Saturday, May 21, 2011

Book Review: The Awakening & The Struggle

Title: The Awakening & The Struggle (The Vampires Diaries #1-2)
Author: L. J. Smith
Publisher of this edition: Harper Teen, 2007 (both books first published in 1991)
First read: 2010
Page total: 492

September 4

Dear Diary,
Something awful is going to happen today.
I don't know why I wrote that. It's crazy. There's no reason for me to be upset [...]

The arrival of a handsome Italian stranger in Fell's Church is the trigger of rows of complications in Elena Gilbert's life. When Stefan Salvatore shows her cold shoulder, which Elena as the queen of her school is totally not used to, she's determined to have him.
But there's a barrier between him and the rest of the world Elena doesn't seem to be able to break. What she doesn't know is that Stefan is a vampire who's centuries old.
Shortly after Stefan's arrival, strange things happen in normally peaceful Fell's Church, and everything indicates that they are Stefan's doings... Things get even more complicated when Stefan's older brother and mortal (or immortal?) enemy Damon shows up.

How I came to pick up this book
It was in August 2010 when I was in Korea and bored out of mind without my library. It was raining that day - and having nothing to do, I turned on TV and saw reruns of The Vampire Diaries shows. At that point, I already have heard of the famous vampire series by L. J. Smith (I was also familiar with her Night World series). It was in the middle of the series so I had no idea what was going on but it sounded interesting. So I made a vow to check it out once I was in Germany.

the world of The Vampire Diaries
Considering The Awakening was published in 1991 -before I was even born- the classic vampires in this series make sense. Nowadays, there are all kinds of vampires - sparkling vampires, vampires with magical powers, with tatoos, with blue blood in their veins, mortal and immortal vampires, ... But it's all recent. And Vampire Diaries is 20 years old! So the pale vampires who have bloodlust and super strength and who must avoid the sun at all cost (with two exceptions) might be the vampires people at that time believed in.
Also, there is something typical Smith in Vampire Diaries: (I know this, having read her Night World series) the bond between the vampire and the human during the blood exchange and the Powers vampires possess - such as mind-reading and compelling.

character files
*/Elena Gilbert/*
Pale, blonde and slender, she's the most popular and most beautiful girl in Fell's Church. Also known as the "ice princess", Elena is fierce, determined, stubborn and she's convinced she can get everything she wants. Sometimes she's even child-like in that aspect.
I personally have never been that fond of queen bees, and Elena is no exception. I find it rather hard to relate to her. She's so full of herself and often it seems as if she doesn't care about other people, even her friends and family, as long as she gets what she wants. Also, she's so sickeningly sweetly in love with Stefan with feelings so deep and full of love it's unrealistic. She has the best best friends and doesn't know to value them. Oh, she's brave, I'll give her that. But her overpossessiveness and overprotectiveness annoy me.

*/Stefan Salvatore/*
Born in Renaissance Italy, Stefan is described as "stunningly handsome" and is equally fierce and protective of those he loves as Elena. Stefan is also struggling to fight his vampire nature and feeds off animals rather than humans.
It was interesting to read about his past and how he and Damon became vampires, but Stefan as person didn't fascinate me. He was just another character. I found him rather dull.

*/Damon Salvatore/*
Also born in Renaissance Italy and Stefan's brother, Damon is described as "too beautiful to be described as merely handsome". He's the opposite of Stefan: When he became a vampire, he embraced the night and has been hunting humans -and gaining Powers- since. He can be also ruthless, has a dark humor and is arrogant but he really cares about Elena. (I didn't find the last bit out until the third book, The Fury.)
Damon's more interesting than Stefan, and I liked it that he's not some mindless killer. We don't get to see the world from Damon's PoV but it's easy to see his constant jealousy and rivalry toward his brother and the challenge he sees in Elena.

*/Bonnie M./*
Bonnie is short, has curly hair and is also a psychic, a fact she's not even aware of at the beginning of the book. She's also cheery and lightens dark moods.
Now this is someone I like; Bonnie, one of Elena's loyal best friends, is easy to like. She brings some laughter and cheerfulness to Elena's ice-queen-ness. Her psychic abilities are equally interesting and I can't wait to see more of her!

Tall, dark-haired and observant, Meredith is the silent and thoughtful type. She has also a rather dark sense of humor and is a loyal friend of Elena's.
Meredith is not bad either. She doesn't have the presence like Bonnie does, but she has a sharp mind and supports Elena in a way only a best friend can. Plus, she's reliable. You can count on Meredith, that's for sure.

*/Matt Honeycutt/*
Matt is all-American kind of guy with blonde hair and athletic build. He's good-natured and open-minded and has a good sense of right and wrong.
Poor Matt. I don't know what he sees in Elena, but he doesn't seem to be able to get over the break-up. Oh, he's not being a jerk about it. It's the opposite, he's quite gentleman-like. He supports Elena and is level-headed.

Elena's former best friend, Caroline has auburn hair, is pretty and sneaky, and has a grudge against Elena the readers don't know of.
She's really petty and pathetic. I think the only reason Smith introduced her is because the story needed someone who is a pain in the ass.

the storyline
The Awakening is about Stefan and Elena, how he is new to the town and they fall for each other. The Struggle deals with Stefan-Elena-Damon and also Caroline's petty schemes to cause Elena trouble.
After all, the love triangle is the main theme of this book. Unfortunately, that's one of the elements in this book I don't get and can't relate to. No offense, but I just don't believe in love-in-first-sight, I'll-die-to-have-him kind of love. And I don't see what the vampire brothers see in Elena. She's beautiful, okay. She's strong, fine. But so what?? And the way Elena falls head over heels in Stefan and feel later attracted to Damon as well is just so unnatural.
All things considered, I should be just "meh" about this book, right? Wrong. I don't know why, but L. J. Smith has the talent of story telling. Vampire Diaries is the kind of book you read totally engrossed but after reading, you put down the book and think "Now, why exactly do I like this book?". Then you pick up the book again, and it all starts again.


Cait said...

I love meredith she's my fave character! I was so sad when they cut her out of the tv show.

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