Review: Arclight

Author: Josin L. McQueen
Pages: 403
Publication date: April 23 2013
Source: Library ebook

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?

Arclight's saving grace was that it was a quick read. Otherwise, Arclight was a decent book, but not one I think I particularly enjoyed.

I always wonder, why do I continue to read books like this? This time, it was because it was so short and required very little effort. I've barely read any books this year, so even reading an okay book is worth something. And I hate to act like this was a terrible story because by all means, it was certainly not terrible. It had its fascinating scenes, and an interesting concept. It just wasn't exciting enough for me. I'm a little confused that this is part of a series because it could have easily been a standalone. I thought the story was resolved, and I liked that the story didn't take more time than it needed. 

I sometimes complain that some books start at the wrong places. This was one that started right in the middle of the action. This made Arclight more about the constant thrill, with very little rising action. The first scene was literally during a break-in by the Fade, and it was a really important plot event. It was a long action-ish scene that had very little reflection, and it was stylistically a little different from most books that try to introduce the world first, then get to the plot. Perhaps I continued reading Arclight because I was impressed with this creativity. 

I do think the characters fell extremely flat. It was hard to tell how old they were, and it was hard to really care too much about them. I don't know why, but maybe it was because I never had time to learn to love Marina and the rest. Marina had, what felt to me, like a very cold narrative perspective. She was curious and acted so detached, which made sense because she couldn't remember anything from her past after she was pulled out of the Dark, but I thought there could have been a little more profound focus put on what it means to live without a history. The author mentioned it, but it was more like a brief skim. Maybe such descriptions just don't work in a story that was all about action?

While the plot was reasonably fascinating, I guess I wasn't blown away with the eventual premise. I think it brings up some cool philosophical questions that were softly touched upon, but I think this kind of book just touches on stuff without really exploring it. That will appeal to some readers, especially those that don't like as much detail in their books, but it will make other readers like me feel somewhat dissatisfied. 

One thing I must note about Arclight is that it was actually a story in which adults existed. Often, in YA, the teens are going off and doing things to save the world and it seems like the adults are utterly clueless, incompetent fools. In Arclight, the youth was taken care of and guided by the adults. That just felt like such a surprising difference. I don't remember if the particular age of Marina was mentioned, but she and her friends are quite young, and so I'm glad they did have adults there that looked after them. 

Overall, I think there wasn't too much to the story and it was reasonably simple. This is a lighter dystopia that is novel because it is written a little differently from typical dystopias, and it is ideal for people that might not desire too much detail in their books. It's a very quick read, and okay, apparently Goodreads says it has 400 pages, which in fairness is quite short when you compare it to The Bone Season and Heir of Fire, which I had read before this. But it feels quick. Promise. 



  1. Hmmm, I have this one pending to read on the TBR pile and I do hope that I'll like it better than you did, PE... Great honest review anyways!

    1. I hope you do too! I think it was just tough for a book to follow Heir of Fire...



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