A charity shop read I could have done without.
The Vampire Diaries is a series of young adult novels by L.J. Smith about, funnily enough, vampires. The Vampire Diaries: The Awakening is the first in the series and follows Elena Gilbert, the popular high school student everyone envies, as she sets eyes on the broody and handsome new boy at school, Stefan Salvatore. Little does she know, Stefan is hiding a huge secret; he’s a vampire, as is his brother, Damon Salvatore, a dangerous and dark killer.
Arguably, The Vampire Diaries is more well-known nowadays by the TV adaptation which starred Nina Dobrev as Elena, Paul Wesley as Stefan, and Ian Somerhalder as Damon. I used to watch The Vampire Diaries and quite enjoyed the thrills and drama of the earlier seasons. I thought it was fun enough as a TV show and more interesting than Twilight, at least.
I found The Vampire Diaries: The Awakening in a charity shop and decided to give it a go, seeing as I had enjoyed the TV series it was based on. I also thought, since I love L.J. Smith’s young adult thriller series called The Forbidden Game, I’d enjoy reading more of her work. What could go wrong?
The Vampire Diaries: The Awakening was a disappointment.
Elena is simplistic and over-emotional, and her emotions tend to always revolve around boys. She falls in love with Stefan after about 2 minutes and they begin a relationship incredibly quickly. She adapts to him being a vampire quite easily too. A lot of the plot moves rather quickly, in a way that just doesn’t feel realistic at all.
Damon, the infamous “baddie” from the show, doesn’t even make an appearance in the first book, and when he does, it isn’t particularly impactful. Elena summons him at the start of the sequel, The Vampire Diaries: The Struggle as if he’s ready to do her bidding. This is a huge contrast to the TV show, in which Damon shows up unannounced on Stefan’s doorstep to wreak havoc. Almost immediately, and predictably, Elena falls in love with Damon, who is then established as an obvious villain with no redeeming qualities whatsoever. I much preferred the way Ian Somerhalder played Damon as dark, sincere and dangerous, whilst simultaneously being sarcastic, witty, and (occasionally) emotional.
There were some events I recognised from watching the TV show such as a haunted house themed disco and a Founders’ Day Parade but, again, because the book is so short, everything feels rushed. People are murdered yet it happens so quickly for me to even care.
If I had read these books when I was 10 years old, I might have enjoyed them a bit more or been more prepared to read the rest in the series. As it is, I took a chance and was left disappointed. I think I’ll stick to the TV series.