I say I dislike the cover.... but I agree with you about good writing, and I sincerely hope that if you try this one out, you enjoy it :)

    [ps - I'm not a huge fan of love triangles either, but I think this one was actually done well.]

  9. Thank you!! Me too. I find that when the characters discover the villain's motivation for themselves, it's much more satisfying... but the world-building here. *dreamy sigh* :)

  10. I inwardly cringed at the mention of a love triangle, but if you say it's one of the ones you could accept, then I think I'll likely be okay with it as well. The world-building sounds AWESOME, after the characters that's my favorite part of any book, so I'm glad it's in the plus column for you. I'm bummed about the villain though, I love to hate a good villain so it's disappointing he gives his tell all speech and doesn't really present much of a threat. Despite that though, I still really want to read this one! Loved this review Christina:)

  11. Haven't finished reading so I lightly--ok, I did a medium skim--skimmed your review cuz u know how I am about spoilers but you know how I can't resist your reviews! lol!

  12. Yay!!! I hope you end up enjoying ARCLIGHT :). Perhaps you won't be disappointed with the villain? And I certainly hope this love triangle also fits within your accepted ones!

  13. lol :) hey, girl! So how are you liking it so far? How far are you?

  14. i love when they have love triangle ... jiji i love your review ,,, because .. you don´t put spoliers like others . and that kill the book jajaja
    i would put in my list of may

  15. An acceptable love triangle? Ok I'm willing to have an open mind. I don't like the villain tells all speeches haha. I also like my side characters well developed. I'm still really wanting to read this.

  16. haha, thank you! I do try not to put spoilers, because i know a lot of people do not like them, and it really isn't fair for them :). I hope you enjoy the book!

  17. hahaha, I don't usually find love triangles very acceptable, but if I have to stomach one, this would be the type I would choose. I hope you enjoy the book when you read it then :)

  18. I was incredibly lucky enough to win a copy of Arclight from the wonderful O'Dell at Book Twirps and I got it in the mail today. The cover on the internet does not do the cover in justice once you see it in person. It is flat out gorgeous, and I can tell you if I had seen it on a shelf it would have come home with me, synopsis unread. Thank you so much for your review. It is incredibly thorough and I love the separate points with the plus or minus symbols. It is disappointing that you were indifferent to the main character, but it seems like it is absolutely worthy of a read. So read it I will. After I drool over the cover for a few more minutes!

  19. Good review. It sucks that the MC seems so distant, but I like the no background, no memories notion. As for the anti-science: hmmmmm. There will have to be a really good reason for me to get behind that. I don't mind the mad-scientist trope, but I do mind the anti-anything-science. Not that I'm pro-science either; just not anti- it :D

    Love triangles. I think it will be interesting to read one where the girl really and truly doesn't know what she wants - since she has no memories and thus no starting point for her feelings.

    I think I'll give this one a read. I love dystopians!

  20. Oh, the cover is certainly much more pretty in person, but I still do think the light is awkward with the girl's face. I hope you enjoy the book :)

  21. It might just be my perspective in regard to the anti-science feel. It seems as if it didn't bother many other readers, so I am curious as to what you'll think about it. And yes. You basically explained the brilliance of this love triangle without having even read the book ;). I hope you enjoy reading it!

  22. I actually liked this cover from the get-go, but I could never decide if I wanted to read the book or not. I think you've convinced me to try it out. I have some reservations about the love triangle and cardboard villain, but I adore books with solid writing and I think good writing can make up for a lot of other flaws. So we'll see!


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