Arclight: review

March 6, 2013 2013, 4 star books, dystopian/post-apocalyptic, josin mcquein, sci fi or futuristic, tonya 77 ★★★★

Arclight: reviewArclight by Josin L. McQuein
Series: Arclight #1
Published by Harper Collins on April 23, 2013
Genres: science fiction
Pages: 416
Format: eARC
Source: Publisher
AmazonIndieboundBarnes & NobleGoodreads
A harrowing sci-fi thriller that #1 New York Times bestselling author Pittacus Lore proclaimed "Powerful and gripping." This bold and astonishing novel about identity, unnerving connections, tortured romance, and facing our worst nightmares is made for fans of Veronica Roth, Stephen King, and Justin Cronin.

The Arclight is the last refuge in a post-apocalyptic world consumed by terrifying creatures called the Fade. No one crosses the wall of light that keeps the last human survivors safe. There's nothing else left and nowhere to go. Or so they thought, until Marina, a lone teenage girl, stumbles out of the Dark.

Marina doesn't remember who she is, where she came from, or how she survived. And the Fade want her back. When one of them infiltrates the compound and recognizes Marina, she begins to unlock secrets she didn't even know she had. Marina knows she's an outsider, but she'll do anything to protect those who saved her. Whether they want her help or not.
A harrowing sci-fi thriller about a teen who’s survived horrors but lost her memory, for fans of Veronica Roth, Stephen King, and Justin Cronin.

When I read that description, I actually groaned. Comparing anything to those authors is just as bad as every new dystopian being coined the next Hunger Games; it nearly always sets up the reader for disappointment. What could possibly live up to those standards?

Well, Arclight by Josin McQuein kind of… does. It’s got the dystopian feel of Divergent, the King creep-factor, and a serving of government experiment gone horribly wrong courtesy of Cronin.

Marina woke up in the Arclight hospital, with no memory of how she got there. All she knows is what she’s been told: they found her in the Grey, hiding from the Fades, and brought her back to the compound. She doesn’t know who she is, or where she came from before that–no one does.

The Arclight trains its children to fear the dark, but I can’t fear the familiar. Darkness is all I know, and the passing weeks don’t change that. I don’t remember a world before the fluke of my survival was deemed a miracle.

I don’t feel like a miracle. I feel like a scared and lost little girl who doesn’t remember her way home.

As far as anyone in the Arclight knows, they’re the only remaining survivors of the Fade, the vicious parasites who live in the dark and prey on humans, using their bodies as hosts.

Or are they? When a Fade is captured and brought into the compound for observation and research, Marina senses that not everything is what it seems.

Arclight is full of twists and turns, and while I did figure out where we were headed fairly early on, the end was still a surprise for me, which is hard to accomplish. McQuein built a solid world, and gave a depth to her characters that had me consistently changing my opinions. But what I enjoyed more than anything was the grey area she developed between good and evil, right and wrong.

Dystopian/post-apocalyptic stories were what first drew me to YA, and my interest has yet to wane. But even so, I’ve been tiring of the same post-war/natural disaster, or social experiment gone wrong scenarios. With the addition of a sci-fi element, Arclight brings a refreshing change to the genre–one that tip-toes over the line of plausibility, but still has you asking yourself what if?

This review also appears on GoodReads.  An advance copy was provided by the publisher. 

Stay tuned: author Josin McQuein will be joining us on the blog in April with a special guest post to celebrate Arclight’s release!

Tonya sig - teal


77 Responses to “Arclight: review”

  1. Rachel

    I don’t really care if a book is compared to other popular reads. I don’t let this creep into my opinions. I like the fact there is depth to the characters because I’m a character driven reader more than anything. This sounds really good. :)

  2. Michelle Morris

    Wow! While I’ve been keeping an eye out for Arclight, I wasn’t exactly sure of what to expect. Now, I’m really excited for it. It sounds amazing. I’m a sucker for dystopians to begin with and I really love the concept behind this one. I can’t wait to read. Thanks for the review!!

  3. Octavia H

    I was already ridiculously excited for Arclight but your review solidified that excitement! I’m always weary of books compared to books (especially really popular ones), but your review erased any of that hesitation.

  4. Nicole Mainardi

    I got this one for review and have been hearing really good things about it! And I really love that cover. I can’t wait to get into this one, great review :)

  5. Book Chelle

    The cover is pretty. When I first read the synopsis, I was also skeptical. Your review has me second guessing my original opinion. But part of me wonders if dystopian stories are the thing of the past now. I love the worlds, but part of me feels like we all need something new.

    I know, I’m hard to please. Just give me a cupcake.

  6. Sana

    I was so not going to read this book but your review has definitely left me intrigued and interested in the book. And even more so when I’ve fallen in love with the dystopian genre.

  7. Lyn Kaye

    TONYA! You made me add it to my list! I was afraid of falling for the entire book cover lust, but I just give up and now I want it!

  8. Alison

    Thanks for the review! I think I’ll give the book a try- it sounds great! :) But I’m not to crazy about the cover.

  9. erin

    Thanks for the great review! I’ve had my eye on this one for a while and I’m glad it lives up to the hype :)

    • tonya

      I actually hadn’t heard of it before I picked up the ARC. I’m glad to hear it’s getting some buzz! I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

  10. Candace

    There’s been a lot of build up for this one but I hadn’t read any reviews yet. I have the book and I’m definitely feeling a stronger urge to read it now that you said it actually is pretty great.

    • tonya

      I hope you do! It was a really quick read that pulled me in almost immediately. Perfect for a weekend afternoon. :)

  11. Barbara E.

    Dystopian/post-apocalyptic with the addition of a sci-fi element, you’ve got my attention. Arclight sounds like a great story and I’m definitely going to check it out.

    • tonya

      I think it’s a great twist for those of us who love the dystopian genre, but are getting a little tired of the same old trends. I hope you enjoy as much as I did!

  12. Ann LoveMay

    This sounds like a really good read! Definitely have to check it out! I love all of the “vicious parasites who live in the dark and prey on humans, using their bodies as hosts” That sounds like something I would read(: Thanks for the review!

  13. Ann LoveMay

    This sounds like a really good read! Definitely have to check it out! I love all of the “vicious parasites who live in the dark and prey on humans, using their bodies as hosts” That sounds like something I would read(: Thanks for the review!

    • tonya

      The Fades were definitely very creepy throughout the story, which just added to my enjoyment of it overall. I think you’ll like!

  14. Kim (YA Asylum)

    I’m really excited about this book. I’ve been following Josin McQuein’s things since I saw one of her query letters up on Query Shark. I’m not a big dystopians but I am going to have to pick this book up. I know the girl can write. Plus, I’m really excited about her next book: PREMEDITATED. It sounds amazing. Great review!

    • tonya

      I love that we’re able to follow debut authors’ journeys on social media now. It makes reading their work feel so much more intimate when you know how long it took them to get to that point.

      I wasn’t sold on PREMEDITATED’s blurb, but I think I’ll be giving it a shot since I enjoyed ARCLIGHT so much!

  15. Em

    The cover of this book is beautiful. I don’t know if I’m sold yet on it or not :/

    • tonya

      The cover is lovely, isn’t it? Perhaps you can request from your library when it’s released to give it a whirl without committing. :)

  16. Michelle Morris

    So I’ve been wanting to read this book, but as soon as I read, “Well, Arclight by Josin McQuein kind of… does. It’s got the dystopian feel of Divergent, the King creep-factor, and a serving of government experiment gone horribly wrong courtesy of Cronin,” I had to move it up on my to-read list. I’m really, really excited for the release of this one! Thanks for the great review :)

  17. Sea Glass

    I’m surprised to say that this is the first time I’m hearing of this book, but it sounds like an interesting read. Probably a “get from library, but not buy” one for me. Thanks for the review!

    • tonya

      I haven’t heard much buzz about it either, but I think that’s likely to change when it’s released. It really is a very refreshing addition to the dystopian genre.

  18. Ashley Rogers

    Sign me up for this release! This book sounds amazing! WOW! I cannot wait for April to roll around. I am really excited to see the guest post with the author post on here! Thanks so much for sharing this review with us! This is one of the books I will def be looking forward to reading.

  19. Micheline D

    I’ve been quite curious about this once since I first heard about it, but I always cringe when a synopsis references other well-loved authors or works – it tends to set the bar quite high and sometimes (often) it doesn’t live up to the hype. I’m thrilled this one did because the premise sounds really intriguing! Really glad you enjoyed this one :)

    • tonya

      I totally agree. I try not to even read them if possible, because it always sets my expectations way too high. I was so relieved when Arclight met its mark! It may be a first for me, haha.

  20. Molli Moran

    Usually I’d be VERY wary of those comparisons, simply because those authors are heavy-hitters in their genres. But to say that this book does somewhat compare is awesome!

    I’m a little weary of series and dystopian/futuristic in general, so while I think I’ll hold off on reading this one for right now, I am glad to see a positive review, and that the book still held some surprises! :)

    Molli | Once Upon a Prologue

    • tonya

      I can’t blame you for the dystopian series exhaustion, but in ARCLIGHT’s favor, it’s a standalone. (As far as I know… no mention of a sequel from the author, and it has a full conclusion.)

  21. Amy

    Ugh! I hate it when books are compared to other books or authors. It drives me crazy. This is coming up on my list soon and I am really excited for it. It sounds really interesting. Admittedly, the original reason I wanted to read it was because the cover is awesome. I’m glad that it was enjoyable. Great review!

    • tonya

      That cover is fantastic. And as someone who’s been burned countless times by pretty cover fraud, I’m happy to report that the inside is just as cool as the outside.

    • tonya

      Oh, yay! I love introducing people to new titles. Only a little bit over a month to wait!

  22. Nikki

    If this one actually does live up to Roth, King and Cronin than it’s a MUST READ for me! It’s hard to successfully combine this many genres (sci-fi, horror, dystopia), but it sounds like McQuein really rocked it out. I love books that leave you in a state of constant questioning, whether it be the character’s motivations or the plotline. So excited for this one!

    • tonya

      I think I changed my opinion about certain characters’ intentions two or three times throughout the story. I loved that it kept me on my toes! I hope you like as much as I did. :)

  23. Blythe Harris

    I should be starting this one soon, I’m glad to see you enjoyed this, and even more glad to hear that it lives up to the creep-factor of Stephen King. King is my favorite author of all time, so saying that it like the highest praise ever. And I just recently finished this author’s PREMEDITATED and thought it was fantastic, so I have incredibly high hopes for this one. Thanks for the review!

    • tonya

      I just saw PREMEDITATED is out this year as well. To be honest the blurb didn’t quite grab me, but I think I’ll be giving it a shot based on my response to ARCLIGHT.

  24. Go Flash Go - Read, Rinse, Repeat

    I have not yet grown tired of post-apocalyptic/dystopian novels; these are still my favorite genres. I’m pleased to hear that the King/Passage/Hunger Games comparisons were not overblown.


    • tonya

      I may say I’m tiring of the genre, but that doesn’t stop me from snatching every new offering up as soon as I can. Glutton for punishment, I suppose. ;) I hope you like ARCLIGHT as much as I did!

  25. Melissa

    Okay, so I love Divergent, I love creepy gothic and horror novels, and I haven’t read Justin Cronin yet, so I can’t speak to that. Still two out of three isn’t bad, and I have been hearing a lot of buzz about this title. May just have to check it out.

  26. Bookworm1858

    Wow-I’m impressed to hear that the comparisons are actually pretty apt this time. I remember reading a book last year where the author was compared to Sarah Dessen and while that author may reach that level eventually, the debut was not there yet but that comparison stuck in my mind and was the main thing I thought of.

    • tonya

      I know what you mean. I try not to pay attention to those comparisons because they inevitably disappoint me. Let’s face it, nothing will ever be the “next Hunger Games” but in this case the comparisons were actually pretty spot on.

    • tonya

      I haven’t either. When I was in middle school I lived off Stephen King and Dean Koontz, but as I got older I became more and more of a wimp. Still, the atmosphere in ARCLIGHT reminded me a bit of the old days. ;)


    I cringed when i read the book was compared to the likes of Veronica Roth and Stephen King, i’m not a fan of when books or anuthors are compared to other authors. But after your review im starting to think I might give this one a shot, it also just got optioned for a film :)
    Great review!

    • tonya

      I’m not a fan either. I understand from a marketing standpoint, but it seems to bring inevitable disappoint for me.

      Someone else just mentioned the film news. I can definitely see it working well in that format. I hope they move forward with it!

  28. Caroline M. Sugarman

    This is one I definitely will read. I loved Cronin’s The Passage and have enjoyed many of the Stephen Kings I’ve read. I do hope the movie version will do this book justice. Thanks for the review, Tonya.

  29. Caroline M. Sugarman

    This is one I definitely will read. I loved Cronin’s The Passage and have enjoyed many of the Stephen Kings I’ve read. I do hope the movie version will do this book justice. Thanks for the review, Tonya.

    • tonya

      Oh, is there a movie deal already? That’s exciting! I can definitely see this working well as a film. It would be so creepy to see the Fades “in the flesh” though.

    • tonya

      Yay! I’m so glad. The cover is awesome, isn’t it? I hope you enjoy it as much as I did. :)

  30. bebecald

    I too have been a bit burned out from dystopian but looks like there may be hope yet with a more original concept. Will definitely be looking for this book come April!

    • tonya

      I hope this one rekindles your interest in the genre! It definitely refreshed my palate. :)

  31. Kelly

    I’m so EXCITED that you enjoyed this one! The cover is awesome, the blurb sounds great and the concept seems slightly refreshing – so I’m so happy to hear that it is as good as it looks! I was a little wary of the name-dropping too, but it sounds like I don’t need to worry :)

    • tonya

      It was SO refreshing to read! And while I love a good ass kicking heroine, I appreciated that Marina remained a little vulnerable (though never weak) throughout it. I’m a little wary of the fearless, warrior girl to be honest.

      I hope you enjoy!

  32. starryeyedjen

    I love a good book that toes the line between good and evil rather than clearly defining it. I have this one and now I’m even more excited to get to it. I’m so glad it bring something different to the table…and combines two great elements while doing so.

    • tonya

      That was one of my favorite things about it; that it was differences that divided them rather than true good or evil. really interesting read!

  33. Mary @ BookSwarm

    You’re right — that’s setting the bar pretty high to compare it to Stephen King (and I always feel bad for the author when that kind of tagline appears on their book…it’s just *too* much) but how awesome is it that this book captures the King creep-factor?!? This sounds really good — I’m going to have to add it to my wishlist.

    • tonya

      Yes! I don’t know if it was *scary* per se, but definitely shivers up my spine creepy. At one point I had to put it down and do something else, haha.

  34. Wendy Darling

    I an SO looking forward to reading this book! I read the first couple of chapters and I’m already hooked. :) I’m so glad you enjoyed it, Tonya. I like the idea of a combo of Roth + King + Cronin.

    • tonya

      I love that it drew me in right away; I hate slogging through the first few chapters without really knowing how I feel about it.

  35. Keertana

    FINALLY! Another good sci-fi/dystopian! I’ve been avoiding them all like the plague because of a string of disappointments, but onto my TBR this goes! Great review, Tonya! :D

    • tonya

      Yes! I’ve been waiting for a good one awhile. I hope you enjoy as much as I did!

  36. Alexa Y.

    This one sounds pretty interesting, I’ve got to say. I’m intrigued by the comparisons (although I’d agree that they’re a little intimidating!) so I may just have to check this out.

    • tonya

      Haha, dystopianitis is a great term. I’ve been feeling the same way. Seemed like everything on Edelweiss this go-round had the same theme, didn’t it? But I was very pleasantly surprised by it.

    • tonya

      It was definitely one of the most interesting post-apocalyptics I’ve read in awhile!