This is going to be a combined review for Behind the Scenes and Under the Lights, the first two books in the Daylight Falls series by Dahlia Adler.
Behind the Scenes:
High school senior Ally Duncan’s best friend may be the Vanessa Park – star of TV’s hottest new teen drama – but Ally’s not interested in following in her BFF’s Hollywood footsteps. In fact, the only thing Ally’s ever really wanted is to go to Columbia and study abroad in Paris. But when her father’s mounting medical bills threaten to stop her dream in its tracks, Ally nabs a position as Van’s on-set assistant to get the cash she needs.
Spending the extra time with Van turns out to be fun, and getting to know her sexy co-star Liam is an added bonus. But when the actors’ publicist arranges for Van and Liam to “date” for the tabloids just after he and Ally share their first kiss, Ally will have to decide exactly what role she’s capable of playing in their world of make believe. If she can’t play by Hollywood’s rules, she may lose her best friend, her dream future, and her first shot at love.
My rating: 4/5 stars
Pros: Interesting characters and relationships, good writing, interesting and somewhat unique topics
Cons: nothing happened that was particularly surprising
As I’ve mentioned before, fantasy is my favorite genre. The way it takes me away from the world completely really draws me in. Which is why I’m not as big a fan of contemporary. Because it’s hard for a contemporary book to take me away from the world the way a fantasy or paranormal story can. Despite all that, I decided to read Behind the Scenes anyway. To be honest, in the beginning I was only reading it so that I could get to the second book in the series, Under the Lights. However, once I started reading it, the book really drew me in.
The main reason for this, I believe, is the characters. Ally is an intriguing main character who you really root for. Not only is she a down to earth girl who just wants to stay out of all the Hollywood drama, but you can’t help but feel for her with everything she’s got going on with her father’s health. Vanessa is also a very intriguing character. She is an actress but yet she’s very easy to relate to as well. She has her issues with her parents in addition to general insecurities. She’s also easy to love due to her friendship with Ally bringing out her more down to earth side. And then there’s Liam. At first glance, Liam is the typical straight white male YA hero. He’s kinda broody. Super hot. He falls in love with the main character. Yet there’s a level of depth to him as well. He’s been through some things too. And even though he’s in the whole Hollywood scene, he isn’t really part of it. He is genuinely a nerdy, sometimes lonely, sweet guy. All of these characters were so realistic. They were imperfect. They grew and changed throughout the story. They interacted with each other in beautiful, realistic, human ways.
Speaking of characters interacting with each other, I love the relationships in this book. My favorite is Ally and Vanessa’s friendship. I love how they balance each other out. I love how they support each other. I love how even when they were mad at each other, Ally was able to reach Vanessa through one of their inside jokes. Ally and Liam are cute. They’re a fairly typical mf YA couple. However, I don’t mind. Their relationship develops naturally and they fit well together. I also love Ally’s relationship with her family. Her relationships with her father, her mother, and her sister Lucy are all unique and amazing.
I also like the various topics explored in this book. From love to friendship to family to finding yourself. Each topic is written carefully and realistically. I never felt as if the author was forcing me to feel a certain way about anything. Rather, I felt like I was going on a journey of discovery with the characters. And what a beautiful journey it was
The writing in this book is great. It is simple but beautiful and really gets the reader inside the character’s heads. By the end of this book, I felt very close to the characters, like they were friends of mine. This was, I’m sure, due to the amazing writing.
To be perfectly honest, I don’t have any specific complaints about this book beyond its predictability. That’s another problem I tend to have with contemporaries. There’s no magic, supernatural characters, or political intrigue to keep you on the edge of your seat. In contemporaries, the plot goes from one event to another in a way that can be comforting and slightly boring at the same time. However, that’s just my own personal thing and it applies to all contemporaries, not just this one. Despite that, I still loved this book and would definitely recommend it to anyone who likes books with well-written and realistic characters and good writing.
Under the Lights:
Josh Chester loves being a Hollywood bad boy, coasting on his good looks, his parties, his parents’ wealth, and the occasional modeling gig. But his laid-back lifestyle is about to change. To help out his best friend, Liam, he joins his hit teen TV show,Daylight Falls … opposite Vanessa Park, the one actor immune to his charms. (Not that he’s trying to charm her, of course.) Meanwhile, his drama-queen mother blackmails him into a new family reality TV show, with Josh in the starring role. Now that he’s in the spotlight—on everyone’s terms but his own—Josh has to decide whether a life as a superstar is the one he really wants.
Vanessa Park has always been certain about her path as an actor, despite her parents’ disapproval. But with all her relationships currently in upheaval, she’s painfully uncertain about everything else. When she meets her new career handler, Brianna, Van is relieved to have found someone she can rely on, now that her BFF, Ally, is at college across the country. But as feelings unexpectedly evolve beyond friendship, Van’s life reaches a whole new level of confusing. And she’ll have to choose between the one thing she’s always loved … and the person she never imagined she could.
My rating: 4/5 stars
Pros: Interesting characters and relationships, good writing, intense emotions
This book picks up a while after Behind the Scenes leaves off. Ally is at college and Vanessa is left without her best friend. This book really allows us to see into Vanessa’s head. While I found her character interesting and easy to relate to in Behind the Scenes, Under the Lights makes Vanessa even more interesting and easy to relate to. By writing in Vanessa’s perspective, Dahlia Adler allows us to see firsthand her parental issues, her insecurities, her deep and sometimes hard to deal with emotions, and of course, her discovery of her sexual orientation. All of these things make Vanessa an even more realistic character. This book also allows us into the head of another character from Behind the Scenes, though a much more minor one: Josh Chester. In the first book, I considered Josh a bit of a joke–and a jerk–and didn’t like him. After seeing inside his head, however, I began to realize that he does–surprisingly–have depth to him. He, like all the other characters, has problems. Like Vanessa, he has problems with his parents, especially his mother. He also does have deep emotions and insecurities. He develops a lot throughout this book, as does Vanessa, and it is nice to see both characters change and grow throughout the story.
The relationships in this book are also great. Vanessa and Josh’s friendship is fun and full of sibling-like banter. It reminds me of the friendship of two of my friends. Vanessa and Ally’s & Ally and Liam’s relationships are just as good as they were in Behind the Scenes. And now the big one. Vanessa and Brianna. Their relationship is simply beautiful. There’s no other word I can think of to describe it. They complement each other perfectly. Their relationship allows both characters to grow and to become the best versions of themselves, as a good relationship should.
Like in Behind the Scenes, the writing in Under the Lights is simple yet beautiful. It allows the reader to truly be immersed in the feelings, thoughts, and lives of the characters. The writing made me feel so many intense emotions. Especially when reading Vanessa’s story. I relate to her character a lot. Her insecurities, her desire to please those she cares about, and her struggles with her sexuality are all things I can relate to. The writing in this book made me feel what Vanessa was going through throughout the story and that made the book even more enjoyable for me.
Under the Lights, like Behind the Scenes, does have the same predictability that contemporaries often do for me. Nevertheless, I absolutely loved it and would definitely recommend it to anyone who likes books with well-written and realistic characters, good writing, and LGBT representation.