This review is also posted at The Bawdy Book Blog
Vampires and Dystopian? Sign me up! I had a great time reading Darkness Before Dawn because it combines two of my favorite genres: dystopian and the paranormal. End of the world + fangs = Winner winner
First off, let’s look at the cover. *drool* Yeah, I know, it looks a lot like the Fallen series and these kinds of covers are probably overdone now, but seriously, there is something mysterious about it. I’m not a huge fan of historical novels, so when this magically showed up on my doorstep one day (seriously it did, and it was like my birthday when that happened), I was kind of like…eeeehhhhhh, because that’s what I thought it was – a historical novel. But then I read the synopsis and I wanted to read it like WOAH!
Darkness Before Dawn is the first in an exciting new series by J.A. London about society after a special kind of apocalypse where humans and vampires have warred, and eventually made a (totally one-sided) peace treaty. Humans live within walled cities, don’t recommend going out at night “just in case,” and assign people to be Delegates to the HuVamp Peace Treaty, to ensure that both sides continue to meet the requirements (read: humans donate blood so they don’t get eaten).
Dawn (a right name for this novel) is assigned to be Delegate when both of her parents are brutally murdered on a return trip from Lord Valentine’s manor, after an evening of standard Delegate negotiations. She’s in mourning, yet she knows her duty to the city is of the utmost importance and handles her duties and life with honor and vigor.
The cast of characters is well-fleshed out and strong. To match Dawn’s strength and seriousness is her BFF, who, I’ll admit, acts a bit brainless and takes a lot of risks, but is also very intelligent. Her boyfriend, Michael, appears to be a stand-up guy, his goal in life to become a Nightwatchman, one of the few, unsung heroes of the night who are heavily trained to murder vampires that break into the city. Victor, Dawn’s savior, who seems thoughtful and progressive. And so many more (that I’m not mentioning due to spoilers).
I liked the plot of Darkness Before Dawn a lot! As I said, it combines two of my favorite genres and J.A. London does it with style. Vamps are in charge here, not humans; the humans are like caged cattle, supplying their blood with blood drives and the sort. And that’s Dawn’s job as Delegate: to make sure the vampires have enough to not storm the city.
Except they don’t.
Which introduces us to a new kind of Thirst.
Darkness Before Dawn was also brutal and….dark. It had some dark themes to go with the light themes of a YA novel. I don’t want to mention them in this review because, frankly, they’re spoilery. But I don’t think anyone will be disappointed in them. I did like how just because something is one way, doesn’t mean it always has to be that way because life throws curve balls and sometimes how you view someone isn’t what they really are. I know I’m being obtuse, but let’s just call it “progress.” Dawn, as a character, experiences this through her relationship with others throughout the novel.
The twist…I saw it coming. London largely began hinting at it halfway through the novel, so it wasn’t a surprise to me. I don’t know if I’m just getting better at ferreting out the plot twists or if I was led in this direction by the author…or if it was just that obvious, but it was still enjoyable.
Overall, if you are a Paranormal OR a Dystopian fan, you have to read Darkness Before Dawn. It’s fangarrific.