{Review/Annotated Giveaway} UNDER THE LIGHTS by Dahlia Adler

I've previously reviewed companion novel BEHIND THE SCENES
and interviewed author Dahlia Adler
during A Week of Shooting Stars!

O P E N I N G   L I N E:

   Either my best friend or my assistant is about to punch me in the face. As usual, the fact that they're dating really isn't doing me any favors.
   "You barely even looked any of them," Ally Duncan complains through gritted teeth. She's been working for me for over a year, but her patience hasn't grown any in that time.

(pg. 6, US E-ARC edition)

Today, of all days, I'm very honored to be on tour with UNDER THE LIGHTS! Friday marked a historic day in US History when the Supreme Court ruled in favor of same-sex marriages, and to be reading and reviewing a novel dealing with a main character coming to terms with the fact that she may be gay is an extremely fitting way to celebrate. Vanessa would be proud! I also like to think that her and her friends had a huuuuge celebration this past weekend! (In fact, they may still be hung-over!)

Last year when I finished reading BEHIND THE SCENES, I wasn't quite ready to say goodbye to Ally and Liam. I was so excited when I heard that author Dahlia Adler was working on a companion novel entitled UNDER THE LIGHTS starring Liam's best friend Josh and Ally's best friend Vanessa. Reading UNDER THE LIGHTS, I definitely got to see more of both Ally and Liam. We get to see them together, and to see the new struggles that come with growing up. We also get to explore the psyches of both Josh and Vanessa, who were secondary characters on the last go-round. Now the tables have turned and Ally and Liam are secondary, and that's okay!

UNDER THE LIGHTS is mostly Vanessa's story. It was supposed to be Josh's book, but Vanessa stole the show and took off running. Even though she has the leading role on Daylight Falls, she still worries about her future. What kind of roles will be available to her as a Korean actress after the show comes to an end? The best friend? A character in a horror movie? There's not much out there. Top that off with the fact that Vanessa is falling for her publicist's assistant, Bri--another girl. So now she might be Asian and gay in Hollywood. Can Vanessa embrace this new view of herself...and does she want to? What will it mean for her career or her future happiness? 

Josh, on the other hand, is seemingly as carefree as always. Lavish parties and girls, always spinning wildly out of control. When his mother's soap is cancelled, she books a reality show to stay "relevant" in the media. The reality show, of course, only wants her if Josh comes with it, and Josh is fighting that decision tooth and nail. But if he says no, he'll be kicked out of home and Mommy and Daddy will stop bank-rolling him. Josh hasn't done much acting in a while, and he doesn't really want any new projects, either. Is he being too picky, or just becoming too jaded with the industry? When Liam is offered an amazing movie role, Josh steps in at Daylight Falls as a guest actor, a decision that will change the way he views things more than ever.

What's great about Dahlia Adler's books is how flawed all of the characters are. No one is perfect. There will be elements about the main characters that are extremely dislikable, and yet overall, they are still likable as characters. That's human nature, and Adler captured that very well. She also did a good job exploring Vanessa, who is coming to terms with the fact that she might be gay. You can feel her struggle and understand the different implications her choices will have on her future career. And Josh! He's one of those guys that would just be UGH in real life, but he has a lot more depth than anyone gives him credit for. He doesn't change a lot over the course of the novel, but the change has begun. I wouldn't be surprised if Adler returns to the world of Daylight Falls in the future. Maybe four years later, when Ally and Liam are engaged and about to get married or some such. By then, Josh could experience full character grown and it would be time for a full story with him. It would also be great to see what Vanessa may pioneer in the future and if she can take Hollywood by storm! Josh didn't get enough due in UNDER THE LIGHTS. It's supposed to be his novel, but it's really not. For a long time, I didn't understand why Adler had Josh and Vanessa rotating perspectives because, though they are interconnected, so much of their lives don't connect. I still don't know if it was the best decision because Vanessa's story stands alone and Josh's doesn't have a huge amount of meat to chomp through, but I can see the ties and why those decisions were made.

If you like books about Hollywood actors or envision yourself living the glam life, check out UNDER THE LIGHTS by Dahlia Adler. It isn't as frou-frou and on-the-surface as many other books in the genre, and delves into serious, hard-hitting issues that are prominent in the media. It's an excellent staple in the We Need Diverse Books Campaign, and is especially great if you're looking for a book to celebrate US History being made.

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I'm an Associate Editor of Mathematics by day, a Copy Editor by night, and I blog at The Daily Dahlia, YA Misfits, and the Barnes & Noble book blog. I also write contemporary YA (The Daylight Falls duology) and NA (The Radleigh University series). Rec-ing books is approximately my favorite thing in the universe, with macarons being a close second. Come say hi on Twitter, where I'm @MissDahlELama!

Follow Dahlia on her website, Twitter,  
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