Mixing vampires and dystopias has become a sudden trend in young adult fiction. So far this year, two other entries into this genre have been released – THE IMMORTAL RULES by Julie Kagawa and THE HUNT by Andrew Fukuda. With DARKNESS BEFORE DAWN by newcomer J.A. London (actually a mother/son writing duo) coming within the same month, I didn’t know what to expect. I wanted something fresh and new after those two entries, one of which was action-packed but cliché and the other action-packed but extremely weird. DARKNESS BEFORE DAWN brings the action, but once again, it falls short of being epic or truly exciting. And unlike the other two books mentioned, this one falls victims to some of the big time pitfalls of young adult fiction.DARKNESS BEFORE DAWN follows the aptly named Dawn, the recent pick to be the delegate of Denver to the vampire lord that rules over their walled city. A treaty was signed after the rise of vampires that overwhelmed the US, forcing humans into tightly packed cities separated by vampire-controlled territory. After being ambushed, she finds out that the boy that saves her is none other than the immortal son of the vampire lord.If you have seen the movie Blade 2, I would not suggest reading this book. It shares A LOT in common with DARKNESS BEFORE DAWN. If you have not seen Blade 2, then huzzah! Ignore this entire statement and don’t read the Wikipedia page on Blade 2 lest you spoil the book. And if you have seen Blade 2, let me ask – Guillermo del Toro can make anything awesome, can’t he?DARKNESS BEFORE DAWN does one thing very nicely, and this is the area where the book gets most of its commendation – the action. I have to give it to the authors. London knows how to convey a scene of action and high stakes. There are multiple fights in this, from full out brawls to close encounters in alleys to chases. This book probably beats THE IMMORTAL RULES for me in terms of action – barely. Mixed with the writing, which is actually serviceable, this is where the majority of my 3 hearts/stars comes from. But I have to admit, I am being a bit generous here. It gets brownie points for being highly readable and entertaining, but sadly, this is the part where I get to the bad.Dawn Montgomery is a typical YA heroine. No parents, a chosen one, a girl who constantly describes everything she sees in explicit detail and laments her life constantly. For a girl chosen to be Denver’s ambassador to the vampires, she sure comes off as wishy washy and not very strong. She over-describes everything, including her feelings. It gets annoying quickly.Her relationships were also very off-putting. Her human boyfriend from the beginning is the handsome Michael, but the moment the dark vampire Victor shows up, she is caught. Neither boy is especially good for her. Michael is pushy and forces Dawn into a situation that is totally uncalled for, and Victor is a vampire who deceives Dawn more often than not.The story is cliché and brings nothing new to the genre. I’ve said this before, but to succeed with a vampire dystopian, you need to do what others have not. DARKNESS BEFORE DAWN tries and falls short, mostly on the back of the heroine. With a different narrator, this story would have done a much better job convincing me of its place on my shelf. The action is good, as is the writing, but this story fell short of winning a place with me.VERDICT: Not delivering on its premise thanks to a weak heroine, DARKNESS BEFORE DAWN has strong action, but weak relationships and characters – and falls into the clichés of the genre from page one.NOTE: Also, I spy with my little eye the exact model and dress from the Fallen by Lauren Kate series. I think it's time to move past this photo shoot.