Josin L. McQuein
Series: Untitled, #1
Release Date: April 23rd, 2013
Publisher: Greenwillow Books
Number of Pages: 400
Star Rating: 4 stars
Word Rating: Terrifying
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.Whether it be in books or film, it generally takes quite a bit to scare me. Now, I know I've gone over what scares me in horror before, so instead of reiterating my entire tangent on how subtlety in horror is more effective and ominous than anything else, I'm just going to say that Arclight managed to freak me out.
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?
Josin McQuein has the entire 'subtlety in horror' concept down, and the monsters in Arclight--the Fades--are eerie and horrifying in every sense of the word. But, at the same time, McQuein has given us readers a side of the Fade that, while malevolent and spine-tingling, is also breathtakingly human and emotional. The Fades that McQuein has created are such incredibly complex creatures, and the ambiguity of the Fades themselves is just as chilling and horrifying as their actions and features, if not more.
And as for complexity and chilling ambiguity, the same goes for the wonderfully crafted characters in Arclight. At first, all of the characters are mysterious, distant, and cold--even the main character, Marina, who manages to be notably ambiguous throughout a good majority of the novel, despite the fact that the entire novel is told from her point of view. But eventually, as the novel progresses, each of the characters are met with a stunning amount of character development, which, after reading McQuein's Premeditated as well, is something I can now say with certainty this author is excellent at.
As well as that, the world-building, while honestly is a bit confusing and slow-moving, is ultimately captivating and is just as sinister as the Fades. And while I may have lost interest sporadically throughout the first half, the second half picked up the pace immeasurably, with thrilling and shocking revelations towards the end. Fascinating, compelling, and often frightening, Arclight is an incredibly unique dystopian/post-apocalyptic read that should not be missed by fans of original world-building and electrifying horror.