Cover Image: Under the Lights

Under the Lights

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Member Reviews

I did not end up reading this book because it did not hold my attention after the first few pages. I tried to get into it but was ultimately distracted by other things. That's not to say it's a bad book -- I just don't have much time for books that aren't keeping me turning pages. For that reason, I also have not purchased it for my library -- I have a limited budget, and this didn't make the cut.
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Thank you so much giving me the opportunity to read and review this book, I really appreciate it.
Sadly I just very much dislike both main characters, especially the disgustingly unlikeable male protagonist. I might give this another chance someday because I know there's gonna be some good developing but I just genuinely can't stand reading from either of the protagonist's perspective at the moment.
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I requested this one back in the day as I had every intention of reading it. However, its been years and I still haven't gotten around to it and while I feel guilty at not reviewing a book I think that I need to admit to myself that I won't be reading this one anytime soon....if at all.
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I love a cheesy, tacky, trashy romance every now and then, and even this was too cheesy and tacky for me.
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This was fluffy and lovely and so, so sweet. I loved watching Vanessa grow to understand her sexuality, and her chemistry with Brianna was just perfect. I'm definitely looking forward to reading more from Dahlia Adler in the future!
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This book somehow fell completely off my NetGalley radar, and though I downloaded it to my computer, I lost it in a crash (most likely the file would have been expired anyway). At any rate, even after all this time I was still psyched about reading it based on the cover, description, and other reviews. So I went out and bought a copy--which I absolutely don't regret. The book was an absolute delight and I'm going to check out the other Daylight Falls book, too!
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This is a book that surprised me because of its unique format: the two POVs aren't the MC and the love interest, but two MCs who happen to be (somewhat) friends.

Vanessa is a Korean-American actress and the protagonist of a TV show. All of her moves are monitored by the media and regulated by her publicist Jade. When Jade's daughter Brianna gets close to Vanessa things get confusing for Vanessa, who's always thought she was straight. 

Josh is the son of an actress who's down on her luck and wants him to be on a reality show about her family, something Josh reluctantly has to do unless he wants his Malibu house to be taken away from him.

I started out not really liking Vanessa and almost hating Josh, but I knew I'd end up loving both of them, and I have to say that even when Josh was at his worst I got attached pretty much right away and I wanted to keep reading and get that sweet character development.

There's three aspects to this novel:

• Vanessa's story: her life as a Hollywood star, how this affects her relationships, and what it means to be a Korean-American actress and what it might mean for her career when you add "gay" to the equation. I loved Vanessa's whole arc from denial to questioning to finally accepting her attraction to a girl and to being okay with coming out publicly. I also loved the romance between her and Brianna, it was very cute and the chemistry and communication between them was great.

• Josh's story: his (non-)relationship with his family, his wild parties, the not really knowing what to do with his life or even who to be. I think Josh's development was amazing especially considering there's no romance for him in this book. Usually one way to show a character's growth is to give them a partner and show how they are with them, how they become better people. With Josh, he does this on his own and with the help of his friends, and I think that's a nice and important message that should be in more YAs.

• Vanessa and Josh's friendship: in an alternate universe, Vanessa and Josh have a beautiful enemies-to-friends-to-lovers arc. Here, they get a beautiful enemies-to-friends arc that was incredible and rare to see. I love how they had to forcibly spend time together at first but then because of different circumstances they spent more time together, mostly helping each other out, and from that a feeling of friendship bloomed. This was one of the few books where it's clear that friendship is a feeling before it becomes a type of relationship between two people, and although it kind of served Josh's character arc the way a romantic relationship would have, I feel like it was much more than that and it's just as important as the actual romance that happens within the book.

Overall I'm so happy with this book. I don't really care for Hollywood and celebrity stuff so sometimes at the beginning I was a little bored with it, but that never made me want to stop reading. All I can say is: come for the f/f romance, stay for the beautiful variety of relationships and themes portrayed here.
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I was looking forward to Under the Lights because I knew Dahlia Adler would deliver a brilliant, hot f/f - and she totally did. I did have a couple of issues with it (mainly Josh), but I liked it overall and the diversity was written beautifully. Especially loved that it explored what it was like for Van being Asian-American and of a minority in Hollywood.
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Thank you for this opportunity. Sadly I haven't been able to open the ebook, even though I was able to download it. So unfortunately I can't read or review this title.

Since I have to give this review a star rating, for you to be able to read it, I give it 3 Stars, but it doesn't reflect my true feelings to this book, since I haven't read it.
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Okay so I have to admit I was expecting a straight love story between josh and Vanessa and that’s not it at all. The book took a good 50% to get going but once it did, it was sweet.
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I liked most of this book. I love how it's avout growing up and becoming yourself. The main characters don't worry about what everyone thinks about them. The leading female finds out something about herself that's kinda scary. I would not be able to do what she did. I thought this book was a first a romance book between the leading female and male but boy was I wrong. This disappointed me a bit but I know alot of people will love this.
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3.25 stars.

I have some seriously mixed feelings about this book.

I picked this up because I was looking for a cute sapphic romance, and that was……about 50% of what I got??? I have such polarized thoughts about the dual POV here, so this will probably be one of the most scattered reviews I’ve written.

Vanessa Park is a Korean-American actress on a popular sitcom. She’s struggling to balance her acting career with her family’s expectations, and feeling a little abandoned since her best friend left for NYU. Vanessa is interesting and relatable and sympathetic, with well-developed character arcs centered around her realization that she’s a lesbian and her decision to take charge of her own future.

Josh Chester, on the other hand, is a racist, misogynistic, and entitled. I didn't enjoy reading from his perspective at all, and I struggled to take an interest in his character development.

Unfortunately for me, the chapters are split evenly between Vanessa and Josh’s perspectives. So while Vanessa’s chapters featured an adorable f/f romance, a bisexual love interest, and a well-written storyline, Josh’s featured……a bad dude who learns to be slightly less of a bad dude. I more or less skimmed his sections, but I was mostly just confused as to why he was a main character. I would enjoyed this so much more if it had been just Vanessa's POV.

I'm really conflicted on how to rate this. I'd give Vanessa’s story 4-5 stars. I'd give Josh's 1 star. So I'm settling in the middle.

CW: homophobia, sex, racism
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I requested this arc from the publisher mostly because I'd heard the main f/f romance is really cute and fluffy which is definitely is. Under the Lights revolves around a group of young people in Hollywood and is split between chapters about Josh Chester, a bad boy player born into the Hollywood life and Vanessa Park, a Korean-American actress who finds herself falling for another girl. 

I have to say I was much more invested in Vanessa's storyline than Josh's. Josh is a Hollywood bad boy and his arc is essentially him becoming less of a shit person. His character annoyed me so much and I don't think I ever felt he was redeemed. Calling Vanessa K-Drama was never called out and no one ever commented on it even though Vanessa says she doesn't like it at the beginning. It annoyed me every time I had to read it. He also made so many misogynistic comments. While I did hate him less at the end, I definitely don't think his growth made up for all the beginning. 

However, I enjoyed Vanessa's storyline so much more. Vanessa is an actress on a teen drama who finds herself falling for a girl called Brianna. I thought the romance between the to girls was so cute and well done. There is instant chemistry and their interactions are sweet and fulfilling. I really liked how their relationship was slow burn and had a big focus on consent. 

Under the Lights delves into many issues including representation in Hollywood and coming to terms with sexuality. I think these issues were definitely explored well with care and nuance. Vanessa's struggle to make it as a Korean actress, compared to Josh and Liam who are white is explored throughout the book and later what it means to be lgbt+ in Hollywood is also explored, as well as intersectionality. 

I really enjoyed Vanessa's coming out arc and how her sexuality was dealt with. The exploration of how sexuality can be fluid and you can discover you aren't hetero at any age was really nice. I also think the sex scenes were so well written. They were tender and sweet without being overly vague, and they weren't cringey which was great. Brianna was also really good bi rep and I particularly liked this quote

“Like boys all you want, Park. It still won't fix this. I'm bi and I promise you, it's not a fucking light switch. You can't just set it on 'boy' because it's inconvenient that you like a girl right now.”

My one real big complaint about this book is that there are WAY too many characters introduced at first and it's soo confusing for a while. 

But overall, I think this book was really fun. It delves into serious issues while having a fun "Hollywood drama" type plot line. I don't read Hollywood books, pretty much ever, so this was nice. I also liked that it was New Adult as that is a genre that appeals to me a lot as a 19 year old. I definitely recommend for a fluffy f/f romance and a fun Hollywood centric read. (Also, even though this is book 2 in the series you don't need to read book one. I didn't and it made perfect sense)

tw: misogynistic comments, racist and lesbophobic comments
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I really loved this follow up to Behind the Scenes. It was fun seeing the characters again and getting more backstory for Josh and Van. I liked seeing Van grow and her relationship with Brianna develop.
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This book has a really cute story, intertwined with complex family relationships and a poignant coming out story. The book is a sequel but that barely affected the story. There were a few references to the prequel but it can stand on its own.
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I enjoyed reading this book! The dynamics of being young actors dealing with drama and growing up was very enthralling.  The characters were realistic and their struggles identifiable.  I didn't realize going into the book that the boy was not going to get the girl, and that was hard to swallow at first, because that is usually my favorite part. But the girl does get her happily ever after, and it really is a wonderful novel about coming of age and finding out who you are and what makes you happy when you follow your heart.  A beautifully written novel.

***Received ARC in exchange for Honest Review****
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“I’ve read the scripts,” says Ally. “Which one of those is a higher form of entertainment, exactly? The one where he’d have to play a prince in a complete crap-fest of a misogynistic Disney-wannabe movie? Or the absurdly pseudo-intellectual one that subtly advocates for eugenics?”
Under the Lights surprised me. This is a definite hidden gem in the world of YA romance! It's half character-driven f/f romance and half powerful character arc for a former asshole, all set in Hollywood. 

Adler is talented at writing characters you can quickly get attached to; I grew attached to Vanessa's character rather quickly, with her sarcastic wit and love for her friends. Her arc around sexuality is a 10/10 effort, and one I'm definitely going to remember. 

One way this book really succeeded was in writing a believable asshole->good boy character arc. See, most reformed-asshole character arcs in YA occur for guys that are romantic interests, which leads to a lot of their actions being excused or ignored by their girlfriends - and by the narrative. Adler avoids this completely by separating his character arc from any romantic inklings. In fact, there's not even a romance for Josh. I spent around half the book hating Josh, yet I still empathized with his actions and wanted him to develop. 

And the romance is SO. SWEET. Adler had me shipping Vanessa and Brianna from their first meeting, and their romantic chemistry was written so perfectly. Van's gay crisis is written about with such honesty and empathy on the part of the author; you can definitely tell this is ownvoices. And also, kudos for not having the bi character be the questioning and unsure-about-commitment one in the relationship— that's a trope I see a lot, and while not necessarily bad, I'm glad this book subverted that expectation. 

What's best about this book is that you'll find it enjoyable whether you like Hollywood or not. It's not a completely romantic take on the life of a Hollywood actress, and it does a far better job acknowledging that everyone's life has problems than many Hollywood-set books I've read. The acknowledgment of racism and homophobia and the importance of representation in acting was so important to me. I also loved the representation of the protagonist's lack of agency within the narrative; it's lovely to see that side of Hollywood life explored, while not being a woe-is-me-i'm-an-actress type book.
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The cover and description were a bit misleading. An LGBTQ description would have been more useful.
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Could not finish - I didn't enjoy the second POV and felt it took away from the story.
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