Josin L. McQuein
Source: Finished copy from publisher for review
THE STORY (from Goodreads)
No one crosses the wall of light . . . except for one girl who doesn’t remember who she is, where she came from, or how she survived. A harrowing, powerful debut thriller about finding yourself and protecting your future—no matter how short and uncertain it may be.
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 begin to unlock secrets she didn’t even know she had. Who will Marina become? Who can she never be again?
Readers who enjoy complex mysteries and sci-fi thrillers are in for a treat with this debut YA novel by Josin McQuein. Although this genre would not be my first choice for a read, I found this book to be exceptionally well-written, action-packed and intense. For me, it was the white knuckle kind of intense, complete with several pacing breaks for relief and deep breaths so I could process what I just read.
The words “action packed” are more than apt, as the author catapults the reader into complete confusion for the first few chapters thanks to the very limited information about the situation, characters and setting. Unable to understand or visualize the “who, what, and where’s” left me feeling so very lost. However as the story unravels, this imbalance recedes as the reader slowly begins to comprehend how the character and events connect in their world. This constant state of flux between comprehension and confusion may be deliberate by the author as she builds the rising action and suspense to her story, or it just may be me being slow on the uptake. Either way, it didn’t discourage me in the least from finishing the book, in fact it had the opposite effect, forcing me to consume it at record-breaking speed as it moved from crisis to crisis.
I am a huge fan of character development in any genre, easily becoming totally invested in their emotional, mental and physical well being, and Ms. McQuein did not leave me wanting in her characters, especially Marina, the protagonist and narrator of the novel. As she suffered from amnesia, I sympathized with her continuous struggles in trying to understand who she is through the myriad of voids in her past life. I then marveled at her intelligence, courage and fierce determination to overcome them. The author very s-l-o-w-l-y, but very beautifully, develops Marina’s emotional growth and feelings, as well as honestly and realistically portrays her relationships with fellow teenagers and adults alike.
The secondary characters of Anne-Marie, Tobin, and Rue are not as well defined as Marina, but they are nicely developed and easy to like. The talkative Anne-Marie, who from the onset is Marina’s only friend, not only shields her from the cruelty and disdain of her peers, but also gives her complete allegiance. Tobin is guarded, angry, and resentful–justifiably so as his father gave his life rescuing Marina–but as the relationship between them moves forward he becomes thoughtful, fiercely protective and very loyal. And the sweet, loveable Rue can only be described as simply endearing and the development of his character is brilliant.
However, my absolute favorite in the author’s cast of characters is the Fade, parasitic “monsters” whose bones shift at will enabling them to camouflage into any background. At first, I visualized them as sinister, grotesque, body snatcher-like creatures, but as the Fades evolved, I began to see the unexpected human-like attributes in their features, emotions and ability to communicate. Suffice to say there is more–much more–to these unique characters that captures the imagination and I encourage you to discover them yourselves.
Obviously, I’m truly taken with this original and highly creative novel and would recommend it in a heartbeat. What’s not to like in a novel packed with complicated plot twists, powerful world building, intrigue, a villain, smatterings of an unethical practice and prejudice, all descriptively written? I’d say that’s just about a perfect read.
Personal note: My warmest thank you to Jenny for not only giving me the opportunity to write this review, but also for challenging me and exposing me to read genres beyond my norm, and in this case, comfort zone. Throughout the not-so-easy process of writing (and rewriting) this, I was continuously reminded of her exceptional gift with the written word, amazed that she does so with such confidence and ease, and awed by the sheer number of reviews she produces. You are incredible my Jen!
This book was sent to me by the publisher free of charge for the purpose of a review.
I received no other compensation and the above is my honest opinion.
Because my adorable mom got a little mushy there at the end, I thought I'd share a picture of me and her from this past summer. It was windy, so just ignore our ridiculous hair ;-)