Darkness Before Dawn by J.A. London Review

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Title: Darkness Before Dawn
Author: J.A. London
Publisher: HarperTeen
Publish Date: May 29, 2012
Genre: YA, Paranormal, Dystopian
Pages: 272
Source: Publisher
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.
Dawn lives in a world where darkness rules, and blood is the new currency. In an age where humans are subservient to vampires, human cities are set hundreds of miles apart from one another and are enclosed within large walls – not necessarily meant to protect the humans, but to keep them enclosed. At just 17 years old, Dawn is appointed a Delegate and must negotiate with the oldest vampire, Valentine, when he wants the human’s blood supply to vampires doubled. It’s an arduous task at the best of times, and now, in the worst of times, it is almost impossible. But Dawn’s life is more difficult than most. She’s also a teenager, navigating the realms of first loves, friendships and schooling, and an unwelcome visitor might just turn out to be the most welcome one after all.

In a world of YA paranormal novels where vampires seem to prevail, Darkness Before Dawn by J.A. London takes a stab at the market, hoping to shake things up a bit and breathe new life into a rather time-tested tale. With an air of mystery, a host of characters layered with duplicitous intentions and a plot that undulates in a series of highs and lows, the novel spins the reader into a bleak web. The novel was rich and evocative in prose, providing intricate details to completely captivate the reader from start to finish, giving you the full range of emotions and encouraging you to lose yourself entirely.

I have to admit that I’m entirely conflicted on Darkness Before Dawn. There were some wonderful strengths to this novel. Combining a brilliant dystopian world with futuristic vampires that rule over humans was a great concept and completely, darkly alluring. The world was so vividly described that it was easy to forget that I didn’t actually live in the world, which was a definite strength, lending to incredibly powerful scene-setting. In terms of characters, Valentine was an atrocious and fascinating villain. His character was so very dark that every scene he played a part in was tinged in darkness and blood, as well. I was, I’ll admit, a bit peeved to see yet another villain named Valentine though, especially when the Mortal Instruments series sort of coined it in pop culture. I also had some issues with Dawn’s character. I did enjoy her strength. I thought it was wonderful to finally have an empowered young heroine that didn’t leave all to chance, fate and the men in her life. However, navigating the love triangle was tedious, her relationship with Victor felt too instantaneous and reminiscent of other vampire novels for me to become truly absorbed. Most of all, however, I felt that adding normalcy of high school drama to such a dark and twisted plot actually took away from the story. Was it still entertaining? Of course…I just think that Darkness Before Dawn could have been better.

Overall, I’ll admit that Darkness Before Dawn was a rather quick and easy read, and it was definitely engaging. I don’t think it was my favourite, but you know me and vampires; that’s always tricky. I give it a 3 out of 5, and I recommend it to fans of YA, especially those who enjoy paranormal and dystopian stories.

I received this book free of charge from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This, in no way, affected my opinion or review of this book.


  1. I know you're not really into vampires, and since you thought this was okay at least, that means I might like it as I love my vampires! I've been interested in this one ever since I saw that gorgeous cover (can't help the cover love!) and while I'm not expecting great things, I might just check it out.

    Thanks for the review - I haven't read any others for this one yet and I was waiting for one! :)

  2. The paranormal/dystopian hybrid seems to be popular lately. I'm not really sure how I feel about it, I want to love it - but I find myself worrying that it's just 'eh' unless done flawlessly, KWIM? 

    I'm on the fence about this one and appreciate your review.
    -Jac @ For Love and Books

  3. I'm sure fans of vampires will actually love this one! There were elements that were definitely riveting, and I was entertained...I just wanted more :)

  4. I hear you. I think, if it's done right, it could be fantastic...I just haven't seen it done flawlessly yet. Plus, having read so many books, I'm not afraid to say I expect a heck of a lot lol

  5. I hear you. I think, if it's done right, it could be fantastic...I just haven't seen it done flawlessly yet. Plus, having read so many books, I'm not afraid to say I expect a heck of a lot lol

  6. I hear you. I think, if it's done right, it could be fantastic...I just haven't seen it done flawlessly yet. Plus, having read so many books, I'm not afraid to say I expect a heck of a lot lol

  7. You + Me = same exact page on this one! I wanted to like Dawn a lot more than I did, everyone kept saying how strong she was but I just didn't see that strength in her. The world was interesting, but I wanted more of an explanation on the vampires. How many days can they go without feeding? Why was the night train randomly tossed into the plot? I still enjoyed it overall, but I would have liked a bit more in some areas:)

  8. I'm so glad I'm not the only one. I saw so many 5 star reviews of it, and I thought I might be going insane lol Gahhh colour me crazy, but I just wanted MORE.

  9. Um....I don't really know what to say concerning the plot lines of the book. It sounds weird and to be honest, why one earth would they send a 17 year old to negotiate with the vampires. In all honesty, I think I would have steered clear of that book because the cover looks like a sequel to Fallen by Lauren Kate and I'm not really a fan of those books. Although, it sounds like the book is a toss up and that maybe since I do love vampires I may like this one. Still, the book cover whore in me can't terminate the relationship of covers. Sometimes I suck. But, I love you. LOL! Excellent review, Melissa. I don't think I'll ever really pick this one up. Too much to read. 

  10. I am a fan of all things vampire so I think I might like this. However, Julie Kagawa just covered the vampire/dystopic theme. It was so incredible that I think any other attempts will fall short. I'd highly recommend you try Immortal Rules.

  11. It sounds so cool, but..well I have some concerns and even if I like other good books and read them. From YA I need excellent

  12. Is it sad that it's getting to the point where the phrase "love triangle" has almost become an instant turn off word for me in a book? There's just so many of them these days, and very few of them seem to do anything new or interesting. Still, the idea of the world in Darkness Before Dawn DOES intrigue me....Great review, Melissa! :)

  13. I'm hesitant when it comes to vamps so I would have to see some rave reviews before I would pick this up. The whole normalcy of school really doesn't sound like it would fit this story so I'm glad you mentioned that it was different cause I was wondering. Anyway, glad it was a decent read even if it wasn't perfect.

  14. Oh damn it, I wanted it to be epic! I mean Vampires and Dystopian?!?! I do love Vampire stories so I'm a little sad that this one didn't meet your expectations. (and I see Jenny was so fond of it either...). And.. look at this cover?? Soo pretty! 
    But, I will read it anyway and just hope I will like it a litte more!

  15. Hmm, too bad. I think I'll be staying away. It sounds too much like other books that I have read and disliked.


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