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Review: Darkness Before Dawn

Darkness Before Dawn by J.A. London will be released in the U.S. on May 29, 2012 in paperback and eBook formats. It is currently available to pre-order online in both formats at Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

Published by HarperTeen, the print edition is 368 pages.

Darkness Before Dawn is the first book in a new trilogy of the same name by the authors.

***

Goodreads description:

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.

***

When vampires and humans went to war there would only be one victor. The vampires. A treaty was enacted to keep the peace. And as long as the voluntary blood donations continued, the humans within the walled cities would remain safe. Protected.

But with the passage of time, many people forgot their promises and refused to give their blood freely. And as the human population began to dwindle, food supplies became limited and many vampires were left starving.

Attacks on the cities increased. Safety could no longer be guaranteed. And the ruling vampires were more concerned with keeping themselves fed than the safety of their captives or the hunger of the lesser vampires.

As delegate, it was Dawn Montgomery’s responsibility to find a middle ground. To keep Lord Valentine happy and to keep the citizens of Denver safe. But as the youngest person to ever accept the role, her lack of experience made others question her ability. And her hatred of vampires hardly made her a neutral party.

With tensions escalating, outcry against her growing, an increased demand for blood donations, and vicious attacks on the rise, Dawn wasn’t sure she could keep the peace, let alone survive. And with everyone she loved already taken from her and with nothing left to lose, she wasn’t so sure she cared.

Until the day she met Victor. A boy who changed everything. A savior. A hero. A mystery…. A vampire.

***

Darkness Before Dawn is a dark, gritty and entertaining dystopian vampire story set in a future where vampires rule, keeping humans isolated and locked down in cities for their protection and to keep control. Where the only thing keeping them safe from the hungry vampires outside the city walls is their willingness to donate blood to the ruling vampire lord.

And in this world, still ravaged by the war that was waged and lost, the human population is decreasing. And with a limited supply of blood, the starving vampires outside those walls are getting more desperate and keeping them out is becoming more challenging than ever.

As more and more vampires breach the city’s defenses, humans have even more reason to fear the night.

With a ruthless vampire lord demanding too much from the humans in his territory, a struggle for control within the vampire hierarchy, an even deadlier threat to both vampires and humans emerging, a heroine who is trying to keep the peace treaty intact and an unlikely hero rising amidst the chaos, Darkness Before Dawn offers readers a suspenseful, exciting and at times nail-biting story with a cliffhanger ending that will leave them anxiously awaiting the next installment in the series.

In Darkness Before Dawn the authors combined a dystopian world with the paranormal to create a story with an edge that sets itself apart from many of the stories in this genre. The vampires are reminiscent of the cold-hearted, blood-thirsty vampires depicted in horror stories versus love stories, with the exception of a few whose natures appear slightly more humane and one, in particular, who appears almost human.

The story has a nice, even pace that picks up at its end along with the action and suspense. But at times there were some issues with the flow. Much of the story moved along easily and flowed naturally, with writing that was engaging, wonderfully descriptive and often beautiful, but there were moments when there was an awkwardness to the writing and where the characters didn’t behave as expected. Even with these bumps, however, the interesting characters and intriguing world are more than enough to keep readers connected to the story.

A first book in this new series, Darkness Before Dawn gives readers a little bit of everything. A dark, dystopian future, humanity on the verge of extinction, numerous deadly enemies, unrest among the humans and among the vampires, secrets, lies and betrayals, a love triangle, an ill-fated love story and a cliffhanger ending. Add in action, mystery and tension and this is one story that will captivate fans of the genre.

Reviewer gives this book…

Loved it!

On a personal note:

What drew me to this story was the premise. I loved the idea of a world where vampires ruled. Where they weren’t about living in harmony with humans. Where humans were simply their blood supply.

I loved the world the authors created. It was dark. It was violent. It was most definitely grim, practically hopeless and extremely isolated. I was easily and immediately transported into the world and I could imagine its crumbling buildings, its fearful citizens, it’s daring and rebellious residents who were just itching for a taste of freedom.

And I absolutely adored Victor. He was my favorite character in this book. He was charming. He was brave. He was incredibly fast and strong and smart. And he was a hero. A virtual knight in shining armor at times.

While I wasn’t initially a Dawn fan, she did grow on me. And her character did grow over the course of the story, which I always love to see. She was incredibly sympathetic for all she had lost. But for someone who was brave much of the time, she seemed to be a bit of a pushover at others.

There were a few twists and turns, one pretty big one, though I wasn’t caught by surprise when it came to light. But it was still an awesome change in direction nonetheless and one that totally made the ending incredibly exciting.

I definitely want to know more about the world outside of Denver. I want to know more about the night train. I want to know more about what it means to be a delegate. I want to know more about the lesser vampires and just how things got as bad as they did. I want to know more about the vampires in charge.

And I want to know what happens next for Dawn and Victor. As that was one giant cliffhanger the authors left me with.

What pulled me out of the story at various times during the read was some of the writing and character development. I thought much of the writing was absolutely beautiful. There were gorgeously written and incredibly meaningful passages. But they often sat side-by-side with some that were more awkwardly written with unusual ways of describing things.

At times I felt very connected to the writing and the story and at other times I didn’t. Perhaps it’s because there were two writers involved and their styles didn’t quite blend as smoothly as I might have liked in order to keep me connected. Or perhaps it was simply that I was able to connect to one writer’s style versus another.

I was also somewhat surprised by the change in direction with Michael’s character. The picture painted of him was that for years he was the best friend and practically perfect. And all of a sudden he becomes pushy, argumentative, demanding and selfish. With no real explanation given and no lead up to the change.

There were a couple instances where Dawn’s actions and reactions felt out of character, too. Even though she’d been through a lot, she was still brave, she still fought for what she thought was right and she took on the responsibility of being a delegate after the deaths of her parents. And yet she allowed herself to be persuaded against her better judgment to attend a party in a dangerous area and go for a wall walk and risk leaving the city because her friends wanted to.

But neither were enough to make me want to set this book aside. I did devour it in one sitting. I found myself always wanting to know more. And I couldn’t help but be most curious about Victor and his past.

While this wasn’t a brand new idea, the authors did make it their own. I found the world to be intriguing and by the end of the story incredibly exciting. I found characters to love, hate or be exceedingly frustrated with, all of whom I think played an important role and contributed to making this story pretty great.

***

I actually had quite a few favorite passages. Some were sort of beautiful, some were thoughtful, and some left me a little breathless. But I thought I’d include the one that just made me smile.

“I like you, Dawn. I’ve seen a lot of humans, from far away and up close. I’ve never met one like you. I think you’re the closest thing to a sunrise I’ll ever see.”

***

This review is from an ARC I received through a trade with another blogger.

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