Review: Darkness Before Dawn by J.A. London

Publication Date: May 29th, 2012
HarperTeen
Format: ARC, 342 pages
RATING: 3 out of 5 Stars
SUMMARY
This electrifying new trilogy blends the best of paranormal and dystopian storytelling in a world where the war is over. And the vampires won.
Humans huddle in their walled cities, supplying blood in exchange for safety. But not even that is guaranteed. Dawn has lost her entire family and now reluctantly serves as the delegate to Lord Valentine, the most powerful vampire for miles. It isn’t until she meets Victor, Valentine’s son, that she realizes not all vampires are monsters….
Darkness Before Dawn is a fresh new story with captivating characters, unexpected plot twists, a fascinating setting, and a compelling voice. Written under the name J. A. London by a talented mother-son team, the trilogy is perfect for fans of True Blood and the House of Night and Morganville Vampires series.

The war between humans and vampires has ended. And while humans would like to believe that both species could co-exist peacefully, Lessers and anti-vamps alike would beg to disagree. This is a world where a city is walled all around in the hopes of keeping the rogue vampires out. The delegate, Dawn Montgomery inherited the position from her murdered parents. The responsibility of keeping Lord Valentine supplied with ample supply of blood rests on her young shoulders. But the powerful patriarch isn’t so keen on making her job easy. With increasing demands for blood, Dawn’s spite for their kind grew with more determination. When she meets Victor Valentine, her will, principles and beliefs will be tested. But how much would it take to convince her that not all vampires are monsters?
Yes, I know. Not another vampire book. And while the authors did a phenomenal job on keeping the creepy ambiance throughout the book, it’s a mountain of a job to convince readers that this book has something entirely unique. The truth is, there really isn’t. Here are some of the plot elements: human and vampire forbidden love, humans enslaved by the vampires, and an overzealous overlord who’s bent on keeping the Victorian traditions in the modern times. Really nothing special. We’ve read the same ol’ thing before. 
The relationship between Dawn and Michael had such sweet beginnings; but the circumstance with how quickly Michael turned on Dawn was mind-boggling. Considering how respectful, loving and sweet Michael was in the beginning, the turn-around didn’t make sense and most of all, seemingly forced. It seemed like the authors wanted to get rid of him quickly. In which case, I wished he wasn’t part of the equation altogether. His role was diminished that he almost faded to black. I have tried to rationalize why Michael was in the book to begin with when he had very little impact on Dawn’s overall characterization. Other than the fact that he was the other side of the triangle, I thought his character was insignificant.The authors spent time building up the relationship that had eventually ended in a resounding thud. It was a waste of my time.

Victor Valentine was your run of the mill vampire; brooding, mysterious, holy-hotness. Unfortunately, his character suffered from underdevelopment. He could’ve been so much more but I found him aloof and cold. I always look for emotions from characters and Victor was as frigid as an ice box even though he was the equivalent of a humanitarian for his kind.

Dawn didn’t fare well either. She was supposed to be kick ass but she withered under the glare of the insipid token mean girl. I don’t get it. She dealt with the Lord vampire himself; the scariest, oldest vampire there was and yet she could hardly stand up for herself when it comes to the school’s queen bee.

And have I mentioned I have a general distaste for love triangle? Well, this one has it. Although it was less taxing as opposed to some of the ones I’ve read from the past, I think it was the primary reason why I didn’t love this book as much as I would’ve.

This book was actually quite predictable; no surprises and twists in the plot, though the authors tried. Unfortunately, I saw it from a mile away. The characters were a bit flat and quite forgettable. I was really looking forward to reading this book. Sadly, it didn’t deliver.
VERDICT: If vampires are your thing, then this book is right up your alley. If you’re like me who’s read one too many, then you might want to pick up another off your shelves. Honestly speaking, I think I’m still interested in how this story will progress and will probably check out the installment.   
  • Hmm, the premise of this is intriguing and the cover is lovely (though it reminds me a bit too much of the cover for Fallen by Lauren Kate). However, I've read WAY to many vampire books for my liking and will probably pass on this one. Plus, I'm so tired of the “dark, brooding, and mysterious” love interest in YA paranormal books…

    Great review, and thanks for your honesty! 🙂

  • I never even thought about of that! You, my dear is ever insightful as always! 🙂

  • Thanks for a great review, Joy! Now I can calmly put this book on a back burner – I seem to share similar reservations about the usual cliche of YAs – vampire underdevelopped character – tick, love triangle – tick, mean girl – tick… Actually, love triangles in post-apocalyptic YAs boggles my mind. Apocalypse is not enough drama for the author, they need one girl in love with two boys as well?!!! *facepalm*

  • Oh, God, not another vampire-human relationship again?! And then the author plucks Michael from the plot and dumps him away somewhere. *looks skeptical* And there's a love triangle, too. No surprise there. Glad to hear that the creepiness level was good, though. We really need more creepiness in our books. 🙂

    I've been really looking forward to reading this one (even though some of the elements in there remind me a lot of Julie Kagawa's THE IMMORTAL RULES), but now, I'm not so sure. Thanks for your honest review, all the same!

    Meg
    The Book Galaxy

  • Thanks, Jennifer. I loved the cover as well but like you, I'm kind of bored with the vampire books I've been reading lately. Thanks for stopping by!

  • I liked how honest this review was. I like vamps but lately I have kinda taken a vacay from reading vamp books since there are just so many out there. I love the cover for this one, gotta say. Thanks for sharing your thoughts 🙂