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Saturday, September 22, 2012

Review: Darkness Before Dawn by J.A. London

The title definitely fits the tone of the book.

Title: Darkness Before Dawn (Darkness Before Dawn #1) by J.A. London
Pages: 342
Release Date: May 29th 2012
Published by: HarperCollins Publishers
Source: Bought
Buy: Amazon | Book Depository


Only sunlight can save us.

We built the wall to keep them out, to keep us safe. But it also makes us prisoners, trapped in what's left of our ravaged city, fearing nightfall.

After the death of my parents, it's up to me--as the newest delegate for humanity--to bargain with our vampire overlord. I thought I was ready. I thought I knew everything there was to know about the monsters. Then again, nothing could have prepared me for Lord Valentine . . . or his son. Maybe not all vampires are killers. Maybe it's safe to let one in.

Only one thing is certain: Even the wall is not enough. A war is coming and we cannot hide forever.

Staying true to the title, you will feel a sense of foreboding even at the very first page. The dreary quality of the novel gives way to Dawn's story, starting at the very night her parents were killed. Now she's the delegate, the only person who will liaison with the most powerful, most dangerous vampire in the world. It's up to Dawn to try and make peace with Valentine and his people. While the rest of the human population spent their lives hiding behind the wall and the vampires, something else is brewing outside. Vampires are dying inside the wall and no one is safe.

I find the whole concept of the vampire-human relation very familiar, yet unusual and highly fascinating, although it took a while to sink in. It's like reading about something so fragile like glass, that one wrong move will shatter it into pieces and all hell breaks loose. The fate of all those inside the wall rests in the hands of Dawn, but the relationship between the vampires and the humans is strained, fragile at best. The concept of donating blood to keep the human children safe might be appalling to some, my brows certainly were raised a few times and I find myself more appalled when even the teens were rallied to donate, like it was the most natural thing in the world. It was enough to emphasize the fact that the humans do not stand a chance against the vampires. Be subservient, docile. Be like cattle, if you want to live. It's a point driven home quite scarily by the way life works inside the Wall. Donate blood and the vampires leave you alone. It's unsettling and little bit hard to swallow, truthfully. It makes you think just how much must be sacrificed to live, or be allowed to live.

But getting past that, I was able to take a close look at Dawn and Victor. Dawn's a tough girl, and her life was not easy. Marred by the tragic death of her parents, and the traumatic event that took her brother's life away, she was supposed to have all the reasons to seek vengeance from the vampires. Instead, she took on the role left by her parents, one that puts her at odds with the rest of the human population inside the wall, and puts her at risk with the vampires. I cannot imagine how it's like to live like her, someone who has lost a lot, and yet working on something that puts her very life at risk. Victor, on the other hand, gave the 'old school', familiar vampire feeling. Son of the most powerful creature outside the wall, he had seen the horrors happening on the struggle for power between the humans and the vampires. His life gives great contrast with that of Dawn's, there was no concept of family, no warmth. Only killing, and gaining of power. And yet he longs for a day where the humans will understand that it is just a part of their nature. Their sustenance is blood, and that some, if not all, aren't as soulless or evil as they are thought to be. It's quite interesting to see the motivations behind both Dawn and Victor, they make the perfect 'star crossed' pair of lovers. In the eyes of society, falling in love with each other defies everything that they are, and the circumstances surrounding their complicated, dark lives marred with violence and blood should not even allow them to feel any romantic inclinations towards each other. But they do, and I find the questions and doubts that gets between them a little testing, as it makes their relationship difficult, certainly unconventional, but it's one the readers would love to stick around to and find where it is headed.

I like how this novel makes one look closely about what one considers right or wrong. It's in the vampires' nature to take blood. They cannot help it, but does that fact make it right when they take lives of humans? Is it just their instinct for survival kicking in? What about the circumstances that made them vampires? Those who were humans once? And what about the humans who just wants a peaceful life? Free from the wall, who instead had to exchange their blood for safety while living inside a wall, still in fear for the vampires who want to take more? Though the twists were a little bit predictable, I love how that foreboding feeling sticks with you all the way while reading. That dark, sinister feeling originally associated when reading about vampires is definitely in this novel, that merciless vibe, instead of cutesy, sparkly feelings we all came to expect in recent novels.

Darkness Before Dawn is a dark romance with a kind of hypnotic pace that can draw readers in. Politics, intrigue, cruelty, savagery and a struggle for power was thrown in the mix, along with some secrets worth uncovering, which makes this a steady, enjoyable read. It wasn't all gloom, as a healthy amount of forbidden love was also inserted in the right moments. If you're expecting a shallow, fun read, then this book might surprise you. This book is worth taking a closer look, it's got a nice combination of familiar elements that brings back the scare to the vampires. And it makes one think, even doubt, if sunlight can still save the humans from an onslaught, should it happen.

There was a very important secret kept from Dawn that was not revealed in the first book, and although I have my theories as to what it is, I will keep it inside until I read Blood-Kissed Sky.

Content (plot, story flow, character):
My only real issue with this book is the fact that Dawn, for someone who is tough, seem to be relenting so much to the vampires, even going as far as to rallying the teenagers to donate blood. I frowned at that particular development in the story as it didn't seem right. But her moments with Victor, fleeting, stolen and dangerous, were enough to make me swoon.
Shining: Worthy of a Goddess' Love!

Book Cover:
I have mixed feelings over the book cover, but it's well done!


  1. I bought this book and haven't read it yet. Thanks for the awesome review Kai. I can't wait to read it soon :D


  2. Love the review! I just found your blog (I was attracted to the name) and now, I'm your new fan/follower!



  3. Oooh, Kai, I've been SO curious about this book, and it's actually the first review I've read for it. It sounds FASCINATING. Many similarities to The Immortal Rules, and I mean that in a good way! I love how dark you've made it sound. So excited to read! ♥

  4. I've seen the book everywhere but I didn't take the time to read the synopsis. Love the cover! I'm not expecting this to be about vampires. Great review! Thanks!


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