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Friday, December 2, 2011

Guest Review: The Vampire Diaries–The Awakening by L.J. Smith

A deadly love triangle

Elena: beautiful and popular, the girl who can have any guy she wants.

Stefan: brooding and mysterious, desperately trying to resist his desire for Elena . . . for her own good.

Damon: sexy, dangerous, and driven by an urge for revenge against Stefan, the brother who betrayed him.

Elena finds herself drawn to both brothers . . . who will she choose?

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My Review:

With the influx of vampire and supernatural romance stories hitting U.S. shelves, it is rare to have an older series modernized to the point it can compete with the new ideas flowing from bookshelves. Thanks to the vampire media hype, The Vampire Diaries Series (originally written from 1991- 1992 by L.J. Smith) was picked up for a pilot in 2009 and has become a hit television show for The CW network.

I, like several people I've encountered, often wonder about the adaptability and integrity a show can hold once it is deemed “loosely based” on novel. I have been a fan of the show since the pilot, but as with True Blood (2008); I needed to read the original story. I was dying to know what was so wonderful about the books that it deserved it's own “loosely based” television show. I am happy to say that the two, while being “loosely based”, are completely separate entities in themselves. Which in my opinion is a great thing.

The book being reviewed today is the first book in The Vampire Diaries Series, The Awakening. What makes these books so unique is that the series title says it all. There will be vampires and someone will write in a diary. The opening scene in the book is from Elena Gilbert, the main protagonist's, point of view via a diary entry. The way she views herself and the world around her can be shocking at times. She is a very detail-oriented with a strong sense of the sociological nature of those around her thanks to her past manipulative behavior.

Elena is said to be beautiful with golden blonde hair, lapiz lazuli colored eyes (for those who don't know, it is a bright blue stone with white and gold flecks), porcelain skin and slender. She refers to herself in the first entry as “the girl every boy wanted and every girl wanted to be”. Full of herself? Possibly. Whether she is highly self confident or downright cocky makes her an unusual heroine for a story.

As she admits all of the wonderful things about herself as well as her life as the queen of a small town high school you get the sense there is a but coming. Elena's “but” comes in the form of her lost and somewhat misplaced feeling. She was orphaned three years previous, along with her four-year-old sister Margaret. She is currently living with her Aunt Judith and Judith's long time boyfriend Robert in the small town of Fell's Church. While never actually dealing with her parent's death properly, she seems to have lost a sense of herself which she was obviously dependent on them for.

In the beginning, I admit, I had no sympathy towards Elena. She seemed like every stuck up and popular girl I had ever met. She felt shallow, annoying and sometimes crass (especially when she spoke of boys to her friends). It wasn't until she left her home to find a crow staring at her that I began to feel the slightest bit of sympathy. She jumped, scared of something as simple as a bird. It might sound insane, but for a girl who can put on a show in public of being a fearless and strong young woman to be afraid of something so insignificant, something that in the scheme of things has no true bearing on her at the time, shows that she is not all right. She is dealing with insecurities and an inner turmoil that makes her real in a way her speaking to her journal couldn't convey.

After Elena's brief encounter with the crow, (who she said looked at her, “As if it were

undressing her with its eyes.”) she once again finds the strength and determination to face her peers on the first day of her senior year.

The story then flies into the next protagonist. His name is Stefan Salvatore and immediately you get the feeling that something with him is not right. Stefan, a young man who looks about 17 years old is in a clearing holding a lifeless, white rabbit. He is babbling about hunger and his needs. Immediately, my mind goes to vegetarian vampire. I almost groaned, pleading with him not to be sparkly in the sunlight. Thankfully, there is no glitter in Stefan's future. He is a vampire (he doesn't say so, but his feeding from wildlife and the description of him “looking like a normal high school student” is good enough for me).

Stefan, with his high cheekbones, dark curly hair, leaf green eyes and classic nose and pouty lips is a tortured soul. Stuck in time as a vampire has only created a brooding creature who seems more lost than Elena. After giving a slight back story about leaving Italy to live in Fell's Church, Virginia to begin a new life, you get the sense that Stefan has no idea who he is or why he is still living. He seems to be going through the motions, more than embracing the gift of immortality. Luckily, it is his first day of school at Robert E. Lee High School, the same school as Elena Gilbert.

In the first couple chapters several relevant characters are introduced. Meredith, one of Elena's best friends is described as being slender with long dark hair, elegant features and olive skin that doesn't require makeup. Bonnie, another of Elena's best friends who is pixie-like with strawberry blonde curls and green eyes. Matt Honeycutt, the All-American, blond haired, blue eyed, football player and ex-boyfriend. And Caroline Forbes, more of a frenemy than an actual friend. She is slender like a vogue model with long auburn hair and green eyes. As if Elena wasn't making me jealous enough of my own social status in the world, I was blessed with reading about all these lovely friends that were all unique and beautiful in their own way. It was heartbreaking to say in the least, once I took my hopeless loner status into account.

The girls talk outside the school, doing whatever popular fashionista-type girls do before school when a mysterious black, Porsche 911Turbo rolls into the school parking lot. The girls turn and catch their first glimpse of Stefan Salvatore. I could go on about the mild bickering that goes on between Elena and Caroline for the first few hours of Stefan's arrival, but I will cut to the chase. Elena has found something she wants and she is determined to get it.

For a few chapters her escapades in getting Stefan to take notice of her are mildly reminiscent of the 1995 movie, Clueless. She makes up a fake boyfriend to make him jealous, attempts to introduce herself as a school guide to show him around (and catch some one-on-one time), she even uses her excuse of being Homecoming Queen to her advantage (hoping he will not refuse her for a dance). Eventually, she gives up when she see's she has lost and Caroline has become his escort for the Homecoming Dance.

Heartbroken and looking for someone to show her attention, she leaves the dance with Tyler Smallwood (The ironic sexual innuendo there had me chuckling for days) and a few of his friends. Getting stuck in an awkward and potentially dangerous situation ensues and who comes to her rescue? None other than the brooding and extremely handsome, Stefan Salvatore. The story progresses when they both admit their unyielding as well as undying (yet she has no idea he is a vampire) love for one another.

If this hasn't gotten you amazed with the story of teen angst and forbidden love, perhaps I should mention the best character of all. See, Stefan isn't the only vampire in Fell's Church. He has been blessed with a gorgeous older brother, Damon. Now, if you think Stefan is a bit of a baby and his brooding is annoying, you will love Damon.

Damon, a stronger vampire than Stefan (due to his drinking human blood), is everything you might expect from a vampire who has embraced his nature. He is slightly shorter than Stefan with straight black hair and black eyes. He dresses in black from head to toe -a stark contrast against his pale pallor- and he is the most sarcastic, charming and witty character. While he only holds a few guest appearances in this book, he makes a strong showing in each of them that pushes you to read more and dive into his world to find out more about this mysterious man who can make Elena forget about her love, Stefan.

With Damon mentioned, and a love triangle beginning to erupt; I can now get to my final analysis of The Awakening. While sometimes it can feel slow-going, there is a lot of action I didn't mention in hopes you will take the time to read the short sixteen chapters. Things such as random attacks and a murder in such a quaint town tends to cause more of a ruckus than it would in a larger city. This is obviously the foundation of the series. It goes into details about each character’s nature such as Bonnie being a natural witch thanks to her Druid heritage. Along with an extensive explanation of why both brothers would be drawn to Elena other than her wonderful personality and stunning beauty.

Without any doubts in my mind, I would give the book four kisses. While there is no actual sex, there is some hot and heavy making out that can make even this adult blush, a solid story, and enough action and suspense to keep you hanging on the edge of your seat wondering what might happen next.



  1. Damon (He really is the star of the book)
  2. Elena and her band of fashionista misfits
  3. The almost classic take on vampires. No need to come up with something cool or wacky, they are just awesome.
  4. Unexpected action



  1. Sometimes feels a bit slow
  2. There is one heck of a cliffhanger so be prepared with book 2, The Struggle to be nearby.




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K r y s t l e Red heart

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