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!

TV Reviews: Up All Night, The Secret Circle, and The Vampire Diaries!

Having too much fun watching the premieres of all the new shows!  I promise that I am still reading as well.  Read The Piano Teacher this week for book club on Sunday.  I’m also about halfway through two other novels – Shirley by Charlotte Bronte and American Pastoral by Philip Roth which I hope to finish this week – so look for those reviews next week!!

Let’s get started with Up All Night.  I am tough when it comes to comedies – if the characters aren’t completely endearing and I don’t laugh out loud, I will totally pass on the show forever.  Christina Applegate is a favorite of mine – loved Don’t Tell Mom the Babysitter’s Dead when I was 9 – and always enjoy Will Arnett.  I thought their chemistry as first time parents was fantastic and really grounded in realism.  I managed to laugh out loud within the first five minutes – when Applegate discovers she’s pregnant and that there’s a baby “in there” which sounds to Applegate like there’s a baby in a closet ready to come at them with a knife.  Arnett being the stay at home dad to Applegates’s television show producing bread winner is also a refreshing spin.  Unfortunately, Maya Rudolph ruins the whole damn thing.  I loved her in both Away We Go and Bridesmaids – but her performance here as an over-the-top Oprah-like television personality leaves realism behind in favor of slapstick comedy better left to Saturday Night Live.  We’ll see if she calms down in the first three episodes – if not, I’m outta here!

Our next new show is The Secret Circle from the CW which is about witches.  Seeing as to how I love all things supernatural, I was more than a little excited – especially knowing how good The Vampire Diaries has turned out to be.  Let’s just say I was not disappointed!  This show promises a great battle between good and evil, a superb bad guy in Gale Harold (whom I love an inappropriate amount), and plot twist after plot twist to keep viewers on the edge of their seats.  Of course, the pilot wasn’t perfect.  Most of everything revealed had already been seen in previews and the bad girl, Faye, was not as good as the rest of the cast which is extremely disappointing.  Witches and the like have been overdone recently, so we’ll see if the show can keep the idea fresh or not – but I’ll be there for every moment!

And finally, on to The Vampire Diaries.  I love this show so much.  What most shows only manage to pull off once or twice in a season during hiatus and finale cliffhangers, TVD manages to do in almost every episode.  The pacing is superb, beloved characters are killed, unpredicatble twists are the norm, and the cast is both beautiful and talented.  Characters you used to hate you grow to love and vice versa.  For me, this show is pretty close to mindless fluff perfection – with moments of clarity and intelligence that are pleasantly surprising.  Ok…enough with the fangirl imitation.  The new season throws us back into the action with Elena growing ever closer to Damon while mourning the momentary (hopefully!) loss of Stefan.  But you won’t find our heroine jumping off of cliffs any time soon (this is a thinly veiled Twilight insult)!  Stefan has turned all big bad (fun stuff!) and has re-earnd his nickname “The Ripper”.  Caroline and Tyler are getting all hot and snuggly just in time for Tyler’s mom to shoot Caroline down with vervain as she tries to leave the Lockwood mansion – and you thought your significant other’s parents were tough to deal with!!  Oh show, how I love you!!