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My review of ‘The Vampire Diaries’ book series by L.J. Smith

August 10, 2009

tvd The fury Dark Reuniontvd The Awakening and The StruggleSo, awhile back I posted about the upcoming TV series on the CW, The Vampire Diaries, and how it was based on a book series from the early 1990s, written by L.J. Smith.  Well, I finally finished reading the four books that make up the original series: The Awakening, The Struggle, The Fury, Dark Reunion (available in 2 omnibus editions, which is how I read them).  In February 2009, Smith also released the first of a continuing trilogy: The Vampire Diaries: The Return: Nightfall, but I haven’t read that one yet.  What follows is super-spoilery for the books, and possibly for the show, depending on how closely Kevin Williams decides to follow the books.  You’ve been warned.

The Vampire Diaries is not high literature, and it’s not trying to be.  It’s not an instant classic; it’s somewhat disposable Young Adult fiction, with all the good and bad parts of that genre.   Some people don’t like books about teen struggles, but personally, I love YA fiction.  I’m 27, but I still feel connected to teenage characters, and their angst-filled lives.  If I had read this book as a teenager, I might have enjoyed it even more, but I certainly did enjoy it.  I read the The Awakening pretty quickly, but it took me a bit longer to get through the next book.  I really got hooked at the end of the third book, The Fury; and I pretty much sped through the last book, Dark Reunion, my favorite of the series.

The series centers on Elena, the queen of her small town high school.  Blonde, blue-eyed, and impeccable dressed, she’s known as an “Ice Princess” of sorts.  At the start of the first book, she is mourning her parents who died in a car crash, and living with her sweet, but kind of clueless, aunt Judith.  She dumps her cute football player boyfriend, the lovable Matt, at the start of the first book, just in time to fall in love with the mysterious new boy at school: Stefan Salvatore.  Stefan is a vampire, turned in 16th century Renaissance Italy.  He’s eternally 17 years old.  In the first book, it is revealed that Stefan has an even more handsome vampire brother, Damon, who is not as well-behaved.  Stefan avoids taking human life, and hates his vampire existence, while Damon seems to revel in the power of it all.  Needless to say, Damon is my favorite.  What can I say?  I gotta love the bad boy 😉  The two brothers hate each other, due to the fact that they were both in love with the same girl back in Renaissance Italy–Katherine, who turned the boys into vampires and then killed herself out of disappointment that the boys would not agree to share her (more on the fabulously crazy Katherine later).

Other prominent characters are Bonnie and Meredith, Elena’s two best friends.  They’re awesome.  Bonnie has curly red hair, and is psychic, due to being descendant from Druids.  I love her–especially in the last book.  Meredith is great too, and she is really Bonnie and Elena’s rock–always remaining cool and collected.  It’s nice to see a teen series where the girls have lasting friendships.  She has a painful family history as well, which is important in the last book.  There’s also Matt, mentioned above, Elena’s ex-boyfriend and a real sweetie.  He is still in love with Elena, even after she repeatedly uses and abuses him, but by the end of the series it is pretty clear that he and Bonnie are meant to be.

Early on in the series, Elena becomes a vampire, so we don’t have to deal with any whining or brooding on that front.   Vampire Elena, the two vampire brothers who are in love with her (everyone is in love with Elena in this series), and her friends spend a good chunk of the series investigating evil, and trying to save the lives of those around them–with varying levels of success.  Then vampire Katherine comes back in the third book–turns out she faked her death to make Stefan and Damon feel bad, and has gone bat-shit crazy in the meantime.  Her appearance in the book really got me hooked.  I won’t give it all away, but she is fabulously entertaining.

Surprisingly, the main character, Elena, is killed off in the third book.  However, she remains a presence, and at the very end of Dark Reunion is reborn.  It is unclear whether as a human or vampire (at least to me), but probably human.  I’m excited to read the continuing books now, and to watch the upcoming TV series.  While the girls on the cast don’t physically resemble their characters, that’s not too important, as long as they’re as awesome.  Especially Bonnie.  Please don’t ruin Bonnie, Kevin Williams!!!

6 Comments leave one →
  1. Pae Pae permalink
    August 12, 2009 6:01 pm

    I can’t read this because I might read the books, But I’m still leaving a comment:)

    • heroine_tv permalink
      August 12, 2009 6:27 pm

      Ha ha. Thanks. We will have to discuss it more once the show has aired.

  2. August 24, 2009 2:17 pm

    love your take on the series!

  3. February 7, 2010 6:15 pm

    Just finished the 4th book. I’ve been keeping up with the TV series too. I think the 4th book was my least favorite of them all. 🙂

    I totally agree about the purpose of the series. It wasn’t meant to be high-quality literature, and while I enjoyed it, I would have enjoyed it more as a teen. I am so glad I’m not the only age-challenged YA reader out there!

    Good take on the series. I’m off to scan through some of your more recent posts as I notice this was posted waaaaaay back in August!

    • February 8, 2010 3:35 pm

      Thanks! Yeah, I wrote this waaaay back. I was on summer break, so the review is a bit superficial. Ah well.

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