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!