Arclight - Josin L. McQuein Marina was found in the Grey (the world between the dreaded Dark where the Fade live and the safety of Arclight). Now she lives in Arclight unsure of who she is and where she came from. This all changes when a Fade is found in Arclight. Who is the Fade and why can Marina communicate with him?

NOTE: I received this from the Amazon Vine program.

Ever since I heard about this book, I was excited. The story sounded interesting - I love creepy stories about people holed away in a fortress trying to live in a hostile environment. And for a good portion of the book (about 100 pages), I was actually rather enjoying myself. Marina was a great character - a little sarcastic and negative, but never morose and moody. She seemed competent enough and even had a female friend who was also not white (yes, don't faint!). Also, that opening scene was AMAZING! Intense, gripping, nail-biting, edge of your seat exciting - basically everything I like in a thriller. However, the book quickly took a nosedive eventually landing into Big Disappointment.

Before I get into why this book was a huge disappointment to me, let me preface my review with this: the book isn't half bad. I think the biggest reason this is so disappointing to me is the fact that this book is basically like every single other Young Adult science fiction/fantasy/dystopian that has come out in the last 6 months. It's like publishers come up with stories from a Random Story Generator: same plot, same character type, same romantic story, same plot twists, different names.

I know that everything comes from everything else. The Hunger Games wouldn't be popular without 1984 or Brave New World, which wouldn't exist without "We". Terry Brooks, Robert Jordan, and other fantasy writers borrowed heavily from J.R.R. Tolkien. And I think it's a running joke how rubber stamped (some) romances and chick lit can be.

But in every story, I think there is the potential for SOME originality (beyond character names). Maybe it is a new twist on old mythology (Anne Rice' "Vampire Chronicles"). Maybe it is a new way of looking at characters (the rise of the anti-hero). Maybe it is just because an author writes so damned well, it doesn't matter that the book is cliched, you find yourself liking it (the graphic novel "Saga" is a good, good example). The point is that SOMETHING gives that book a kick, which takes it from mediocre, stereotypical and ho-hum into "OMG WOW, this is AWESOME".

At that level, this book failed for me. It failed to have that spark of originality I was hoping for - no, EXPECTING, given the brilliance of the opening chapters. Once again, we have a bland Love Interest, whose only purpose seems to be giving Romantic Conflict to our protagonist. Once again, we have a female friend, who is merely a Goofy Sidekick. Once again, the ONLY ADULT FEMALE in the book turns out to be a bad guy (and yes, I found myself drawn to her character and LIKING her despite what the writing wanted me to do). Once again, the story seems to go in one direction, unique and gripping, and instead boils down to the same plot twists (seen after a few 100 pages of the book) and the same damned conflicts.

There were SO MANY points where this book could have taken the cliches and spun them on their heads. Sure, Marina's secret is pretty obvious, but heading into the Dark could have given deeper revelations, more like what you saw in "Invasion of the Body Snatchers", instead of info-dump after info-dump. The Evil Female could have been proven to be right all along, to the detriment of the colony. There could have been other colonies beyond Arclight, scrabbling to keep a hold. We could have had a story without a stupid Love Triangle (although nowhere near the worst I've ever seen), with more named female characters who do more than clutch their pearls and scream at the bad guys.

And that really sums up why this book, which isn't all that bad, gets 2 stars from me. There was a lot of potential here; a lot of exciting developments. And instead of pursuing those, we get Generic Young Adult Sci-Fi/Dystopian Novel #4758.

If you are up for a slightly creepy read where you will probably figure out the plot twists quickly, then definitely read this book. But if you were hoping for something really different, really compelling, then pass on this book (or at least borrow). As for me, as good as the author's writing may be, I'm giving this series (how can this possibly be a series, it gets pretty much wrapped up in the end?!) a pass.