Book View: The Vampire Diaries (The Awakening & The Struggle) by L.J. Smith

After fighting my way through The Crying to Lot 49, I needed a mental break.  I’ve had The Vampire Diaries on my shelf for a couple of years now, ever since I fell in love with the television series.  Whereas I often fear watching the movie of a beloved book, the reverse can also happen and I put off reading this series because I knew there was no way it could possibly live up to the show.

Elena Gilbert is the queen of her high school and soon finds herself in a love (and hate) triangle with two Italian-imported model types who happen to be brothers and vampires.  Lots of chaos and drama ensues of the trivial high school and life/death variety.

Oh, man – I have no clue how anyone could have read these and decided to make a television show.  I am glad that next to nothing remained the same except some character names and minor plot points.  In the novels, Elena’s a completely vapid, shallow, selfish teenager that you care nothing about – not even the tragic death of her parents.  Stefan and Damon sort of ring true to their TV counterparts, but not enough for me to care about them either.  I realize that these books are written for teenage girls, but the teenage girls of 1991 deserved so much better – a heroine they could actually look up to.

The love story is seriously underdeveloped.  By November (book starts at beginning of school term), our two main characters get ENGAGED.  I need to stop there or my thoughts will be anything but tactful.

Interestingly enough, I can now see how Bella Swan and the Twilight series came to be.  Many fans (and critics) have compared the two, but I’m of the opinion that Twilight wins in contrast rather than comparison.  Elena ruins The Vampire Diaries – so it makes sense to me that the character of Bella would be the opposite – shy, awkward, book smart, and self-deprecating.  Instead of getting engaged immediately, at least Bella and Edward take a moment and have much more back story.  Nevertheless, Twilight doesn’t win in every category – Damon is a much better rival that Jacob (sorry Team Jacob).  Unfortunately, Bella eventually (New Moon, I’m looking at you) ruins the Twilight series for me as much as Elena ruins The Vampire Diaries.  And honestly, I can’t believe I just wrote a paragraph crowning Twilight the winner in any literary showdown, but there you have it – hell has frozen over.

And if you were wondering, I won’t be continuing on with the series.  I did spoil myself on the remaining books and feel quite comfortable with my decision because the silliness only gets worse.

After starting the year off so wonderfully, my book choices have faltered dramatically.  With the good, comes the bad, I suppose.  Hoping for brighter books in my future!

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10 thoughts on “Book View: The Vampire Diaries (The Awakening & The Struggle) by L.J. Smith

  1. Oh boy, it sounds like I would be seriously disappointed with this book. I don’t tend to go in for vampire fiction, only because I feel it’s been overdone, but there are some good specimens out there if you have a vampire itch that just needs to be scratched. If you want some titles that I have enjoyed, and that are far from vapid, and are actually truly scary, email me sometime! Great and very honest review today!

    • The next time I’m in a hankering for some vampire action – I’ll definitely shoot you an email. I used to adore vampire literature, but then got fangsick (just invented this illness, btw). And yes, stay far away from these novels!

  2. I had never heard of these as a teenager… mainly because at that point in my life I was over the vampire trend. But I recently discovered the show and LOVE it. So I thought “surely I’ll love the book even more!” WRONG! Elena was terrible. How did they get TV Elena from book Elena? I bought the first book of the series (which is actually the first 2 books) and haven’t been able to make myself get on to the second half of the first book. Nor will I be doing so!

    Also… sadly… Twilight does beat the pants off of this series.

    • Sadly, I finished the first two books. I read them in just a few hours, but still want those hours back. TV Elena and book Elena are only alike in name – I tend to believe the writers and producers of the show recognized the terribleness and just decided that the exact opposite would be awesome sauce b/c the show rocks.

  3. I read the first book, and the second and third, as well as the TV tie-ins are on my list. I hated the first book, and sold my copy.

  4. This was my least favorite series by LJ Smith. And yes, not the best on the development, but her series Night World and Dark Visions (psychic kids) are much better. If you’re looking for something light and supernatural.

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