Arclight | Josin L. McQuein | Book Review

One of my favorite covers to come out of 2013’s young adult releases is the one for Arclight 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. 

Arclight by Josin L. McQuein | Good Books And Good Wine

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. When Arclight 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 of Arclight.

Speaking of confusing, the world building in Arclight 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 in Arclight 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

Other reviews of Arclight by Josin L. McQuein:

Snuggly Oranges – “an astonishingly powerful debut
Cuddlebuggery – “a great concept, greatly executed
Bookshelvers Anonymous – “I loved every minute.

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April is in her 30s and created Good Books And Good Wine. She works for a non-profit. April always has a book on hand. In her free time she can be found binge watching The Office with her husband and toddler, spending way too much time on Pinterest or exploring her neighborhood.
About April (Books&Wine)

April is in her 30s and created Good Books And Good Wine. She works for a non-profit. April always has a book on hand. In her free time she can be found binge watching The Office with her husband and toddler, spending way too much time on Pinterest or exploring her neighborhood.


  1. Ah man…I have had Arclight sitting in my ARC review pile for a while and for whatever reason I just can’t read it yet. Now after reading this my worst fears are being confirmed 🙁 I just came off a high after reading Asylum and I don’t want to come down so Arclight will just have to wait some more! Thanks for the review!

  2. That is a really gorgeous and unique cover. Too bad what’s inside isn’t quite as gorgeous and unique. But from what you’ve written about it, I’m interested enough that I’ll read it if I get the chance. I want to know what the Fade are and how medicine plays a part in the story. Thanks for the review, April! 🙂

  3. That’s a shame that you were never fully invested on Marina’s character, and that the world-building was a bit confusing. It sounds like a good library check-out kind of a book, though!

    Nice honest review 🙂

  4. Oh, I’m glad Marina’s stubbornness endeared her to you instead of annoying you esp because you didn’t really connect! I find that it can go either way for me. PRETTY SURE I would be confused by the world building in Arclight too because most of the time, I’m like WHAT? and forge on in hopes I’ll understand, ha. Also hmm to the love interest! Thanks for the honest review.

  5. I confess I totally bought the US version of this book simply for the cover, I didn’t even know what it was about until I read your review lol. Glad it sounds interesting anyway, pity you didn’t love it but I’m glad you did like all aspects of it!

  6. Huh, I was never a huge fan of this cover. Lol. But I know a lot of people love it.

    I liked this one too, but I def didn’t have the swoony love feelings ever. There wasn’t much that was super unique. Like, everything reminded me of some other book. It was pretty well done, but that did detract from the emotional side.

    So you ship her with Tobin rather than other guy?