{Review} ARCLIGHT by Josin L. McQuein

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O P E N I N G   L I N E:

SOMEONE'S attention shouldn't have physical weight, but it does.  Hate's a heavy burden; hope is worse.  It's a mix of the two that beats against my skin as my classmates condemn me, and I do what I always do--pretend not to notice the burn gathering at the base of my neck that says I'm being watched.
(pg. 6, US e-ARC edition)

Back in February, ARCLIGHT was optioned by Universal Studios for film...and the book didn't even hit shelves until last week.  There's a lot of buzz about this title, and Josin L. McQuein has been on my radar ever since she submitted her query letter for PREMEDITATED (Out Oct. 2013 from Random House / Delacorte Books for Young Readers).  She has a style of writing that absolutely grabs your attention, forces you to stop and take a peek, and doesn't loosen its hold until you take the time to stop and do exactly that.

The world and foundation of ARCLIGHT is vast and hard to sum up briefly, but the gist of it revolves around the people living in The Arclight.  Most of humanity has been eliminated, and The Arclight is all that protects everyone remaining from The Fade, who hate the light and are unable to breach the walls and come inside.  Everyone is shocked when a girl named Marina appears, proving that there are humans living beyond the walls of The Arclight.  She is the only survivor of her group, though, and barely escaped The Fade.  Now, The Fade have their eyes set on The Arclight and are willing to do anything to destroy the humans living within its borders.  ...At least, that's what everyone is told.  The truth is a scary, slippery thing that will test everyone's resolve.

That summary doesn't even encompass half of what ARCLIGHT is about, but it's hard to talk about without giving away any spoilers.  There's a lot of sci-fi in this one, and it has the feel of a true dystopian, not the half-baked offerings so many authors are putting out lately.  To me, a lot of the "surprise twists" were predictable, but we've talked before about how I can see things coming that many other readers can't, so there is that.  McQuein's world-building is phenomenal, the true stand-out of the novel.  In this way, I am heavily reminded of THE SHADOW SOCIETY by Marie Rutkoski (My review).  Both books are so uniquely developed that all I wanted to do was read more and more.  McQuein also has a beautiful way of writing; her words and sentences just slammed into me at times, and I had to stop and re-read the line.  You can tell just by looking at the above hook; there's just something about the way she words ordinary sentences that makes them suddenly seem special.

All of that aside, it took me a long time to truly sink into the world of ARCLIGHT.  At first, I wasn't sure I could finish the book, and that devastated me because I'd been badly looking forward to this one.  Sci-fi really isn't my thing, and I always struggle more with it than I do other types of writing.  Once The Fade collided with The Arclight, however, I was able to maintain a connection and become invested in the story, but it was slow-going for me.  So if you're like me in this aspect, stick with it!  And if you wind up not being able to because sci-fi isn't your thing, don't write McQuein off.  I've been lucky enough to read an ARC of this October's release of PREMEDITATED, and while I won't share my review with you until late Sept./Early Oct., know now that it is delicious and you're going to want to pick it up and devour it.  I connected with that one from the very start and look forward to sharing my thoughts with all of you.  It will be so interesting to see where McQuein goes in the future and what other types of stories and genres she has stored in her head to share with all of us.

C O V E R   D E S I G N:

On screen, this cover doesn't look like much, but that's because of all the special effects you can't see.  In person, ARCLIGHT is super shiny and flashes all kinds of colors as you tilt it in the light.  It's definitely eye-catching!

Is it my favorite cover?  No.  But it's fun, and that's what counts!

O F F I C I A L   I N F O:

Author: Josin L. McQuein
Release Date: Out April 23, 2013
Publisher:Greenwillow Books / HarperCollins
Received: For Review

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 am really looking forward to picking this one up. It sounds like something I would enjoy. Glad you did, great review.

    Jenea @ Books Live Forever

  2. Definitely looking forward to this, has a certain Matrixy vibe to it.


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