Author: Josin L. McQuein
Rating: DNF/2 Stars
Release Date: April 23rd, 2013
Aesthetically pleasing and well-written, Arclight is not a bad book. McQuein's debut - for this releases before her other novel set to release this year as well - is, in fact, a rather interesting tale that promises to be loved, appreciated, and well-received by lovers of dystopian. As a fan of this genre myself, I expected to love Arclight. Unfortunately, having tried - and failed - to read through the entirety of this novel, it is time for me to admit that Arclight and I are simply not suited for one another. In other words, I fear I have to resort to a rather typical break-up cliche: it's not you, it's me.
Arclight takes place in a world, a futuristic one, where creatures known as the Fade prowl in the dark. As such, humanity is safe only in the light, cowering from the Fade who are bound to kill them. Only Marina is known to have survived a Fade attack and even her memory is sketchy. When our novel begins, the Fade are attacking once again, eager for the girl who escaped them, but afraid of her as well. In the midst of this is Tobin, whose father died protecting Marina from the Fade, along with many other adults. Tobin, however, takes it upon himself to protect Marina and before long, a strange relationship is struck between the two, all while they must struggle to save themselves and protect their societies.
Quite simply put, Arclight is not quite as original as it seems. If anything, the society in McQuein's novel is eerily similar to that of the one in Enclave by Ann Aguirre. You have Fade who are dragging people away? OH, those sound an awful lot like vampires now, don't they? You have humans, battling for survival and fighting off these Fade? OH, don't you mean humans battling off vampires? Essentially, the Fade can very easily be equated with vampires, which renders this novel as unique as a blade of grass. Which is not a lot. Yet, perhaps this could have been overlooked if the characters were interesting, but Marina, our main character, completely lacks personality. Not only is her narration dull if there isn't any dialogue to take up space, but she is very one-dimensional and detached from the reader. Furthermore, the world-building takes up the span of one chapter towards the beginning and proceeds to info-dump like there's no tomorrow. And, to make things worse, there is apparently a love triangle in this. While I have heard it isn't all that bad, I, for one, am not sticking around to find out. Especially when one of the love interests has already lost my interest.
Arclight is the type of novel I would have persevered through just last year, only to pass it along as being "meh." With my busy schedule this year, though, and a severe lack of time to read, I cannot afford to waste it on something I know I will dislike. I do encourage every lover of dystopian to give this one a shot, though. If, like me, you don't feel much attachment within the first ten chapters, at least you didn't waste too much time. Chances are, though, that most readers will love this tale. After all, in a genre overrun by re-used ideas, most people are used to this by now and far more tolerant of this than I am. Meanwhile, I'll be off searching for the next novel I can genuinely stamp the title "unique" upon.
Title: Burn Bright (Night Creatures, #1)
Author: Marianne de Pierres
Rating: DNF/2 Stars
I feel like I've reached that stage in my life where I need to see a neurologist. Clearly, there is something wrong with my brain because I could have sworn before cracking the spine of this one that I would love it. And, honestly, this is happening a lot. I pick up a book with a great premise - one that I love - and that book happens to be one that my most trusted friends have also loved. I start the book and BAM! my brain just shuts off, refuses to connect with the characters, and my attention wanders. I keep thinking about the other books I could be reading with my time. I keep waiting for the book to pick up its pace. I keep waiting, that is, until I decide to abandon the book altogether.
Burn Bright has been one of my most sought-after and eagerly-looking-forward-to books for the past year. As an Aussie fantasy debut, there's little that can go wrong with it and, frankly, it lived up to my expectations of it. From the start, Burn Bright is unusual, different, and compelling. Retra, our heroine, is embarking to Ixion, a land of partying and perpetual night, to find her brother. Even from page one, Retra is the type of protagonist I love; strong, courageous, but vulnerable too. As someone who has lived her life in a strict regime of rules, breaking them is painful, but her love for her brother forces her to travel to Ixion.
Ixion, however, is as strange as you can imagine. Nudity, drinking, sex, and drugs are all encouraged, with the backdrop of night. Yet, there are dark secrets in this town as well with people being dragged off once they became too old for the carefree lifestyle that Ixion provides, not to mention other sinister characters. Now, despite the unrealistic atmosphere this book takes on, I really did love it. Ixion reminds me a lot of Shyness (from Leanne Hall's This is Shyness), only of a more crazier variety. And I can deal with crazy, especially if it means an honest portrayal of desire and character growth.
Yet, for all its good qualities, Burn Bright is slow. I finished a quarter of the book before Retra finally reaches Ixion - after a very boring boat ride, mind you - and despite her will to find her brother, Retra repeatedly refuses to attempt to fit in with the strange Ixion lifestyle. Which is fine. But, even though I never found Retra to be irritating, I never formed a connection with her either until, after a short time, I simply could not care. Even more than Retra, though, I was unable to warm-up to her quest for her brother or the security she felt with certain friends in Ixion. All in all, I think I needed a better understanding of these characters. You see, throwing a bunch of unique personalities in a strange realm probably works for a lot of readers, but I desperately need some bond between myself and the characters for me to feel invested in their adventures. And sadly, that was missing. At the end of the day, this is simply a clear-cut case of it's-not-you-it's-me. It looks like Marianne de Pierres as I will be going our separate ways after all; she, to more successful writing endeavors, and me to the neurologist I promised I'd see.