Darkness Before Dawn is a new collaborative project by a couple of authors writing under the pseudonym J.A. London. It’s a new vampire series in the wake of the Twilight franchise success. I went into it with a dubious heart – I’m so sick of vampires. I read so many of them following the impact of Twilight… we all have. For the record, this is a great premise for a new series to follow. If you’re looking for an action intense vampire story this has it’s moments. However, it’s more of a romance than anything else.
Dawn Montgomery has been promoted to the position of Delegate between the Vampires and the Humans in Denver. In the future there are pockets of cities set very far apart from each other and the Vampires rule all. The cities are enclosed by walls with the Humans on the inside and the Vampires on the outside. Dawn works with an agency that bridges the gap between the two species, finding ways to provide blood to the Vampire overlords. Valentine, the oldest vampire, wants her to increase the blood donations by double and Dawn is hard pressed to accomplish this task. The pervasive attitude within the walls is one of fear and anger towards the dominant species… no one wants to give away their blood if they do not have to.
Despite her delegate status Dawn is only 17, and must behave as a normal 17 year old. To this end she has a best friend and a boyfriend and all of the social outings of a normal high school girl. Very early on in the story Dawn is attacked by a group of vampires coming home from hanging out with her friends. Vampires are not supposed to be within the wall but Dawn is prepared to fight them. When four vamps become too much in steps a stranger, Victor, who rescues Dawn from her attackers. Dawn finds herself immediately attracted to Victor but he hides a secret that can ruin their blossoming friendship… and Dawn has so many other obligations to consider besides him.
I enjoyed reading this, but I found myself only reading it in spurts. A few pages here, a chapter or two there. Normally it would not take me 5 days to read this short of a book. I don’t believe this lies in the book though. I’ve been too busy. However, stretching a book this short over so many days always has a poor impact for me. It tends to ruin the experience if I can’t blow through it at a quick pace. Like I said earlier, it’s more heavy handed towards the romance than anything, and it was everything else that I found more intriguing – the Vamp/Human relations, the underlying current of racism, the tensions between all the parties, the proposed solutions… the political things in this book were very interesting. I wanted much more of that. Where it lost me was in the pages and pages of time spent with Dawn hanging out with her friends, and her boyfriend Michael… and Victor… and is Victor “The One?”… and when do I tell Michael… and what if it’s the wrong choice… etc… etc… We’ve all been here before – the tired love triangle plot. It’s not very unique in a story that could have been. I wanted so much more of Dawn dealing with the political stuff than the teenage stuff, though of course I have to concede that being a 17 year old diplomat is a little unbelievable. I still think the balance could have been a bit better.
I’m reminded of when I read Die For Me by Amy Plum. I wanted one thing and I got another – that’s this book… wanting monsters and getting romance. Granted, I enjoyed this far better than that book but let’s call a spade a spade. This is a book about a girl resisting who she wants and not being able to come clean about it to another party… that’s what it is. If you do not mind that it focuses (heavily) on the romantic dynamic you’ll be fine. Myself, I wanted more urban fantasy, and I wanted Dawn to be able to kick a little more ass. I think I might be a little ruined for reading Vampires from The Hunt by Andrew Fukuda. So far that’s one of my favourites this year and it’s going to be hard to find another Vampire book to top that for some time. Plus, the relationship with Rachel in the book (Dawn’s guardian) was so Jenna from The Vampire Diaries TV show it wasn’t even funny.
All that said I can’t rate it low, because I genuinely did get some enjoyment out of the book. I’m just not feeling particularly desperate for the sequel. I think I have to process this one for a while and see if the burning need surfaces. It was still entertaining and I did like a lot of it. I just found it a little predictable in tone… and I called the bad guy. And a plot twist at the end. And I hate it when that happens.
4 out of 5 stars.