I feel like I’m a little late to the party, since this book has been out for about ten month already (in hardcover and Kindle; a paperback edition is coming in March 2014), but this is a book I really like and can recommend: Arclight by Josin L. McQuein.
Yes, it’s another YA future-dystopia book, in which preceding generations have screwed things up for everyone, but hey, can’t we all relate to that just a little bit? Plenty of room for one more, I say — if it’s a good one.
Arclight has an inventive premise: nanotech (nanites in the book) has gotten loose in the world generations ago, creating vast uninhabitable swathes of Dark and infecting humans, turning them into Fade, creatures with superhuman strength and other more mysterious powers, who have an aversion to bright light. Most of the story takes place in what may be humanity’s last refuge, Arclight: a compound surrounded by high-powered lights that keep the darkness — and therefore the Fade — at bay.
Marina, the heroine, has no memory prior to being rescued out in the Gray (kind of a demilitarized zone) by a team from Arclight. The other teens in the compound view her with distrust and some outright hostility. When the Fade attack the compound and several people are infected, the humans realize just how vulnerable they are, and Marina realizes that the grown-ups haven’t told her or anyone the whole story of her rescue or what they know of the Fade. The enemy has sought her out; now she needs to seek them out to learn the truth of her existence and the war between humans and Fade.
The thing I liked best about this book was its moral complexity: there are no purely good or bad guys, as it turns out, and characters’ motivations are many-layered and sometimes conflicting. Everything is a lot more complicated than it appears. There’s a love story and lots of action. Marina is courageous but not invincible; in fact, she is painfully aware of her weaknesses and must learn to work around them to do what needs to be done to protect herself and the people she loves. She is brave despite being broken.
One good thing about waiting until now to read the book: it’s only less than two months until Meridian, the sequel, comes out. Learn more at Josin L. McQuein’s blog.