One of my favorite covers to come out of 2013’s young adult releases isáthe one foráArclight by Josin L. McQuein. Sure, it’s pretty on the computer screen, but it is even better in person. Y’all, this book is shiny and I am totally a magpie when it comes to shiny things and it totally reflects the light and everything. I love it. Of course, while a cover is important it is not exactly the most important thing about a book, rather it’s the content. Friends, I genuinely liked McQuein’s young adult debut. However, there are not exactly any sort of OMG LOVE BEST BOOK EVER feelings on my behalf.á
Marina is the first human survivor to come into the this community known as the Arclight from the Dark. However, she has no memories of the time before she entered the Arclight community. WhenáArclight opens, Marina and her friends are in a classroom running safety drills with a teacher, when this light alert system goes off and lets everyone know that the boundaries have been breached by these creatures known as the Fade which apparently are very bad. This sets off a chain of events that leads to secrets being revealed, a romance, and the discovery that just maybe things are not quite what they seem and what the residents of Arclight have been told. FYI, Arclight refers to this community where they are surrounded by bright lights to keep the creatures known as the Fade, who are very, very dangerous out and the light keeps them separated from what is known as the Dark.
I liked Marina as a character. I thought she was interesting and could sustain my attention for over 400 pages. I was never like, ugh this stupid idiot. However, she does get kind of stubborn which instead of annoying me ended up endearing her to me. There were never any love feelings though. There was not a point during the book where I felt entirely connected to Marina and completely invested in her. I kind of felt distant from her, probably this is because she seems so disoriented and as a reader, we learn things as she learn things. Instead of feeling in sync with her though, I could not fully engage because of feeling confused for a lot ofáArclight.
Speaking of confusing, the world building ináArclight is actually really confusing at first. There are not any sort of info dumps so instead I had to really puzzle out what was going on – why the walls change colors and act as alarms, why the people get so scared, why the Fade are bad. This is not terrible, though. I felt that McQuein wrote a really interesting world and explored a part of science fiction and medical fiction that is fascinating to me. I will say that I felt her explanation for the Fade was a unique one and not one that I came to expect.
The writing ináArclight is very straight forward. It’s not boring, but some parts are definitely slower paced than others. I did rush through the slower parts to get to the more exciting action oriented or romance oriented scenes. I liked what McQuein did with her characterization of Tobin, Marina’s love interest. He starts out as sort of a loner and someone who really doesn’t seem to like her, but then he does a 180. It’s not done in a way where he seems like an asshole love interest, but in a way that makes sense given the circumstances. So, good on the author for making a love interest that I really could have disliked seem fully realized. I also want to mention that even though there is a sequel, this book can be read as a standalone which gives me all the YAYs.
I liked Arclight by Josin L. McQuein, I liked the world building, I liked the writing, and I liked the characters. BUT there is a huge difference between like and love is all I am saying.
Disclosure: Review copy provided by publisher