Author: Josin L. McQuein
Release Date: April 23, 2013
Publisher: Greenwillow Books (HarperCollins imprint)
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 being to unlock secrets she didn't even know she had.
Arclight is a thrilling exploration into light, into darkness, and into a fear of the unknown. Eerie, mysterious, and intense, this complicated and frightening future holds the story of a mysterious girl as she questions her origins. Not knowing who she is or where she came from, she searches for answers, and somehow becomes wrapped up in the truth behind the Arclight, the Fade, and the Dark.
Questions surround Marina as soon as the book starts. Who is she? Where did she come from? Why do most of the people around her hate her? She's literally wounded and battered, limping around in this strange complex. She's frightened, but more frightened of where she came from, more curious about her origins, more upset that her memories are missing.
The creations of the author, the Arclight, the Dark, and the Fade, are haunting, frightening, and intriguing. This is a dark future where danger hides in shadow and only the Arclight and its massive glow will keep the remaining human population safe. But what are the Fade? Are they merely sick humans exposed to a terrible disease?
In a number of ways, this is a book about loss. Marina has lost everything from before she was found by those under the Arclight. Others have lost countless family members and friends. Everyone has lost their way, blinded by too much light, unable to see what's truly happening, what's really out in the world.
Connection is also important, the bonds that keep people close. Marina, yes, is connected to those in the Arclight, but there is also a curious connection to the Fade that she doesn't understand. It's all about coming together, discovering your true self, and figuring out where you belong.
The Arclight is curious, it protects but also inhibits. The remaining humans are trapped, the light giving them only so much room for movement. It keeps them from what they fear, the Fade and the Dark, but it also holds them hostage. They are afraid of what lies beyond, of what else exists out in the world, and of what is yet to be discovered.
This book started like a shock, like a spark, and didn't let up. It's a book I was welcome to come across, a glimpse into a different sort of future where bright lights protect but also restrain and stunt growth, a future where darkness is dangerous while it hides so many important pieces of knowledge. Like the truth behind everything.
(I acquired an advance copy of this book at ALA Midwinter.)