Book Review: Arclight

Published By: Greenwillow Books
Publication Date: April 23, 2013
Page Count: 400
Source: ARC Kindly Provided by Publisher
Audience: Young Adult - Science Fiction

This was perhaps one of the most imaginative science fiction books I have ever read. The world that Josin L. McQuein creates is chilling. In the future, the world no longer exists as we know it. There are patches of Darkness where the Fade live and patches of Light where humans congregate in small settlements trying to keep the Darkness at bay. In between the Light and Dark, lies the Gray, a vast area where neither Fade or human wishes to linger. I loved the way McQuein structured her setting and unraveled its mysteries.

I won't speak too much in this review about the Fade. I went into this book knowing virtually nothing about it other than what I gleaned from the tiny blurb on the back cover. I found that this made my reading experience frustrating and exhilarating at the same time. My frustration arose for two main reasons and I admit that it was caused more by me than the writing or the story. First, McQuein throws you right into the action with very little information for you to orient yourself. I had no idea what was really happening when all hell started breaking loose in the first chapter. Some readers probably enjoy being thrust into a story's action, but it took me several chapters to fully gain my bearings. Second, I had trouble visualizing the Fade. McQuein does an admirable job of describing this group, but I just couldn't seem to conjure the right image as I read. I feel that this might be why I felt this was more of a science fiction novel and less of a horror one.

The fun part really begins when Marina, the main character, befriends Tobin. I started to really fall into the groove of McQuein's writing and the flow of the story. Arclight is action packed and moves at a break neck speed. The creep factor lessens after the opening scenes when things start to become clear. There were some twists I saw coming, but others that snuck up on me gradually. It's so hard to review this novel without spoiling anything, but I promise it will be better if  you experience this novel for yourself.

I did have trouble liking Marina at first. It's hard to like a character who doesn't know who she is and often functions like a blank slate. I felt that Marina didn't have much personality beyond the things she picked up from those around her. As the novel progresses, she changes and grows. By the end, I was firmly on her side and rooting for her. I also enjoyed Rue and Tobin; I won't say anything about these two, but they are worth getting to know.

In addition, I really liked that the characters in this novel mimicked the landscape. Many of them lived in an ethical gray area even when they appeared to be firmly entrenched in the Light or the Dark. It makes me think of all the times in fiction when the notion of both Light and Dark living within us all is referenced. It was interesting to watch that dynamic play out within individuals and the society as a whole. None of the characters were completely what they seemed.

Arclight is certainly something special. It was not only entertaining (even to a self professed non-Sci Fi reader like me), but it also raised some intriguing questions. I found myself pondering ethics, medical research, and societal judgments. It also reminded me that too often we judge what we do not understand and fear what is different.

One Last Gripe: I figured out the big twist easily.

My Favorite Thing About The Book: The Setting

First Sentence: Someone's attention shouldn't have physical weight, but it does.

Favorite Character: Rue

Least Favorite Character: Lt. Sykes

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. I have been reading a little more science fiction, and I think this sounds definitely like something I would enjoy. I am hoping that my library will carry it soon. Great review.

    Jenea @ Books Live Forever

    1. I liked that it was something different than what I would normally pick up. I'd love to hear your thoughts when you have a chance to read it.

  2. Great review. This sounds different and interesting. I DO like Sci-fi, so I'm adding this to my list! Thanks.

    1. Thank you! It was certainly different and interesting. I think true Sci-Fi fans will love it even more than I did. I was so compelled by the Fade.

  3. Replies
    1. You will adore it. It's definitely a Paula read.


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