Book Review of Arclight by Josin L. McQuein

Posted April 22, 2013 by Kara in Kara / 27 Comments

Publisher: Greenwillow
Release Date: April 23rd, 2013
Pages: 400
Genre: Young Adult-Dystopian
Source: Edelweiss
Series: Arclight #1

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Description from GoodreadsNo 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?

Arclight is one of those books I really wanted to love, and kinda still did, but there were some technical issues that I could not overlook which made me have to lower the rating. Though I didn’t want to because this is truly a memorable novel and one that makes use of some pretty original ideas and world-building that makes it stand out amongst a saturated genre.

I had two major issues with the novel though that simply cannot be overlooked. The protagonist is pretty unlikable throughout the entire middle portion of the book, and also, some of the writing is incredibly vague and hard to follow. Especially when it comes to the world-building. So let’s start with Marina.

I liked her at first and how she questioned things and investigated her surroundings. But when the truth started to come out and it was practically staring her in the face, she became incorrigible and willfully ignorant. It got so bad that I put the book down and almost contemplated not going back, but I had kinda sort of already reached the point of no return and I didn’t want all that time I invested to go to waste. Luckily some of the other characters were compelling enough to keep me going and I was still engaged by the story because when things like that happen, I tend to get frustrated and angry very quickly. But…it was worth it to stick out. And I’m glad I did.

My second issue was with some of the setting descriptions. As much as I thought the world-building was innovative, some of the writing was very vague and hard to follow. I wasn’t sure of the author’s intent and had a tough time with some of the imagery. I couldn’t picture it and I didn’t know what she meant. I actually discussed this with another reader via Twitter who agreed with me. But it does not seem to be a problem for everyone so perhaps it comes down to brain function. 😀

I really don’t have any other complaints though. I still think it was a wonderful debut novel that presented some really great ideas and a universe that I am glad is going to be continued in another book, which I just found out the other day. Not a series, per se, but more like a companion novel, I think. Which is exciting. 

The other thing I must mention? Arclight was pretty terrifying in places. Especially the first hundred or so pages before we get an inkling of what is going on. If you are easily frightened, I would be cognizant of this and maybe read it during the day. The opening chapters were pretty powerful and suspenseful. 

I definitely recommend Arclight. And I know this review is not my greatest, but I just don’t have a lot to say. It was a pretty terrific book, minus a few issues. I really wanted to rate it up because of how different it was, but I couldn’t. That doesn’t mean I didn’t like it though, because I definitely see this author becoming one of my future favorites and I look forward to seeing the premise of the next book. Some of the reviews for this are a little mixed, but I think the overall sentiment is that this is an enjoyable read. And it was.
3/5 Stars

27 responses to “Book Review of Arclight by Josin L. McQuein

  1. Oooh After this review I just want to read the first few chapters and nothing else! LOL

    I definitely know the feeling of being past the point of no return, that’s how I was with TRANSPARENT, I wish I had DNF’d that shit when I first thought about it, but instead I kept on and kicked myself for a day. Too bad the world building wasn’t up to par. I honestly think I am dystopianed out, they are just everywhere and I don’t think I have read one that I have rated over 4 stars this year, sad. Anywho, great review! Love the honesty and all that jazz!

    • LOL! Those first few chapters were pretty brilliant!

      I’m sorry you finished Transparent. I’m even sorrier that you didn’t like it. I know how much so many of you were looking forward to it!

      I don’t think I could ever be dystopianed out, though I probably should be by now.

  2. Okay, so I think it’s hilarious that we have the same rating, but came to it differently. Like, we actually took issue with the same things, but our reactions are different. So what was for me an obvious plot twist made you hate Marina for being incredibly dumb not to see it coming. And what I thought was completely predictable, standard dystopian world building was vague descriptions. I never notice that stuff (well, almost never), just because I am so not a visual reader.

    It was fun, but I hope Premeditated is more original.

    • I’m not surprised! Our brains function differently, it seems, but we often agree anyway! And maybe it is because I am such a visual reader. How do you NOT visually read? If you can ever figure out how to explain this to me, please do.

      I think I will let some of you read Premeditated first and see how it is. The blurb doesn’t really do much for me.

  3. I’m about to finish Arclight, and I like it more than you do, but I have to agree with the world-building in some places. I still can’t imagine what the Arclight looks like, LOL! I want someone to draw me a picture:)

  4. Amy

    My review for this posts tomorrow. I liked it too, but didn’t love it as much as I was hoping to. I loved the creepy factor to it, but I was hoping that the whole book would be creepy. I was a bit disappointed that it didn’t last long lol. I did think that it was a great book though. Awesome review chick!

  5. I think I’m going to pick it up anyway. You have me hooked by saying the first chapters will scare me 🙂

    I’m really looking forward to PREMEDITATED. Will probably knock people over on my way to the bookstore to get it too 🙂

  6. I definitely agree that the MC and world-building were problematic in this one, but I love how balanced your review is despite the flaws you point out. I wonder if I’d have really enjoyed this more if I continued but it just felt like such an “okay” read to me. Also, without a connection to the MC, the book is essentially doomed for me. :/ Still, lovely review, Kara! I should probably try this author’s other novel before completely writing her off.

    • If you didn’t like the MC at all, then it’s probably good you didn’t stick it out. I only sort of liked her and it still was difficult at times. Let me know how her other book is! She writes well, so I have hope!

  7. Oooh, it’s scary…like REALLY scary? *cheers*

    But man, that MC would get on my nerves. I can’t stand it when the truth is all, “I’m in your face!” and the MC is all, “LALALALALA.” And issues with descriptions/lack thereof in settings sucks. 🙁 Still, I’m glad you liked this, chica!

    Molli | Once Upon a Prologue

  8. Okay, I NEED this book, and I am SO kicking myself for not requesting it when it came up on Edelweiss. I think the issues you pointed out are ones that I can get past if the plot is compelling enough, and it sounds like it will be. Also, I am such a sucker for horror and thriller, so anything that’s scary immediately has me going all grabby-hands.

    • Okay, so before you get too excited, I didn’t think the ENTIRE book was scary. The first couple of chapters were, and then there was some stuff in the middle section that freaked me out. It all has to do with the plot.

      I still think you might like it though.

  9. OMG we’re review twins today!! *high fives* I’m so happy you liked this one better than I did, because I think I’m just fizzling out in the dystopian genre it’s all becoming so typical >.< I didn’t really Orince that setting issue either, I don’t think, but I’m glad the world building was fantastic! I’m talking like I didn’t read the book but I seriously can’t remember it for my life I don’t understanddddd. YAY FOR SCARY TOO! Scary terrifies me, but since scary has that goal, I guess we’re good lol

    Fantastic review, Kara! I’m glad you enjoyed this for the most part and thought it was a great debut 🙂

  10. I have heard such great things about this book, but when I went to read it myself I couldn’t get past the first twenty pages. I still plan to go back and try reading it again sometime and your review has definitely made me consider doing that sooner rather than later. You pushed through and enjoyed it, so maybe I will too! I haven’t read anything truly terrifying in a while, which I’ve really missed as well. And if the other characters are better, than perhaps it will be worth it 🙂 Fabulous, FABULOUS review as always. <3

  11. Oh great insightful review Kara! I like how unique and suspenseful this sounds, juts like I was hoping it would be! It’s a shame some of the imagery didn’t really work out though…AND the the MC was so blind and stubborn in the middle there – it’s good that some secondary characters were compelling enough to keep your interest though! I still think I want to check this one out, despite it’s flaws. The unique premise and creepy factor are calling my name and at least I’m now prepared for some frustrations along the way too LOL Thanks for sharing!

    • Thanks, Micheline! You might not have an issue though. There were a couple of bloggers that agreed with me but there were many that did not have any writing issues. I hope you enjoy it!

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