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Saturday, December 17, 2011

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

Elena: transformed, the golden girl has become what she once feared and desired.

Stefan: tormented by losing Elena, he's determined to end his feud with Damon once and for all—whatever the cost. But slowly he begins to realize that his brother is not his only enemy.

Damon: at last, he possesses Elena. But will his thirst for revenge against Stefan poison his triumph? Or can they come together to face one final battle?

Collected here in one edition are the third and fourth volumes of The Vampire Diaries, a riveting conclusion to the tale of two vampire brothers and the beautiful girl torn between them.

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My Review:

Everyone craves mystery, suspense, and the un-dying love of two star-crossed lovers that can only bring up images of a vampiric Romeo and Juliet to mind when they read a vampire novel. It isn’t the immortality that draws people in, it’s the romance and the thought of creatures that lived in a time more civilized and refined than the culture we are currently floundering in. I would say that The Vampire Diaries: Dark Reunion has all of the mystery, suspense and romance; perhaps a little more to spare. Unfortunately, what it lacks is the love triangle that brought people into reading the series in the first place. It is hard to have a love triangle when the main protagonist is a ghost.

I know, some sort of spoiler alert should have been mentioned, but alas, let’s get real. If you read the last three books in the series, you will know our lovely heroine, Elena Gilbert, has not only died once, but twice now. If she isn’t more of a trouble magnet than the illustrious Sookie Stackhouse, from The Southern Vampire Mysteries, I don’t know who is. Problem with this, she is still kicking it in a ghost realm while she looks out for the people of Fell’s Church.

Dark Reunion is written entirely from Bonnie McCullough’s point of view. I would say it is a nice change, but if anyone thought Elena was a bit shallow and slightly self-absorbed, they haven’t seen anything yet. For things to make sense, I will have to set the story up a bit for you. The story begins June 6th, 1992. No longer evil, Caroline is setting up a surprise party with Bonnie for Meredith’s eighteenth birthday, graduation is in two weeks, and the characters are still having difficulty dealing with Elena’s death six months prior. Our favorite Salvatore brothers are gone, having left after Elena’s death and no one has heard from them.

They agree on the guest list for the party that will be held at Caroline’s house; Caroline, Bonnie, Meredith, Sue Carlson, and Vicki Bennett. Where all the fun ingredients are missing in this wholesome night, the danger is replaced by an Ouija board and Bonnie telling people she can see Elena in dreams. I didn’t mention that? Shame on me. Bonnie, thanks to her psychic/medium link can reach Elena in her dreams. The first and only dream she had at this point was compared to being something between “Stephen King and Lewis Carroll” in its weirdness. Mice and mud sandwiches, anyone? Yeah, thought so. Turns out, someone is controlling the dreams and he is big and bad.

Caroline suggests grabbing the Ouija board to try and contact Elena. Under ordinary circumstances I would say they are stupid, those things are not a toy, however, they forge through and make a connection. It is strong and somehow Elena has enough power to tell Caroline to stop being a jerk, Bonnie to not go into traces, warn them of danger, request they do a summoning spell, and let them know something seriously bad is about to happen before they freak out and the power is cut and the girls act like girls, screaming and separating through the house.

Suspense is coming. Bonnie is grabbed by a big, sweaty hand that isn’t Meredith’s! There is someone in the house other than the girls. Meredith helps Bonnie escape, but loses Sue, Caroline, and Vicki in the process. They reach out with all of their senses just to hear Sue and Vicki upstairs. A noise, a crash, a scream, and Sue is dead on the ground with Vicki catatonic (again). “He’s coming for me next” seems to be Vicki’s new motto as she gives up, knowing her life is forfeit, but the band of friends won’t let that happen. Lights come back on and flash over to the next day at school. Everyone is there and as they seem to do in this town, they write Sue’s death off as being an accident due to a few confused girls in the dark. Bonnie is fuming! Elena this , Elena that…everyone looks at her like she is crazy for thinking she is a witch and can speak with Elena who is dead. She majorly ruined all of her credibility.

With all of this bad going on, there is still one character that seems unredeemable. Tyler Smallwood. He is still a pain in their behinds and he is not letting them forget it, but he does release a little clue to help them solve the big bad problem. The score is one for Bonnie, zero for dumb jock. While standing around the school, Bonnie finally has the sense to shut up and think. When that occurs, magic happens. She realizes who Elena would want them to summon. The brooding, self-loathing, Stefan Salvatore. Yes, because when I am in danger, I would call the weaker of the brothers. Matt Honeycutt, who joined the pair of girls outside the school, decided he wants to help. Being the smartest of the jocks in their small town, he figures out where to get the blood and hair they need for the summoning spell.

Now, we finally get to see what the Salvatore brothers are up to in Italy. Not much has changed. Damon is feeding off girls and leaving them mentally untouched, leaving Stefan to clean up. Slight change is he is only feeding off girls who look like Elena. Creepy? Kind of, but that sort of behavior is expected from Damon. Stefan, well, nothing has changed with him. He is still brooding and depressed. I am beginning to think that condition is caused by the lack of people in his diet. I know I would be upset if someone told me I had to live the rest of my life on Slim Fast. Anyways, they are awake and available to get a message from Bonnie that says they are in danger. Coming to the rescue, Stefan hops the first flight and takes off for Fell’s Church to save the day, with Damon lazily following behind.

Now, I would like to get into the romance part of this book. Even though Elena is dead, Stefan won’t give her up. They are like some type of mated pair and it gives them this unbreakable bond. Even I, who am not all that fond of the brooding brother, have a soft spot which brought me to tears twice while reading. The one in the forefront of my mind is Stefan’s first confrontation with our big bad. The love he has for Elena, while in my opinion is misguided, carries this pureness that is so rare to feel from a fictional character. When he sees her there is no wrong, no bad, nothing but her. It is heartbreaking.

Finally, instead of ruining the entire book, I will get to my final assessment. While I don’t like Bonnie’s point of view at all, and I am missing my favorite character, Damon, through seventy percent of the book; it is a necessary read. If you are like me and can’t stand reading anything other than Damon or the love triangle, I suggest skipping to page 306 for a nice mental image of naked Damon eating an orange, page 317 of him in a black Ferrari, or skip to the last three chapters so you can witness a hero being born. I reluctantly give The Vampire Diaries: Dark Reunion three kisses. While it is not my favorite book in the series, it is enjoyable. It does have character growth for Matt, Meredith, Bonnie, and Damon. We finally get to hear Mrs. Flowers speak. That woman is a hoot! It is not a bad book at all; it is necessary to the storyline. It is just not my favorite.


1. A complex plot with tons of action and murders to solve.

2. Seeing Stefan at his most vulnerable. There is a very human quality behind his actions in this book.

3. When Damon is in the book, his actions are precise, controlled and well thought out. Even though he is around for a very short time, there is a growing contradiction in his character between the vampire beast and a tenderness he has never shown.

4. Meredith’s secret past is partially revealed.

5. Matt officially becomes one of “the group”.

6. You will recognize the bad guy from the television show. Always good to have a reference for crazy.


1. Lack of substance in Bonnie’s journal entries.

2. Totally absurd but necessary ending.

3. Tyler Smallwood. The kid is a prick and he’s barely in the book. I’m just sayin’.



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