Princess Leia Reviews Arclight by Josin L. McQuein

(This entire blog post will be written from Leia’s perspective. The views represented in this post are not necessarily supported by Sci-fi Characters Review Sci-fi books, except that they totally are because this is basically the written form of ventriloquism. Oh, and no Ewoks were neglected in the making of this review. Enjoy.)

I’m not used to speaking to a blogging audience. Usually I am buttering up politicians or trying to speak on behalf of the rest of the galaxy when said politicians are more worried about the fate of their public image than that of the galaxy they represent. But sometimes it is good to unwind and read for pleasure, and why not share it with the rest of you?

I initially picked up Arclight by Josin L. McQuein because I found a sort of similitude with the plot. There is a focus on the light and the dark, as well as the gray areas in between. I often think of myself as a gray area, a bridge between light and dark because of my heritage and my absolute need to do what is right for the galaxy. What Arclight offered was a similar situation, that is, in a way, flipped.

Marina–the girl who was found on the outskirts of what people call the Dark–is that same type of bridge. She lives in the Arclight as the only known survivor of the Fade, chameleon-type creatures which thrive on the darkness and are even brought to pain by bright light. Because she doesn’t remember her past, and since she is a living abnormality, she is welcome into this sanctuary with hopeful hesitation. She feels a constant, lingering guilt for the people she is told were lost in her rescue, but eventually develops a romantic relationship with the son of one of those lost. She is a decent enough character, at least believable enough. Without memories of her past life and with the strangeness of her appearance, she struggles a lot with her identity and sense of belonging. She relies much more on the comforts of a boy than I would have, but maybe things would have been different for me if I too hadn’t known where and whom I came from.

I struggled a bit with the ever-present cliches apparent in the novel. Romance can serve its purpose–obviously–but it becomes the driving force behind much of the story’s plot and action. Without romance, most of what occurred would not have. It is a subtle force, but it is still very encompassing. A love-triangle represents itself partway through the book, the plot twist wasn’t at all surprising–for me, at least, but I’ve been on the side of thinking you are one thing (or someone’s child), and then being blindsided by the truth. I can seen the signs early on–, and while lessons were learned and wrongs mended as best as they could be in the end, the finality of it left much to be desired. It didn’t feel like as much of a great change or a cataclysmic shift as the story intended it to be.

The Fade made this book worthwhile. In my galaxy there are many creatures; some misunderstood, some brutalized without cause, some respected and others rejected for stereotypes or sometimes even appearance. The Fade have a depth that is freely explored in this novel, and many of the stereotypes surrounding them are explored. I thoroughly enjoyed getting to know their unique species, and to understand their origins and purposes.

Sometimes the light and the dark aren’t as black-and-white as we make them out to be, and McQuein explores that concept through a lot of imagery, symbolism, and truth. Knowing what I know of the force and feeling it flow through me the way it does, I can relate to that. There is a fine line between the dark side and the light side, but no individual is every truly one or the other, and what we believe to be darkness can sometimes manifest into light.

3.5 stars out of 5. Good, but certainly could have been better.

Thank you for giving me the time and reading this short review. I’m certain if Han ever finds out I did this he will tease me endlessly for it. Getting that man to read a book would be about as easy as getting C-3PO to stop jabbering. In a perfect galaxy…

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