New YA Book Reviews

Arclight (Arclight, #1)

 I absolutely loved both Arclight and Eleanor & Park, which I read at the same time (one at work and one at home). Though I had to take Eleanor & Park home to finish. Because feelings.

Arclight is Josin L. McQuein’s debut novel, but she is already a master of YA dystopian/romance fiction. A master, I tell you. Her novel is the story of Marina, a girl who is rescued from The Dark. Yes, with the capital D. The Dark is the post-apocalyptic danger-land outside of the Arc, which is a haven perpetually lit by the brightest lights known to man. The lights are needed to protect the settlement from the Fade: creepy-scary-shape-changing monsters that break in and steal the Arclight’s people, then turn them into more Fade’s. There’s nothing worse than your people being turned into the very monsters you might one day kill – or be killed by.

Marina is treated as an outcast, and she feels like one-she has no memory of who she was before she was rescued, if her family is alive or dead, if they even loved her, and no one is revealing any secrets to her. When she helps to capture a rogue Fade Marina inadvertently starts a chain of events that will lead to her following that Fade into the Dark to discover secrets about her life, her friends, and the Arclight that she never thought possible.

Arclight is an exciting story, with twists and turns through the Dark and the Arc, leading you to surprises about the dystopian world, its characters, and its future that. . .you really might figure out before the end. Okay, it is a little predictable, but in a way it is really reassuring, because if I know who the girl is going to end up with and that she’s going to want to save the world I won’t be disappointed at the end, and I know there will be a sequel. Marina comes off as a bit whiny, but I suspect teens won’t notice because she might sound like them – doubtful, worried, anxious. Overall it was a great book and I’m looking forward to the sequel!

Eleanor and Park

This was something completely different. This is for fans of John Green and David Levithan, for people who want contemporary and real and honest fiction. For readers who want to feel ripped apart and sewn together and crushed and reborn all over again.

Okay, maybe that was a little melodramatic, but this book is pretty intense, in an amazing way. I absolutely loved it. It was sweet, funny, honest, cruel, and true to the life of every teenager in high school ever. It will appeal to adults just as much as teens, especially those who went to school in the 80s. The pop culture references don’t make it a generation-specific story, however. The drama of Eleanor & Park can really appeal to anyone. Their relationship is so awkward, hesitant, rushed and intense all at once. It is mostly honest. And oh so very real.

So if you can’t hear the word Okay without a small piece of your heart crumbling, go read this book right now. The rest will crumble too. But it’ll be okay, I promise.

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