Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Under the Lights by Dahlia Adler Review

"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."

NetGalley! Thanks for the copy.

Under the Lights is brilliant. The book plays on the reader's expectations and easily subverts then, ending the book with a huge plot twist that few people see coming. There is some stereotyping involved. From the synopsis, you would think that there is a romance between Josh and Vanessa, but... Oh, spoiler alert. Sorry, can't say anything.

(Come to think of it, however, the cover is a big spoiler itself. So it probably won't be surprising for readers if they take a much, much closer look at it. Though I won't be surprised if there are a few here and there that simply gets caught off-guard by the LGBTQ elements in the book because they overlooked the cover. Oh, where is my handy spoiler alert sign? I need one.) 

Josh Chester hasn't grown up yet. He is a movie star, and he is very, very good at his job. (Okay, maybe not, but that is Josh's opinion and Vanessa doesn't talk much about his talent.) A struggling artist, he strives to make it in big. He is very obnoxious and annoying, and his POV absolutely drives me insane, because he has that dryness in his words. Thankfully, his character development is absolutely wonderful and well-handled. 

Vanessa Park is a Korean American actress. She easily sees through the stereotyping and the diversity issue of the media. She connects very easily to me, and I absolutely understand her (much more than Josh, especially). Holding under the weight of parental disapproval and the stress in her job, Vanessa is an interesting character. Her identity question is a big one, and I love how... 

I love how Dahlia Adler switches characters' role in the book. From a quick glance, readers would think that this is a typical story of "boy and girl hate each other, boy and girl date each other." But no! Oh, my gosh. It is absolutely not what I expected, and that is why the labels break and everything simply becomes so confusing and amazing. Also, I love how the LGBTQ factor comes into play. It definitely gives the plot a huge twist. 

Overall, Under the Lights isn't the typical romance. With a twisty plot and entertaining characters, the story of Vanessa Park and Josh Chester simply surprises readers. My advice to anyone who wants to read Under the Lights is this: Keep an open mind. 

Rating: Four out of Five

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