The Vampire Diaries: The Reunion, the fourth book in the series by L.J. Smith, was written from the perspective of Bonnie McCullough. Elena Gilbert was dead – gone from the world, but still helping her friends in a form like an angel. Her of communication were slightly disturbing, seeing as they relied so heavily on Bonnie’s psychic abilities and were hindered by some darker force.
By the time I thought I was growing accustomed to L.J. Smith’s new writing style, she reverted back to her beautiful form of adjective-packed description and delightful choice. This causes me to think the author saves her most beautiful writing for Elena Gilbert in her human form – the heroine who might not be dead after all. All my complaining about the previous two novels might be put to rest after I read the emotionally-driven, action-oriented ending of the fourth book.
Caroline Forbes, the character who readers loved to hate in the second novel, begins the fourth novel as stuck-up, somewhat sorry for her past deeds regarding Elena, and rich enough to throw parties for people who don’t want them. Bonnie and Meredith feel obligated to play along with Caroline’s party plans until something goes terribly wrong. Plunged into darkness, the party attendees go into a panic and another fellow student ends up dead. What they didn’t know was that another killer was born.
Several times, whether sleeping or intentionally falling into a trance, Bonnie communicates with Elena. It was Elena’s force, her own personal power, that made this connection as she attempted to foretell of the danger coming to Fell’s Church and to help Bonnie respond to the danger. However, the communication was often marred by the greater evil, a creature of the night, as he tried to to veil himself and his plans for Fell’s Church and Elena’s friends.
Bonnie, more than just a little clever, was able to decipher Elena’s meaning and summon the Salvatore brothers back to Fell’s Church from Europe. In so doing, the readers had the chance to experience the hopelessness of Stefan Salvatore, the restored arrogance of Damon Salvatore, and the renewed fighting spirit in Matt Honeycutt. Meredith’s family history was also explored when the friends needed to find a former victim of the evil they were trying to fight.
Halfway through the novel, Tyler Smallwood is determined to be an official bad character. Considering how petty and juvenile Tyler had been in the previous books, it came as no surprise that he was not the head of the evil force behind the continued deaths. For the evil that the friends were facing was something from before Stefan and Damon Salvatore were born. It was something that would awaken the disturbed grounds of Fell’s Church and lead to an epic battle. But the most joyous part of the ending story I shall leave unsaid.
I believe I was too harsh in my reviews for the second and third books of The Vampire Diaries. I’m beginning to believe L.J. Smith is a better writer than I had ever imagined. When she writes about Elena Gilbert, she writes about light and passion and joy. When she writes about Damon Salvatore, she writes about barely controlled danger. And when it comes to Stefan, it’s all about grief and sorrow.
L.J. Smith knows how to portray different elements of the real world in a different format, in this case in a world of vampires. She also knows how to reach the heart of her audience through the human characters, such as Matt Donovan. Once again, Matt and Stefan touched my heart with their encouraging words to each other:
“When you get down to it, though, I don’t know any more than you do. I can’t tell you if there’s a point or if things are ever going to turn out all right.” Stefan looked straight into Matt’s eyes and spoke deliberately. “But I’ve got another question for you. So what?”Vampire Diaries: The Reunion, p. 102-103
Matt stared. “So what?”
“Yeah. So what.”
“So what if the universe is evil and if nothing we do to try and change it can really make any difference?” Matt’s voice was gaining volume with his disbelief.
“Yeah, so what?” Stefan leaned forwards. “So what are you going to do, Matt Honeycutt, if every bad thing you’ve said is true? What are you going to do personally? Are you going to stop fighting and swim with the sharks?”
Matt was grasping the back of his chair.
“What are you talking about?”
“You can do that, you know. Damon says so all the time. You can join up with the evil side, the winning side. And nobody can really blame you, because if the universe is that way, why shouldn’t you be that way too?”
“Like hell!” Matt exploded. His blue eyes were searing and he had half risen from his chair. “That’s Damon’s way, maybe! But just because it’s hopeless doesn’t mean it’s all right to stop fighting. Even if I knew it was hopeless, I’d still have to try. I have to try, damn it!”
“I know.” Stefan settled back and smiled faintly. It was a tired smile, but it showed the kinship he felt right then with Matt. And in a moment he saw by Matt’s face that Matt understood.
“I know because I feel the same way,” Stefan continued. “There’s no excuse for giving up just because it looks like we’re going to lose. We have to try – because the other choice is to surrender.”
The more books I read in The Vampire Diaries, the more I wish I could speak to the author. In addition to learning the morals she follows and the beliefs she holds, talking to L.J. Smith might influence and encourage me as a struggling writer. While parts of the fourth novel were slow reading, the ending more than made up for the first half. L.J. Smith knows how to write with heightened feeling, and I hope to emulate her one day.
I recommend this fourth novel in the series, even after the devastation that was experienced in the third book, because the keen sense of feeling and the depth of morality makes this a great read. I cannot wait for the fifth installment in the series. And I’m still holding on to hope for a happy ending for the Salvatore brothers.