L.J. Smith’s The Vampire Diaries: The Awakening will trance every woman, young or old, with its seductive, heady, sensual, yet clean storytelling. Created initially for teenaged young women between thirteen and seventeen years of age, The Vampire Diaries series has taken a long journey into fandom around the world. American screen writers even televised the series as an eight-season show which was wildly popular at the time of its appearance.
Based on the many reviews found for The Vampire Diaries TV show and book collections, some customers preferred the televised series over the books. I find this to be unfair to L.J. Smith, because she wrote about Elena Gilbert and Stefan and Damon Salvatore long before the American show came into being. I therefore am here to review The Vampire Diaries: The Awakening in its original format: a novel.
Elena Gilbert is a senior student at the high school in Fell’s Church, but she isn’t an ordinary student. Elena is the Homecoming Queen, the most popular girl in her class with her own set of vassals and lieges – or so she and her friends think of themselves. Matt Donovan is the boy who is simply lucky enough to date her Highness, Elena.
Caroline had known Elena since childhood, but took a left turn at the very beginning of the novel and declared herself to be Elena’s rival in regards to finding the perfect boy. Elena’s cool acceptance of Caroline’s betrayal in their friendship was shocking and disappointing. Bonnie and Meredith had remained loyal to Elena while she had spent her summer in Paris, and quickly buddied-up with her.
Then a visitor drove his Porsche into the school parking lot, exited his vehicle, and strolled into the building in his Armani leather jacket. All the girls were naturally transfixed at the sight of this handsome, dark stranger. Several of the boys, such as varsity player Tyler Smallwood and his friend Dick, viewed him as trespassing on their property, both in terms of the available girls and the varsity football team.
Elena wanted the stranger. To get this stranger, Elena had to enlist the help of all her friends. Why would an obviously good-looking teenage boy avoid the Homecoming Queen? Well, Stefan had secrets of his own, secrets of who he was and what he had done in his past.
Stefan Salvatore and his older brother Damon are vampires. When Stefan completely drained a wild rabbit of its blood, he felt remorse – actual, tear-jerking remorse!
Damon, on the other hand, seems to have absolutely no remorse in feeding on people. Unfortunately for Stefan, Damon’s acceptance of his vampirism and the darkness surrounding the monstrosity of its existence made Damon stronger than his brother. And Damon had only two things on his mind: to torture his brother in any way possible, and to pursue Elena Gilbert . Entering into this love triangle will involve more passion, obsession, jealousy and hatred than anything Elena has ever experienced before.
The feel of the novel drew me in instantly. I could understand the arrogance of Elena and her friends, despite my distaste for their obvious lack of character. I could sense the awkwardness of the fellow students. Stefan’s pain was almost unbearably palatable, both in his heroic actions and personal despair. And the romance? I’ll give a small snippet to you from L.J. Smith’s own hand:
Her knocking sounded very timid. “Stefan?”
She could hear nothing from inside, but suddenly the door swung open. Everyone must look pale and tired today, thought Elena, and then she was in his arms.
Those arms tightened about her convulsively. “Elena. Oh, Elena…”
Then he drew back. It was just the way it had been last night; Elena could feel the chasm opening between them. She saw the cold, correct look gather in his eyes.
“No,” she said, hardly aware that she spoke aloud. “I won’t let you.” And she pulled his mouth down to hers.
For a moment there was no response, and then he shuddered, and the kiss became searing. His fingers tangled in her hair, and the universe shrank around Elena. Nothing else existed but Stefan, and the feel of his arms around her, and the fire of his lips on hers.Vampire Diaries: The Awakening, p. 130
I would hazard a guess that anyone who has ever written any fiction can see the brilliance in L.J. Smith’s choice of wording. The way she combines the varying verbs and adjectives enthralls the senses. I probably have a small advantage over the intended reader in understanding the verbiage since I’m twice their age. Am I ashamed to be reading a romance novel intended for teens? Not in the slightest.
As a Christian, I like my romances to be clean. As an aspiring writer, I want more than the common phrase of “his beautiful eyes and handsome features.” The phrase may have a little more variance in novels than I stated, but often not much more. L.J. Smith’s writing style captured my interest in the beginning and kept it all the way to the very last word. Stefan Salvatore’s character also made me, the reader, fall more deeply into the storyline than I have with any book in quite some time.
I highly recommend this introductory novel to The Vampire Diaries series to everyone who enjoys a complicated and dramatic romance. While the main character may have personality flaws that are hard to overlook, I imagine she will be growing in those areas as I continue through the series. I personally am looking forward to reading and learning more about the original Elena Gilbert and Stefan and Damon Salvatore, because I believe the story will end up being much more than about the hero, the villain, and the damsel in distress.