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?
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.