Author: Josin L. McQuein
Genre: Science fiction, YA, dystopia
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
I'd heard so many good things about this book, so I had really high expectations for it. I did like the story, but I was left with a little disappointment because it wasn't quite as amazing as I'd hoped.
One thing that this novel has going for it is the very unique world. There are nano-engineered creatures called the Fade who inhabit the dark. The humans live in a dome of light - the Arcight - that keeps the darkness and the Fade at bay. Everyone knows that you won't survive if you go out into the darkness - the Fade will get you, and turn you into one of them, and you will no longer bleed red. Yet, Marina has done just that. She doesn't understand how she survived, and all the other children look at her with distrust and venom; after all, many of their parents were lost to the Dark when they went out of the Arclight to save her. The novel focuses on Marina's struggle to understand how she survived and why she alone understands the Fade.
As I mentioned above, the world-building was amazing and very unique. I loved the concept of the Fade, and their earnestness coupled with their predatory assaults made them at turns equally frightening and endearing. There is a sinister pulse throughout the novel, largely due to the mysteries surrounding the Fade and their connection to Marina. I really liked these aspects of the novel, but the characters really fell flat for me.
Marina, the main character, was so in the dark (pardon the expression) and uncertain about her identity and what she wanted to find out that she never really took full form to me. She always remained a shadowy character, and I couldn't root for someone I didn't connect with. Tobin was equally shadowy because he would flip from kindness to coldness for almost no reason at all. The adults were hardly present, and while it is hinted at that the primary antagonist had a tortured backstory, it wasn't fully fleshed out. I generally felt like all the characters were just impressions of people, and the only reason I kept reading was because I thought the concept of the Fade was really interesting (Oh the irony of human beings blending together while the hive mind creatures hold up their individuality).
This wasn't a bad book, but I don't think I'll be sticking around for the sequel.