Review + Giveaway: Arclight

I received this book for free from YA Books Central in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review + Giveaway: ArclightArclight by Josin L. McQuein
Series: Arclight #1
Published by Greenwillow on April 23, 2013
Genres: Dystopian, Mystery, Romance
Pages: 400
Format: ARC
Source: YA Books Central

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?

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

McQuein is making her debut with a vengeance in 2013, publishing both her first and second novels a couple of months apart from different imprints. Perhaps even more impressive, they’re both in different genres (Arclight is dystopian and Premeditated is a contemporary thriller). All of the reviews I’ve seen for Arclight thus far have been highly positive. Based on Arclight, we can expect good things from McQuein.

Arclight has solid writing and plenty of action to keep the reader entertained. The future herein depicted is suitably creepy and the attack of the compound in the first chapter is a perfect hook to bring the reader into the story. It had a very Jurassic Park feel; that moment when the velociraptors are testing the fences.

Marina is interesting, not utterly dependent or physically powerful. She has intelligence and determination on her side, but doesn’t fit the heroine stereotypes which is great. What McQuein handles very well is Marina’s emotional arc. I can’t go into details on that, but I love her development throughout the book and her struggles to figure out her past.

Though their connection seems to come on a bit fast, I did like Tobin as a character and they are cute together. What I would have liked to see more of is Marina’s connection with her supposed best friend Anne-Marie, who both she and Tobin mostly seem annoyed by. The characters are likable, but lacked the depth to really make me care about them.

Arclight joins the small list of books with love triangles that don’t make me want to hurl things at the wall. Marina’s two options both make a different kind of sense for her, and there’s a real reason for deciding to be somewhat difficult. Both guys are nice, if a bit too much in the protective and obsessive vein to be my cup of joe (see what I did there?). In both cases, I would have liked to see a bit more of the development of the romances, but what’s there suffices. The resolution of the love triangle I’m of two minds about. I’m glad Marina was decisive, but I don’t necessarily approve of her choice.

The biggest element that kept me from connecting with Arclight or from being sucked into the action was its predictability. Now, I actually watched a couple of my blogger friends tweeting today about how they had no idea what was going on, so this might just be me and the fact that I’ve read over a hundred dystopias. To me, the plot twist was incredibly obvious from very early on in the book, so all of that build up and tension did nothing for me, when I should have been on tenterhooks.

Similarly, the world building is a variation on a theme. Science went too far and resulted in these creatures, the Fade, and now a small group of humanity is trying to survive within walls. However, the protections seem to be failing, and humanity might be doomed. The people in the Arclight don’t even know if there are any other human communities left. All of this is pretty par for the course. I will say, though, that I did really like finding out what the Fade actually are.

Josin L. McQuein’s debut will surely be a hit with teen and adult audiences, particularly those with less of a background in dystopian fiction. There’s action, romance, and thought-provoking ethical questions. I’ll be looking forward to the sequel!

Favorite Quote:

“‘I know one thing about the place I came from,’ I say. ‘We didn’t eat dessert.’
‘Then you came from a horrible and backward place and must stay here out of self-preservation.'”

One lucky US reader gets to have my ARC of Arclight, and I baby my books, so it’s in great condition. Fill out the Rafflecopter to enter. 
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37 responses to “Review + Giveaway: Arclight”

  1. I’m glad the love triangle didn’t make you throw things. I’ve heard good things about this one and hope I don’t find it quit as predictable as you did.

  2. It’s good to hear about the love triangle. I’m still trying to decide how I feel about them, but this one sounds like I could handle it as well ;-). Especially knowing that there is resolution, I love decisive female characters 😀

    Anya @ On Starships and Dragonwings

    • Christina says:

      In theory, I’m totally okay with love triangles, but, in fiction, they’re often horrid. All that has to happen is for the central person not to claim to be equally in love with both. Confusion I get, but you’re going to love one more or you probably don’t love either enough. That’s just me, though. I know some don’t disagree with that.

  3. Kelly says:

    I seem to be of two minds with predictable plot twists; sometimes, I enjoy the journey enough that I don’t care. Other times, I’m frustrated that I’ve figured it out and the protagonist is still blumbering around. Here’s hoping with Arclight, I don’t feel the latter! Haha

    And the idea of a decisive conclusion to a love triangle, in what I assume is book 1 of a series? sounds awesome!

    • Christina says:

      Yeah, this one wasn’t super frustrating. I mean, if it weren’t something I’ve encountered in books before, it might not have been so obvious. She probably could have figured it out sooner, but I didn’t feel like Marina was TSTL or anything.

      I didn’t realize it was a series until later, but, yeah. I suspect it may be less decisive in the next book, so now I’m side-eying it.

  4. Is there a sequel?

    >> I’m glad Marina was decisive, but I don’t necessarily approve of her choice.<< That was my biggest issue with Arclight. Loved the story, but I wasn’t thrilled with who she chose in the end. It makes some sense, but I keep thinking of the people she left behind… : /

    • Christina says:

      There is. Just learned this morning and had to edit the review. *headdesks* I’m not opposed to more, but I’m annoyed that I didn’t know originally.

      I get why she made that choice, but it’s not the one I would have made. I feel like if there’d been more focus on her reclaimed memories, she might have done something else.

    • Interesting. Believe it or not, this completely changes my view on the ending. I thought it was a standalone and was disappointed in her choice. I really think she made the wrong one. Now that I know it’s not over, I can get excited about the next part in the story. 😀

  5. Megan K. says:

    Arclight joins the small list of books with love triangles that don’t make me want to hurl things at the wall.” – Whoo! Is it possible that annoying love triangles are finally becoming extinct? Glad this worked out for you, Christina. Marina does sound like an interesting heroine, and I think different is something we need to see more in YA novels nowadays. I’m particularly interested in reading about these paranormal creatures, Fades, and the science aspect of this book. I always thought it would be purely parafantasy. You’ve got me excited for this now. Great review as always!

    • Christina says:

      Hahaha, I seriously doubt that. Of course, there’s a sequel, so that might be love triangle head banging of the worst kind, but let’s hope not, shall we? Nope, definitely went in a science-y direction, which surprised me as well.

  6. Oh noooo, it’s got that attitude about science?

    ARGH. why does it seem like there are no YA sci fi novels that are 1. actually science fiction and 2. don’t portray science in this evil way? Okay, I’m making a huge assumption based on one sentence you wrote but still.

    I’ve read similar things about the characters, but didn’t know about the love triangle. Interesting, though, that it was resolved (?) in this book.

    • Christina says:

      Well, I’m not sure if the ultimate attitude is that, but that’s what resulted in the world being the way it is. Whether it’s for the best or the worst is sort of unclear. I would say the science isn’t evil exactly, but it’s definitely a catalyst for change.

      Well, it’s resolved, but there’s more so I’m guessing it will be un-resolved, which I suspect will be frustrating.

  7. KM says:

    Most of the negative comments I’ve seen for this one involve the romance and its lack of development. My complaint is it’s dystopian and if I never see another post-apocalyptic/light sci-fi/dystopian book, it’ll be too soon.

    • Christina says:

      Hahahaha, oh man. You are so over this genre. I think I may need some time away from dystopias too. Though I’m reading The 5th Wave and it’s really good. So far it’s more of a post-apocalyptic though.

  8. I was quite impressed by the love triangle as well, in the sense that they normally make me want to rip my hair out. You basically said everything I did, except I enjoyed it just a wee bit more. Mostly because of Rue. *fans self* Yes, I have issues.

    And YESSSSS, the plot twist was totally obvious! I’d figured it out from the beginning. We, Christina, are geniuses.

    • Christina says:

      I was definitely shipping her with Rue, but I wouldn’t want him for myself. You know? It’s weird though, because I do like Tobin, but I’m just not feeling that, even though I’m usually ALL about the hatred to love thing. Oh well.

      Yeah! *fistbumps*

    • Hahaha, yep. I just have really strange taste in… guys? I guess that’s an okay word to use here. I like it when characters hate each other at first too. I don’t think it lasted long enough with Marina and Tobin.

    • Christina says:

      *snorts* Rue was a little too overprotective for me to want one of my own, but I did like him better. Yeah, she rushed it. I was all for it until shit started going down and they become super serious out of nowhere. They had nice vibes but then BOOM nigh instalove in our faces.

  9. Soma Rostam says:

    Well, this sounds interesting. This is the first review I read but it stands out, indeed
    GREAT review,as always
    Your reader,

  10. thebookwurrm says:

    Not my cup of joe 😉 either. I read dystopians very reluctantly though I am reading Obernewtyn (which is not Dystopian in the traditional sense, more of a marriage between fantasy and dystopian) and a few others. There really is a formula to writing dystopian and most authors seem to be following it. Excellent review, Christina. Helped me decide that this one is not for me.

    • Christina says:

      I love dystopians…in theory, anyway. In reality, so many of them just try to walk it in, and it’s sad. Though all of the premises sound amazing, I generally end up being disappointed in the final product, so I probably need to chill with them for a while.

      Arclight’s a solid one, but it does follow some basic formulas, so if you’re iffy on this genre that’s probably a good choice. You can always revisit it later if another of her books really impresses you!

  11. Heather says:

    Two books in one year?! How cool is that?

    Also, you had me at the Jurassic Park comparison. I don’t even care if there are dinosaurs (What? Who am I?); I just like that you compared it to that. haha

    Hmm…I wonder if I’d be able to predict the plot twist? I definitely need to read this to find out, as it sounds pretty great 🙂

    This has nothing to do with the content of the book, but I love all the colors on the cover!

    • Heather says:

      Also, I just saw the thing you did with the rafflecopter, you nerd! haha

    • Christina says:

      Hahahaha, there are not dinosaurs. I don’t want you to be disappoint, but the comparison is totally apt for that scene. Haha.

      WILL YOU? Find out on the next episode of Heather Reads!

      Oh, the colors do have to do with the content of the book actually. BOOM.

  12. So agree about love triangles. If you looked at movies and books, you would have to assume said triangles are problems of an epidemic proportion in our society when in reality it is just a lazy way of creating drama. Don’t get me wrong, it can be done well but it can be so terrible and overblown.

    I’m glad you liked Arclight because books I want to believe that all books with cool covers are going to be good.

    • Christina says:

      Oh yeah. I mean, I’m sure they do happen, especially in the teen years with hormones running rampant, but it’s not handled in realistic ways most of the time.

      Hope you enjoy!

  13. So I kind of want to read this because everyone is talking about it but I don’t want they hype to ruin it for me, so I don’t know. I do think that even though you found it to be predictable I won’t because I often miss the obvious and I don’t read dystopians very often.

  14. I have this sitting on my nightstand as I type this, but just haven’t been able to bring myself to pick it up. You review is making me a little more open to reading it. I think I might be getting sick of dystopias, which I never thought I would say…

    • Christina says:

      Ha, same here, though not of dystopias specifically, but of how many are TERRIBLE. I think Wasteland was the nail in that coffin. I’m reading The 5th Wave now and it’s great. This one’s a lot of fun, though not exactly innovative. Worth trying, I say!

  15. Yo, the mention of JURASSIC MOTHA FUCKING PARK has me chomping at the bit. Clearly I need to read this book sooner rather than later.

    AND OMG.

    A non sucky love triangle? Be still my heart. BE STILL.

    I think I’ll like Arclight because I am not so versed in dystopias.

    • Christina says:

      Bahahaha, the awesome people gravitated to that. It could only have been more awesome if the attack was actually by dinosaurs. Haha.

      ALSO, I think you will enjoy this.

  16. Molli Moran says:

    A love triangle that doesn’t make you want to throw things, eh? NICE. Those are so rare. I’m working on a rant-y discussion post about love triangles, as you do from time to time.

    I’m REALLY leery of dystopians because so many of them are NOT original, so I’m curious how I feel about this one, and if I get the twists or if I’m genuinely surprised. Nice review, chica!

    Molli | Once Upon a Prologue

    • Christina says:

      Ha! I’m okay with love triangles as long as it’s not her leading one on while she obviously wants the other OR being all “I LOVE YOU” to both. Double instalove makes me hurl.

      It’s really fun, either way, but will be even better if you’re surprised by some things.

  17. Amanda says:

    I didn’t realize that this author had also written Premeditated! I guess it is quite the debut year for her. While I have seen lots of hype for Premeditated (and much more, I’m sure, closer to its release date), I haven’t really read too many reviews of Arclight yet. I must admit, that synopsis is incredibly vague. Your review of it has definitely intrigued me though. I haven’t read too many dystopias, and that, combined with the fact I’m the most oblivious reader ever, should maybe increase my enjoyment of this book. I’ll have to keep looking into this, but I may have to give this a chance myself in the near future. 🙂

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