Monday, April 22, 2013

Mini-Reviews: Arclight by Josin L. McQuein (ARC) & Burn Bright by Marianne de Pierres

Title: Arclight

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.


  1. So bad you didn't finish either of these. I haven't heard for the second one and I think I'll stay away from it. While Arclight is something I've seen and though about before. Sounds really interesting and I'm not sure should I read it or not. From your review it sounds really promising and I like dystopia. I'll see some other reviews. Great reviews :)

  2. You call these mini-reviews, Keertana?! :P It's too bad that Arclight didn't work for you. To be honest, it didn't catch my attention as much as her other book coming out later this year--Premeditated--did. Will you still read that one?

    And you don't need to see a neurologist. Reading tastes are highly flexible, especially when you go through so many books in a short span of time on account of being a bookworm/blogger/reviewer. Don't feel guilty for not being able to like books you thought you should've liked!

  3. Hahaha. My comment is the same as Steph's -- mini reviews?? :) Mandee sent me Burn Bright and most of the reviews I read said the series picks up in Books 2 and 3 so I'll still be giving it a try.

    I'm so with you on dropping books. I think trying to cling to the bitter end contributed to my book slump last year and I don't want a repeat of that this year. I stopped updating goodreads every time I started a book b/c they'd just be sitting on my currently reading shelf. There are too many good books out there to spend time with one that doesn't work for you. :)


  4. Ughh, after seeing all these not so positive reviews for Arclight I think I'll be taking it off my tbr!

    I'm sorry Burn Bright didn't live up to your expectations. While I agree that is was kind of slow I actually ended up really enjoying it. It was different. :)

    Thanks for the honest reviews! ^^

  5. Awww, too bad, Keertana! But you know what you like so don't feel bad! I finished Arclight but I had some problems with it too. I'm still going to read Burn Bright to see what all the fuss is about but knowing that someone disliked it helps to lower my expectations a little. It's a book slump. You'll get out of it soon when that awesome book you've been waiting for comes a long! I'm in one right now too. My last 3 books have all been 3 stars. Blergh.

  6. Neither of these really appeal to me so I will probably end up skipping them, but I am always impressed by how well you know your style and are willing to DNF a book that you don't connect with. I always hope it will happen and keep reading...and reading and then get disappointed when I finish the book and never really loved it. Maybe I'll start skipping to the end and seeing what happens at least? Anyway, these are both very well explained reviews, so thanks for that.

  7. I really need to stop pushing through and finishing bad books, I just have to give them a fair chance before reviewing though. I just read another review for Arclight on Nick's blog, she didn't like it either. The cover totally gives me the creeps, but bad world building and unoriginal are a no go for me.

  8. Hm, Archlight sounds just as unoriginal as I'd assumed it would be, which is VERY disappointing. You're right, the worldbuilding doesn't sound original at all, but rather used and reused many, many times.
    And how disappointing about Burn Bright! Like you, I've been looking forward to it for the longest time but somehow, I'm not convinced I'd like it anymore. The slow pacing would probably end up disappointing me too much.

  9. I was quite disappointed with Burn Bright too Keertana, I think it's the only Aussie novel alongside Night Beach that I've been burned by, which is a shame as the premise was thoroughly entertaining, but didn't do enough to grab my attention. I gave up on the series after the first book too :(

    And Arclight, I'm not really sure that would be my book either! And honestly I wish I was more like you in DNF'ing books, I think I do need to get into this habit more often, especially if I want to tackle my stack! Lovely reviews Keertana! :)

  10. Aw, I'm sorry neither of these worked for you, Keertana! I wasn't particularly interested in Arclight, but the covers of the Night Creatures books were so gorgeous that I was really interested, and the added bonus of it being unavailable in the US for so long made me pretty desperate to read them.

    But...maybe not? Haha, it doesn't seem like Burn Brights was worth all the anticipation.

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

  11. Aw... too bad neither of these worked for you. I did hope more for Burn Bright. I mean look a that cover ( I know, don't judge...) but it just looks like a good dark novel. However, I also need to connect to my characters especially if it goes slow. Too bad it didn't happen. Still so glad you did the reviews. Always good to know why it doesn't work as much as when it does work! :)

  12. This is disappointing to hear that these two hugely hyped/anticipated YA books didn't work out for you so well, Keertana! Good for you in actively deciding to move forward when a book doesn't interest you, though. I'm not sure I'll be able to do that any time soon. I haven't read Enclave, so perhaps that'll help me appreciate Arclight in a better light if I ever get around to reading it. The Burn Bright series does have gorgeous covers - but it also seems like very far-out-there fantasy. I'm not sure how much I'd enjoy it, but I guess I'll do a little more research before I decide for sure.

  13. This is quite sad to see indeed! I've been anticipating Arclight for a long time now, but it's kind of depressing that the dystopian world was so similar to Enclave (which, I have never read). I think if I read Arclight, I would enjoy the concept just because I haven't read Enclave yet. But with boring character voice? That's like reading the mind if someone who's about to fall asleep. Anyhow, I think I may stil pick it up just because it's a review book AND I am a hearty dystopian lover.

    As for Burn Bright, I've heard nothing but great things for this Aussie title! The premise sounds really intriguing, and the characters even more so. But I can see how sometimes you need time to connect with really outrageously unique characters. Glad you gave it a try though!

    Thanks for being so honest in these mini-reviews, now I know what to look out for when I next read these. Fantastic reviews, as always, Keertana!

  14. It's a shame about Arclight! I was really quite curious about it, though I stopped myself from downloading a copy at the time. I'm glad I made that decision now. I think I'm ready to skip it altogether for the time being. I wish you had liked Burn Bright more! I actually really enjoyed it, though I had no idea what it was about before going into it. I still need to finish off that series. Great mini reviews, Keertana! Though I've said this before, your mini-reviews are the same size as my normal ones! ;)

  15. Yeah, I'll admit I wasn't dying to read Arclight, though I was interested, and now I think I'll just wait for the last Enclave book to come out and as long as people are happy with that I'll read that trilogy instead. I'm more bummed to see that you didn't connect with Burn Bright. I admit I'm one of those who's completely in love with the covers for that series, and the premise completely attracts me. I don't think I'll write it off due to your inability to connect, but I'm also not going to go out of my way to get ahold of an the Aussie book. I hope you have better luck with books in the near future, Keertana!


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