This is a book that is actually two stories in one. Literally. And while I'll get into that later in more detail, "Arclight", even while being a two-f...moreThis is a book that is actually two stories in one. Literally. And while I'll get into that later in more detail, "Arclight", even while being a two-fer in terms of what we get in entertainment value, is a dazzling debut that really can't be missed. This is some of the best high concept YA in the survival/dystopian/apocalyptic genre I've read in awhile, and I'm definitely looking forward to the sequel. If you're looking for a legitimately scary thriller, "Arclight" is your book.
My biggest problem with this book: the fact that there is no bridge between the two halves of the book at one of the most important parts of the story, between opening and climax. "Arclight", in ARC form, anyway, misses a crucial transition and left me going "wait, what?" because of Marina's whiplash-worthy decision that literally changes the direction of the book. If there was a transition, I missed it. And usually, this would be a point where I'd DNF it and give the book to another friend or reviewer, but because of the pure quality of McQuein's prose, I was still riveted, even if I did have to reread the transition-less area of the book a few more times before I could really wrap my head around everything.
Thus, that's why I call this book a two-fer. Literally two books in one, due to one crucial missing transition.
But the rest was excellent - though I could have done without the semi-kind-of-author-couldn't-quite-decide love triangle. More on that later. First the awesome - the worldbuilding and characters. You can feel the intensely paranoid tension of this environment with each page, each chapter - which is something that is incredibly hard to do. While the characters don't seem very deep, their actions as Marina tells her story and the story of the humanity post-Fade, help deepen them. We don't get a great backstory into each, only into the most important of the main cast. And even then, it's still pretty brief (exception being Marina and how her backstory unfolds in the second half of the story), yet it's enough. We get a good sense of pretty much all of the main cast, and thus, of the world, thanks to this minimalist focus on character building in favor of building the world and its backstory more. Which I'd usually wag my finger at, but in this case, it worked and worked beautifully.
McQuein's narrowing of the world solely to that of the Arclight, the Grey, and the Dark was a brilliant move. Through our exploration along with Marina and co of the Arclight, we find out more of the backstory, which helps build the characters, which helps build the world - in a (mostly) positive feedback loop. I found it impressive, to say the least, and even in ARC form (even with the faulty transition), pretty nicely polished.
As for the backstory of how the Fade came to be, I wanted more. But since this is the first in at least a duology, it looks like, I got more or less enough to work with. What I did want was a little less of me having to do math (counting years since the Fade incidents initially happened in terms of "great-grandparents"), and a little more of a hint in those newspaper clippings found in the book. I do think McQuein was playing with us a bit in terms of asking what the true amount of time had passed between the amount of "great grandparents" and Honoria's account, which mentions no real passage of time within years but has a lot of biological flags in terms of her scars. I hope in book two we get a more solid idea of time, since the Fade aren't really rooted in a sense of time and can't tell us (or won't tell us) how much time has passed since they gained control.
Lastly the love triangle - it felt like McQuein couldn't quite make up her mind as to have one, so it was a bit...well, confusing - even to Marina herself. While I love the idea of an unreliable narrator (and Marina turns out to be a great one), the romance area really needed work, and I hope it gets that work pre-pub. Or maybe in book two. But hey, at least there was no instalove. And I think we can all rejoice in that.
Otherwise? This is an absolutely wonderful debut, and had the faulty transition thing not happened? Would be on my best of 2013 list. However - it's pretty damned close to being part of that best of 2013. This book is a lot of fun, and will make you feel a little more paranoid when you hear about the latest scientific advances in medicine. Just a bit.
"Arclight" is out from HarperTeen April 23, 2013 in North America, so definitely be sure to check it out when you get the chance. So much fun, and I can't wait for book two!
(posted to goodreads, shelfari, and birthofanewwitch.wordpress.com)(less)
Only one essay in here that includes the TV show. Kinda disappointed with that but otherwise a really good collection of essays regarding the franchis...moreOnly one essay in here that includes the TV show. Kinda disappointed with that but otherwise a really good collection of essays regarding the franchise and philosophy.(less)
I had high hopes for this one - but I'm afraid it's another case of cover seduction and blurb envy. While Anastasiu has a great hold on s...more1.5/5 stars.
I had high hopes for this one - but I'm afraid it's another case of cover seduction and blurb envy. While Anastasiu has a great hold on sensory language and imagery, that's about all that I could appreciate about this one. While I realize it may be aimed toward younger readers, this one just didn't particularly stand out against the onslaught of dystopian books that's been flooding the YA market within the past few years. Sadly, this one just wasn't for me.
So, the good part: sensory language and imagery. Anastasiu does a pretty good job with relating to the reader how very bleak and grey it is within the world of the Link/Community - and the difference when she "glitches" and sees color, feels texture, tastes things, and so forth. Parts of it felt a bit like the MC was experiencing synesthesia, which I always love seeing in books because the descriptions can be pretty epic. Whilst the descriptions here didn't reach epic proportions, they were still pretty great. And this is what saved the book from getting a negative star rating.
For the parts that just weren't for me: insta-love, yet another love triangle that felt forced, a lot of stilted dialogue, poor to non-existent worldbuilding, and a lot more telling than showing. We get a semi-decent backstory as to why the Link/Community was created, but it just wasn't detailed enough as it should have been. All of it was just startlingly lackluster next to other YA dystopians that have been released this year - many of which were absolutely fantastic.
In short, this one probably needed another few drafts before going to press to smooth out the technical issues in the dialog and worldbuilding areas, but it just wasn't for me. A huge let-down, I'm sad to say.
Final verdict? If you're already a more experienced reader in the YA dystopian genre, you might want to avoid this one. I wouldn't exactly recommend it for young readers getting started in the genre, either. But that's just how I see it. "Glitch" is out from St. Martin's Griffin on August 7th in North America, so be sure to check it out then. Give it a read and decide for yourself.
(posted to goodreads, shelfari, and birthofanewwitch.wordpress.com)(less)