I received this book for free from in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.Arbitrate by Megan Thomason
Series: Daynight #2
Genres: Fantasy, Romance, Young Adult
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It's one year later. And everything has changed.
Remember The Second Chance Institute (SCI). Earth's benevolent non-profit by day, Thera's totalitarian regime by night. They’ve stepped up their game on Earth and on Thera—infiltrating political parties, preying on the downtrodden, and planning offensive maneuvers. And they’re handing out more “second chances” than ever before. The SCI’s abuse of their charter leads to Arbiter oversight and bitter consequences.
Remember Kira Donovan. Broken, burdened, and evading those who wish her harm, Kira enlists the Arbiters’ help when forced to return to the clutches of the SCI and her angry, estranged love.
Remember Blake Sundry. Exiled, determined, and packing an agenda, Blake seeks assistance on Earth and Thera to use his newfound knowledge to bring down the SCI.
Remember Ethan Darcton. Overworked, emotional, and holding a grudge, Ethan hunts down his stolen property, but finds himself in awkward territory, stuck between the Arbiters and the SCI.
Full of action, competing agendas, romantic entanglements, humor, twists and turns, arbitrate is Megan Thomason's third installment in the award-winning daynight series after daynight and clean slate complex (a daynight story).
Arbitrate, the newly released sequel to Daynight by Megan Thomason, is really amazing. It went in a completely different direction than I thought it would, and that was a nice surprise. I won’t say I was always happy about where it went, but in the end, I completely agree with the journey.
This book is much more about action than about the romance. There is still lots of romance, but I’m not going to discuss that because I don’t want to give anything away. What I will talk about is the fact that the SCI continues in their evil ways, but finally someone is standing up to them. The book is on a global scale…even more since the events of this book directly affect every person on Earth and Thera. And we learn more about these mysterious Arbiters, who are finally getting involved in the conflict. We have some amazing character development on Kira, Ethan, Jax, Blake, and we get some major involvement from the Clean Slate Complex characters Alexa and Joshua. This book jumps all around in time with flashbacks and the like so it covers a huge amount of ground. There are also a number of mysteries interwoven into the story and quite a few bits of mythology and meaning behind the world of Thera.
If you read Daynight, will you like this one? I think it depends on what you read Daynight for, and what you got out of it. I will say for myself, I love this book. It is Daynight amplified. It is action, romance, and mystery. It challenges the reader constantly, and it is anything but boring.
Interview with Megan Thomason
Can you talk a little about what the book is about for those who didn’t read Daynight?
That’s a tough one. Reading daynight is definitely a prerequisite to reading arbitrate. The plot and subplots are very complex, and I spent very little to no time rehashing the plot from daynight in arbitrate.
So, to back up…daynight tells the story about Kira Donovan, Blake Sundry, and Ethan Darcton’s interactions with The Second Chance Institute. The SCI is a benevolent non-profit on Earth and totalitarian dictator on Thera. Their motto: Because Everyone Deserves a Second Chance at Life. In reality, the SCI uses those given a “second chance” as subjects in political science experiments like Cleaving—a forced lifetime union between two people who have sex. Punishment for disobeying SCI edicts is Exile or death. Kira is lured into the SCI as a Recruit with the promise she’ll receive a full college scholarship, but finds out she is central to the SCI’s plans. Blake grew up in Exile on Thera and has been trained to infiltrate and destroy the SCI. And Ethan has been groomed since birth to rule the Second Chancers.
arbitrate begins a full year after the events of daynight, and the circumstances have changed dramatically for each of the characters. Kira, one of the main characters, has had to deal with the consequences of everything that happened during daynight and over the past year, and she is broken. She makes decisions that end up impacting everyone she cares about.
arbitrate is told by Kira, Ethan, and Blake in both the present and near past (filling in what happened over the past year). Whereas daynight centered primarily in Garden City, Thera, arbitrate happens across dozens of cities on both Earth and Thera. The Second Chance Institute has well-developed plans for both Earth and Thera, and those in opposition have more challenges than ever to try to defeat them.
What message do you want readers to get from reading the book?
There are consequences for every choice made (good and bad).
How long did it take to write the book?
I started it in February but took a break to write clean slate complex—a daynight novella. All told, I probably spent 3-4 solid months writing and 3+ months editing (with a professional editor and professional proofreaders).
Who is your favorite character, or what character was the most fun to write?
I love comic relief and so, in arbitrate, Jax, Blake, and Joshua were all fun to write in that respect.
Arbitrate seems almost New Adult, whereas Daynight was Young Adult. What is your opinion on the genres you are targeting?
I don’t like “boxes.” If most people think of a dystopia as a “post-apocalyptic society,” I will write something different, throwing in romance, science fiction, and fantasy elements. If there are pre-conceived notions about what you can and cannot do with your main characters, I won’t follow those. To me, overly formulaic equals boring. Until recently, there was no “New Adult” category. Age-wise, yes, arbitrate could be considered “New Adult.” However, a large percentage of New Adult books contain explicit content. arbitrate does not. I let my thirteen-year-old daughter read arbitrate and would not let her read many (if any) New Adult books out there.
Ultimately the love triangle will be solved at some point. Did you ever change who Kira would get together with as you wrote the book, or did you have it set in your mind from the beginning of the series?
Ha ha. I like to think of it as less of a love triangle and more of a love evolution. The fact is, it takes young people a while to know what they want in a life mate. People grow, change, and have defining experiences that impact them.
After writing daynight, I knew how I wanted arbitrate to end and who I wanted Kira to pick. Despite this, I still spent months exploring all the options and imagining different endings. In the end, only one ending worked (the one I originally envisioned). It was right for Kira, the story, and series as a whole. Most early readers have been very happy with it, but I knew that not everyone would be. It is impossible to please everyone in situations such as this. I think, though, by the end of the series that every reader will “get it” and, hopefully, be pleased.
There is some great world building in the series, especially as it pertains to Thera. What influenced your ideas for this?
I came up with the idea for Thera as I was hiking the canyons of San Diego on a particularly hot day. I pondered how hot it would have to get where a society would be forced to switch days and nights (sleep at day and be productive during the nighttime hours). Then I contemplated what kind of government would “rule the night,” and I came up with The Second Chance Institute. Things evolved from there—everything from different lingo (Monnight, Tuesnight, etc.; daygowns instead of nightgowns, etc.), to everything on Thera being switched (water and land). I did a lot of research on what would be needed to combat the hotter weather, water scarcity, and other impacted areas of society.
If you could live in any city on Thera, which one would it be, and why?
I think I’d pick Import/Export City with its Venetian feel and active trade with Earth. It is one of the most Earth-like cities, has normal food, and has decent transportation. The nautical clothing would be a drag though.
What process did you use as you wrote the book? Did you do extensive outlining? Did the book go in any unexpected directions?
I definitely plot. With arbitrate, I wanted to make sure that it was not a rehash of the daynight plot. The tone needed to be different, the characters had to adapt to harsh circumstances and grow from them, and the story arc needed to be fresh. I started with the beginning, ending, and a pivotal scene in the middle. From there I brainstormed for weeks, writing down ideas as they came to me. Then I loosely plotted the entire book. As I wrote and came up with better ideas of the “how,” I adjusted accordingly.
If you could go back and change anything in the novel, what would it be?
Surprisingly, there is nothing in arbitrate that I want to change (at least so far). I love how it all came together. I would go back and change some things about daynight if I could—not the overall plot, but if I had the time, I’d go rework some things.
How did you come up with the cover?
After about a week of thinking on it, the idea came to me. Arbiters are those chosen to judge, mediate, and decide matters at will. The scale of justice came to mind. It fit since the Arbiters are, in arbitrate, bringing down judgment and consequences upon the SCI for the SCI’s acts on both Thera and Earth. The concept also works well with my cover concept for generate, book #3 in the daynight series.
What part of Arbitrate was the most enjoyable for you to write?
The scene that I looked forward to writing the most was one that had a “kiss that wasn’t a kiss.” This “non-kiss” and how it would play out was on my mind for months. So I was thrilled when I finally got to write it. That scene and the last scene are probably my two favorites (though I shed many tears over that last one).
When did you know you wanted to be a writer?
I helped my husband plot and edit a middle-grade book and in the process fell in love with writing. So when I came up with a concept for a teen romantic comedy, my daughters begged me to write it for them and their friends (it turned into a trilogy). Afterwards, I came up with the concept for daynight and have been entrenched in the world of the SCI ever since.
What are you favorite books and authors?
Some of my favorites or books of all time that have had a big impact on me… Pride & Prejudice, Hunger Games, The Hobbit/Lord of the Rings, Crime & Punishment, Anna Karenina, 1984, Brave New World, The Diary of a Young Girl, The Scarlet Letter, Of Mice & Men, and Lord of the Flies.
Recent reads that have stuck out are Making Faces by Amy Harmon, the Bronze Horseman series by Paullina Simons, Red Hill by Jamie McGuire, Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn, The Husband’s Secret by Liane Moriarty, Don’t Make Me Beautiful by Elle Casey, Two Roads by L.M. Augustine, The Sweet Gum Tree by Katherine Allred, In the Stillness by Andrea Randall, the Remember When series by T. Torrest, Take Care, Sara by Lindy Zart, and Hate List by Jennifer Brown.
Will there be a third book in the series, and what are you working on next?
Yes, I have started to plot book #3 in the daynight series and will release it in 2014. I also have two novella spin-offs from arbitrate in mind and two standalone books in the works.
What advice do you have for aspiring authors?
Start by using a program called Scrivener (http://www.literatureandlatte.com). It is cheap and was built for writers. Under no circumstances should a writer try to use Word for writing a book (it doesn’t handle big files or allow changes well). Scrivener allows you to write a book chapter-by-chapter, scene-by-scene. Then it compiles your book into any format you might need (manuscript, Kindle, .epub, PDF, etc.).
- Read! If every author read every book in their genre (or at least the highly rated ones), there would be a lot less rehashed stories, better writing, and fresh concepts. I read hundreds of books a year.
- Plot! Certainly, there have been some successful books written off the cuff, but to have good pacing, story development, character development, building of tension, etc. it typically takes good plotting.
- Flexibility! Revise, revise, revise. Rewrite, rewrite, rewrite. Don’t get so stuck on your initial concept that you reject an even better idea.
- Edit! Editing is hard. I typically go through my book over a hundred times, looking for something different each pass. Use a professional content and copy editor to help guide you.
- Proofread! Yes, I list this separately from editing. I highly recommend hiring a professional proofreader. If that is unaffordable, have someone (or even better, many someones)—other than you—someone with a sharp eye and very keen grasp of the English language, proofread your book. The brain compensates for missing words, extra words, etc. and they are very hard to find. If problems are found after publishing, fix and update.
- Work hard! If you thought the writing was time-consuming and hard, promoting your book takes as much, if not more time. Put in the hours.
- Thicken your skin! It is unlikely you like every book you read, so you can’t expect everyone to like your book. I’ve adopted the saying: “If you’re trying to please everyone, then you’re not going to make anything that is honestly yours, I don’t think, in the long run.”–Viggo Mortensen.
- Start writing the next one. Your chances increase exponentially of having a ‘hit’ the more offerings you have.
How do you juggle writing with family time?
It isn’t easy to juggle family time and writing. I have five kids, and so life is very busy. I write when my kids are at school and…in the car, at doctor appointments, kids’ sports games (I’m writing this at my daughter’s soccer tournament :))—anywhere I can bring my 11” MacBook Air, which is everywhere. And I sleep very little. My family has had to endure a less-than-perfect house (understatement), lots of takeout, and days where I say, “shhhh” a lot. My daughters do like to read my books as I write and in advance of the general public, so they at least get some benefit out of the deal.
“I’m angry at all of them. Every SCI leader. In fact Joshua gave me a list of those who are Earth-side. It makes for a great to-do list.” They all deserve to pay.
I’m done talking. It’s time for some action.
One thousand one.
One thousand two.
One thousand three.
That’s all it takes to even out my breathing and steady my hand.
I shift the crosshairs on my target ever so slightly—from his heart to his hand—and pull the trigger.
My father would be proud that all his training paid off. Oh, who am I kidding? He’d find something to criticize about my work here. Sad that even though he’s gone I can hear him saying, “If you’d hit a little to the left you’d have taken out a higher concentration of nerves.”
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