Wednesday, December 2, 2009

The Vampire Diaries: The Awakening (Book 1)
L.J. Smith

rating: 5 out of 10 "books"

As a culture, it seems like we’ve made that cycle back to vampire obsession in no time. Of course, it feels like once a decade we revert back to vampire-mania. From the “Lost Boys” of the eighties to the vampire slayers of the nineties (I’m talking about that little ditty adapted from that movie you might remember, “Buffy” something or other), it is no wonder “Twilight” crazes and anything relating to the sexy undead is at a peak for the two-thousands. It almost makes me wonder if these “recycles” have anything to do with economy or politics. It certainly feels like the bloodsuckers come out during hard times. But upon looking into it, there is no truth to the matter: at least in the case of literature and film. I cannot claim the same being true of everyday life.

With the premiere of a new show on the CW network, I settled in to get my own take on “The Vampire Diaries.” Although I was at first unaffected and apathetic as to whether I saw another episode or not, I eventually became obsessed with this show. Having read the “Twilight” series before any of the films came out, I decided to check out the book form of “Vampire Diaries.”

First off, it must be mentioned that L.J. Smith’s teen vampire romance came out first in 1991, fourteen years before Bella Swan would fall in love with Edward Cullen, let alone be capable of such feelings towards the opposite sex. I have to say this because I don’t think L.J. Smith gets enough credit for paving the way for what would become the biggest tween/teen/adult woman craze of the 21st century. I get a little huffy when people think the CW show is ripping off the “Twilight” Saga. But, that’s for another time.

“The Vampire Diaries: The Awakening,” is the first book of the original four part series. We are introduced to Elena Gilbert the “queen of the school,” who has boys longing for her and girls wanting to be her. She is so caught up in her looks and popularity, that she can hardly believe it when the mysterious new boy in town hardly gives her the time of day. This incredulity only makes her more determined to conquer him. The “new boy,” Stefan Salvatore, has a secret: he is a vampire. Settling in Fell’s Church, Virginia, Stefan is determined to live the normal life he was meant to live over one hundred years ago and forget all about his all time love, Katherine, who killed herself as a result of brotherly quarrel over her. But Stefan’s best efforts at laying low amongst the humans are not made easy when the tiny town starts experiencing strange attacks as soon as he arrives in town. Events, that leads Stefan to believe that his older brother Damon may be in town. Even harder than dealing with the escalating suspicion from the townsfolk however, is his ability to hold off Elena’s attempts at seducing him.

Of course, love conquers all, and Elena and Stefan fall in love. By the end of the book Elena also begins to grow up and lose her vain, immature ways. She could care less about being school queen, much to the delight of Elena’s “frenemy,” Caroline Forbes. As the end of the story approaches we learn that Damon is in fact in town, and he’s got some business to attend to.

This book is definitely different from the television show. The most obvious difference is Elena’s appearance: blond hair/blue eyes. From her description and Caroline Forbes', it’s almost as if the two characters were switched appearance-wise anyways, for the show. Another big difference is the back story of the Salvatore brothers. Hailing from Renaissance Italy in the story, the brothers claim Mystic Falls, Virginia as their birthplace on the show, and have just now returned to said town (where the show takes place), after many years. The story line is still very much the same though: Elena’s parents died in a car crash and now Elena lives in her parent’s house with her Aunt Judith. However, Elena’s brother on the TV show, Jeremy, doesn’t exist in the books. Instead, Elena has a baby sister named Margaret. Other characters from the show are in the story, but in different ways. Elena’s ex-boyfriend Matt is the same old character, although I’d say he is way more compassionate and bent on helping Elena any way he can in this book than he is in the TV version. Vikki Bennet is not his sister however, although she is in the story in quite a different way. The same can be said of characters from the book missing from the TV show. For example, in the story Elena has a friend, Meredith, who I do not believe is anywhere mentioned in the CW version.

All in all, I enjoyed the first book and was glad to have a basis from which to judge the CW show. I plan to finish out the series and hopefully continue onto the sequel series, “The Vampire Diaries: The Return.” I still feel like there is a lot more to mention, but hopefully I will get to that in my review of the next book. I know this review has already gotten much too long!

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