Arclight by Josin L. McQuein

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Arclight by Josin McQueinArclight by Josin L. McQuein

Series: Arclight #1

Rating: 3.5 of 5 stars

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?

Someone’s attention shouldn’t have a physical weight, but it does. Hate’s a heavy burden; so is hope.

That’s how Arclight starts off, and it sustains the same half-dreadful, half-hopeful tone throughout. It had all the right ingredients for a five-star read: commendable prose, well-rounded writing, a fleshed-out society, a world built with depth and dimension, characters that were realistic and multifaceted, a chill factor of the Fade — a merit in and of itself, a story to tell — and I mean, a story; damn — as well as some twists and turns and elegance and thrill, even a surprising science fiction element that I relished for its role.

Marina, a girl found in the Grey between the safety of the Arclight and the dangerous encroaching territory of the Dark, is known as the only survivor with the Dark and the monsters it houses, known as the Fade. Her year-mates hate her, the adults are wary around her, and no one trusts her. She has no family, few memories and an ass-ton of questions that no one can seem to answer. Seriously, it’s a recipe for awesome.

So I don’t exactly know why I wasn’t invested in the narrative. That is, until the near-end.

I call this phenomenon “The Under the Never Sky Effect.” It constitutes a lack of interest or detachment, sometimes even dislike, for the book on the whole all the way up until the super-amazing-ending-that-I-wish-I-had-felt-more-of-along-the-way. Some books fall under TUTNSE farther along in the storyline than others. For instance, Seraphina did this to me up about 100 pages in. In the case of Arclight, I wasn’t in it to win it, per se, until about 100 pages from the ending.

Since that was my only real problem with the book, I’ll say this: It’s a good one. Author McQuein’s writing was fluid and involving (despite my uninvolvement 0_0), and the monsters she’s created are unique. (Not gonna lie, though, when the Fade were first introduced with their cloaks and whatever else, I definitely pictured the monsters from M. Night Shyamalan’s The Village. They grew into their own entity after a while, but still! Ha.) Seriously, they were the most interesting thing about the entire book — scratch that, the whole Arclight universe. Their makeup and how they communicate and… and exist. I’d never heard of anything like it before, and it’s more than likely what kept me going when I set Arclight aside for days at a time and considered leaving it unfinished.

With books like these, it’s hard to discuss anything that doesn’t give away the entire game, but I pulled some simple spoiler-free quotes that kinda resonated with me, so on the good faith that anyone who stumbles across this review will take my word for it when I say read this book, I leave off with them and mark down the sequel, Meridian, as highly-anticipated (even though I don’t even have a “highly-anticipated” shelf).

The line between protected and entombed is much too thin.

p. 5

Light is safety; light is life.

p. 7

I didn’t survive the Dark to die in the Light.

p. 50

Tobin turns, too, taking a half-step in front of me, holding his arm out as a barrier between us. But this time, I’m not the one who needs protection.

This is the [one] who stole me from my family, the one who caged me and left me crying in agony until [they]’d destroyed my life. This is the [one] who’s always treated me as though [their] fears are my fault. I want to tear [them] apart with my bare hands.

p. 343

He doesn’t hate me. It’s the idea of loss that disgusts him.

That’s what this whole thing boils down to. Human or Fade, it doesn’t matter — no one wants to lose the ones they love.

p. 371

Oh yeah, one last note? SUPPORT TEXAS AUTHORS. :D

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