Book Report: Our highly scientific analysis of a book, from the characters to the writing style to the swoon. See More...

Don’t Go Into The Dark

Keep a bright flashlight close at hand while reading Josin L. McQuein’s Arclight and Meridian … just in case.

Don’t Go Into The Dark

BOOK REPORT for Arclight and Meridian (Arclight #1 and #2) by Josin L. McQuein

Cover Story: Photo and Photo Negative with a Ravey Twist
BFF Charm: Let Me Love You
Swoonworthy Scale: 4
Talky Talk: She Said and She Said, He Said
Bonus Factor: Faceless Antagonist
Anti-Bonus Factor: Love Triangle
Relationship Status: Uncertain Future

Cover Story: Photo and Photo Negative with a Ravey Twist

Although these covers are thisclose to being Big Face, the fact that the faces are in profile helps some. I really like how well they go together, and the streaks of color—which, I assume, are meant to invoke rays of light—add interest. The streaks on the cover of Arclight I read are also reflective, which is a fun detail you don’t often see.

The Deal:

Marina doesn’t remember much about her past, but she knows that the day she stumbled out of the Dark was an important one. What she was doing out among the shadows, out of the safety of the brightness of Arclight? No one seems to know, least of all her. This lack of knowledge makes her a pariah among the rest of the residents of Arclight, one of the last bastions of humanity against the Fade, a dangerous presence that has taken over most of the Earth. The Fade don’t like the light, but they’ve been getting more and more aggressive in their efforts to break through the humans’ defenses. And with that aggressiveness comes unexpected—and game-changing—answers to Marina’s questions about herself and her past.

BFF Charm: Let Me Love You

Marina is treated poorly by many of the people in her small community. But none of the ill feelings are really her fault; people risked their lives to save her on the day she appeared at the edge of the Dark and went missing because of it. Marina feels terrible about the situation, but it’s kind of ridiculous for anyone to blame her for something she can barely remember. I spent much of Arclight wanting to give her a giant hug. In Meridian, Marina has grown a little, but she’s still an outsider. The girl is smart, savvy and sassy, however, throughout. What’s not to like?

Swoonworthy Scale: 4

Marina has a relationship that both begins and hits roadblocks in Arclight. It’s a sweet relationship that I would have liked to see more of. However, external influences cause rifts in this relationship, and the few mentions of it in Meridian seem almost like an afterthought.

Talky Talk: She Said and She Said, He Said

Arclight is told expressly from Marina’s POV. Through her eyes, we learn about the world Josin L. McQuein has created as she does. For a story about someone with a case of something near amnesia, this slow discovery of the world and the secrets it’s keeping makes a lot of sense. The world of the Arclight and the Dark is place filled with stark contrasts, and McQuein does a great job of describing the differences between the two.

Meridian switches between the POVs of Marina and a boy named Tobin. The addition of Tobin didn’t really do much for me; in fact, I found myself getting confused as to who was “speaking” a lot of the time. Marina’s voice was clear in Arclight, but Tobin’s is far too similar in the sequel to make much of an impact. I don’t think that the insights we gained through his eyes couldn’t have been seen equally as well through Marina’s.

Bonus Factor: Faceless Antagonist

Antagonists are always creepier when you don’t quite know what or who they are. At the start of the series, the Fade are very creepy: formless, shifting creatures made of darkness who want nothing more than to overrun the humans inside Arclight.

Anti-Bonus Factor: Love Triangle

Marina’s relationship issues are, for the most part, caused by another guy. The fact that Marina doesn’t exactly want to be in a love triangle makes no difference—the trope is still annoying.

Casting Call:

Saoirse Ronan from Hanna as Marina

Marina has pale, nearly white blonde hair and ice-blue eyes, so ...

Freddie Rayner as Tobin

Even though he’s not an actor, I think his looks fit the part.

Relationship Status: Uncertain Future

I really liked you on our first date, Book, but as soon as our second date started, my mind started to wander to other things. Your stories during our first meeting were intriguing and suspenseful, but it seemed as though you felt like you needed to one-up yourself during our second meeting, and your stories felt a little flat. I’m not sure if we’ll be seeing each other again, but if we do, I would hope for more of the Book I met at first.

FTC Full Disclosure: I received free review copies of Arclight and Meridian from Greenwillow Books. I received neither a private dance performance from Tom Hiddleston nor money for this review. Both Arclight and Meridian are available now.

Mandy Curtis's photo About the Author: Mandy is a small town girl living in a nerdy world, or—if you want to get literal—an editor/writer living in Austin, TX. In addition to yearning for YA books—the more dystopian or fantastical, the better—she can also be found swooning over superheroes, dreaming of The Doctor and grinning at GIFs.
K