Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

Arclight

Arclight

Josin L. McQuein
Fiction  Series
For ages 13 and up
HarperCollins, 2013   ISBN: 978-0062130143

Generations ago humans created nanites that they hoped would help them make big advances in medicine. The nanites were injected into human bodies, and the plan was that the tiny machines would repair any damage that they found. For a while this worked, but then the nanites, which were sentient, could no longer be contained. They took over the world, and they took over the human beings they encountered. The nanites became the Fade, and now they live in the Dark.

A small community of humans has managed to create a safe haven for themselves in Arclight, a settlement that offers some degree of safety because of the bright lights that shine on and around it. The Fade cannot abide light and heat, and thus they tend to stay away from Arclight.

  Humans who go out into the Grey or the Dark never return to their homes and yet one human, who was found beyond the boundaries of Arclight, did survive and her name is Marina. Marina has no memory of where she came from or how she came to be in the Grey. No one in Arclight seems to know why the Fade did not consume Marina, and for this reason most of the Arclight residents choose not to interact with her.

   One day the Fade infiltrates Arclight and a battle takes place. Marina and the other teens and children are sent to a bunker and locked in. By the time they emerge Marina has formed a kind of friendship with Tobin, the boy whose father died in the Grey when he was trying to rescue Marina. Later, when another Fade gets into Arclight, Marina, with the help of Tobin and some other teens, manages to capture the Fade, who is taken into custody. Suddenly Marina goes from being a pariah to being a hero.

   Marina and Tobin go to see the Fade, who is being held captive in an underground containment room, and Marina discovers that the Fade can communicate with her. She can hear its voice in her head and she begins to get a sense of what the Fade is like. Some time later this same Fade escapes from captivity and it comes for Marina, taking her out of Arclight, through the Grey, and into the Dark. Marina gets to know the Fade a little and she calls him Rue. She learns that he did not come into Arclight to get her. Rue came to retrieve his mate, Cherish, who is being kept captive in Arclight somewhere. Rue clearly fells lost without Cherish. Marina has no idea where Cherish is being kept, and doesn’t understand why Rue thinks she can help him locate his missing love.

   As they travel, Marina begins to appreciate that Rue is an individual, an “I,” but he is also part of a bigger community. He is also a “We” and the other Fade are always with him, sharing their thoughts and their emotions with him, mind to mind. He is a part of “the hive” and finds it hard to understand why any human would want to be so alone, existing as an I.

   Rue takes Marina to a place where several Fade are living in the ruins of human homes, and there she discovers something about herself that rocks her to her core. It would appear that the Fade are not monsters, and the humans are not the heroes.

   All too often we humans choose to demonize our enemies, and we get so caught up in our hatred and fear that we cannot see what is in front of our eyes. In this book the author explores this idea in a creative and compelling way, showing us, through Marina’s eyes, how people who are in survival mode can change over time and turn into something that is dark and ugly.

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