Under the Lights by Abbi Glines
Published by Simon & Schuster on August 23, 2016
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Pages: 336 – hardcover, 320 – paperback & ebook
Format Read: paperback
Rating: 3 stars
Source: Simon & Schuster
Willa can’t erase the bad decisions of her past that led her down the path she’s on now. But she can fight for forgiveness from her family. And she can protect herself by refusing to let anyone else get close to her.
High school quarterback and town golden boy Brady used to be the best of friends with Willa—she even had a crush on him when they were kids. But that’s all changed now: her life choices have made her a different person from the girl he used to know.
Gunner used to be friends with Willa and Brady, too. He too is larger than life and a high school football star—not to mention that his family basically owns the town of Lawton. He loves his life, and doesn’t care about anyone except himself. But Willa is the exception—and he understands the girl she’s become in a way no one else can.
As secrets come to light and hearts are broken, these former childhood friends must face the truth about growing up and falling in love…even if it means losing each other forever.
Many thanks to the publisher, Simon & Schuster, for providing me with an ARC of this book in exchange for my honest review. This in no way impacted my views and opinions below.
Okay, so, I do admit to kinda being nervous that Under the Lights wouldn’t live up to my expectations after Until Friday Night or that it would just be too similar to the first book. I was wrong about the latter; it had a completely different feel to it than the first book. Under the Lights could probably be read as a standalone, though it’s set in the same town as Until Friday Night with the same cast of characters making cameo appearances. Reading the first book definitely isn’t a necessity, but I personally like the feeling of recognizing old characters and already being acquainted with the world and all.
Under the Lights is told in multiple points of view — three, to be exact. Brady, Willa, and Gunner used to be childhood best friends until Willa had to move away. Now she’s back, but she’s not the same. All of them aren’t. They have haunted pasts and dark secrets (you know, the package deal). I know what you’re probably thinking… love triangle? Yikes. I was a bit disheartened by that, too, but it actually wasn’t that bad. For starters, it was pretty obvious who Willa would end up with from the beginning. For me, it didn’t even take away from the book. Their relationship development still made my heart beat all the same. There wasn’t much drama about the love triangle itself as expected. Instead, the “drama” was mostly focused on each character’s individual struggles. Needless to say, there was jealousy here and there, but it didn’t stir that many problems.
The story itself was an incredibly enjoyable fast read that’ll have you wondering where the pages flew. My overall level of enjoyment of this book alone is enough to warrant it 4 stars; however, there are a few issues that did bother me enough to make me take away a whole star.
Firstly, the way every single girl character except for our MC, Willa, and the previous book’s MC (Maggie) was written irked me so.much. They were all so stereotypical and mean, and it was obvious they were written for the sole purpose of being props to the guy characters. In addition, older women like Willa’s and Gunner’s mother were such awful, conceited people and I just- arghh. What pissed me off the most was the fact that two women in this book *no spoilers* said that they’d been raped, and guess what? They were ridiculed & disbelieved by almost everyone, including some of our very own MCs.
Second, unlike the first book, the character development in this was almost nonexistent. Maggie’s character development was honestly phenomenal, but Willa? Not so much. What this book did have in abundance, though, was inner dialogue. There was lots of it. Like, it would span the length of 1-2 pages! At first, I didn’t really care or notice that much, but there were times that this inner dialogue started to get repetitive and, dare I say it, boring.
(At this point of the review, I started waffling about what to rate this book, but finally settled on 3 stars for the reasons below.)
On one hand, this was a very quick, cute, and enjoyable read – no doubt about that. The romance was able to pull me in and the love triangle (thankfully) wasn’t that obnoxious. The writing was pretty great and articulate, too. The characters made me fall in love with them, and the book made me feel so many wonderful things. I just really, really, really enjoyed this book!
On the other hand, when I start analyzing the book and delving deeper into all the technicalities, I start to find underlying issues. The way the female characters were written and how they tried to bring each other down (which is a huge pet peeve of mine), the lack of character development & abundance of internal dialogue, and the sexism.
I don’t know if the first book had the same problems as this one and I just didn’t see them, or if I was just in a really weird place while reading it, but what I do know is that both books still managed to capture a part of my heart – no matter how small.
Rating: 3 fish