Book Review: The Vampire Diaries- Books 1 – 4

Here is the Synopsis from L Jane Smiths Website:

“The Vampire Diaries, Volume I: The Awakening, HarperPaperbacks, 1991
The most haunting love triangle of all.  Two vampire brothers, one good and one evil, are in love with the same beautiful girl.  Stefan meets Elena, and falls for her instantly.  But he swears never to approach her because of his dark secret.  On the other hand, Elena has sworn to make Stefan hers or die.

The Vampire Diaries, Volume II: The Struggle, HarperPaperbacks, 1991
Damon is haunting Elena’s footsteps; coaxing and coercing her by turns.  Stefan desperately tries to protect her from his brother.  And Elena is having her blood drawn by two separate vampires.  Meanwhile Caroline plots to expose Elena in front of the entire town.  Can things get worse?  They do, when Elena drives too fast over an unsafe bridge and drowns.

The Vampire Diaries, Volume III: The Fury, HarperPaperbacks, 1991
It’s happened.  Elena wakens as a vampire.  She belongs to Damon, now, and to his world.  The town mourns her as dead while she haunts the Old Wood by night.  But by the time she remembers that Stefan is her true love, a new and powerful enemy appears.  This is the last battle; and the only way Elena can win it is to sacrifice herself.

The Vampire Diaries, Volume IV: Dark Reunion, HarperPaperbacks, 1991
As a psychic, Bonnie has dreams of Elena in the Other World. But the dreams quickly turn frightening.  There is a terrible new enemy stalking Fell’s Church, killing young girls.  Elena’s friends call for Stefan and get both him and Damon—but whose side is Damon on? The ending is the most surprising yet for Elena!

Now on shelves and at Amazon: Vampire Diaries: The Return: Nightfall;
and now on the site: The Trees, a teaser for Nightfall.”

Let me open my review of these books with the statement- I have read all 4 of these books at least five times each.  LJ Smith’s disturbing determination to have a happy ending at the end of all of her stories have fantastically enabled my disturbing determination to escape into happy fantasy worlds: D

I have to review this series as all 4 books in one even though I have just re-read them simply because the story could be one long book.  None of these could be stand-alone books, but the entire story flows very well.  We open up with a popular girl who has just come back from a summer abroad and has determined that something terrible is coming her way.  Now, there are a couple of things that I can’t relate to in this character right off the bat- I was not popular, I do not look like a model- unless you are talking about Tracey Turnblad, and I don’t have to debate how best to break up with my boyfriend.  Of all of the female leads that I’ve read by LJ Smith to date (Cassie, the Night World Women, and Elena) she is by far the least Amazonian of the bunch. 

I remember reading these books and likening myself to the weirdness of these girls and thinking- They are odd and they are popular in high school, there must still be some hope for me!  I was DEFINATLY deluding myself there- my high school years are a bit of a blur right now and from what I can remember, I lived life in a fiefdom that I didn’t venture too far out of.

So, back to Elena.  We follow her on the first day of school where she sees a hot new guy and determines that he WILL be hers!  Now, what she intended to do with him, we will never know- LJ keeps it VERY PG 13 in her books.  The plot begins to thicken with weird stuff happening and Elena “sensing” stuff and Bonnie having premonitions.  Their third wheel Meredith is a character that I’ve always like, but would love to know why she didn’t play a bigger part in the story- she was very solid and logical and calm.  We follow the relationship between Elena and Caroline that has seemed to officially disintegrate until we end up at the homecoming dance.

They go, they dance, Caroline is there with Stefan and Elena gets jealous and reckless.  This recklessness leads to our main characters declaring their love for each other as Stefan charges in to rescue Elena from being assaulted by Tyler Lockwood.  BTW- this is pretty much a different story that the TV show, which could be apparent from the town’s name- Fells Church, VA- not Mystic Falls, VA.

OK- back to the purpose, SPOILER ALERT!!!! So we meet the evil Brother Damon whose sole purpose in this seems to be redemption.  Damon tries to woo Elena and eventually manipulates her into letting him drink her blood (innuendo much??).  This leads to one too many blood exchanges and when Damon and Stefan’s evil ex Catherine pushed Elena’s car off of a bridge and drowned her, which only served to turn her into a vampire.

What follows is a Scooby-doo esk who-dun-it search for the great evil in which we talk to a ghost and everyone come together to defeat the crazy Catherine and unfortunately, Elena dies in the struggle.  This is the end of book 3.  Book 4 brings us back to Fells Church 6 months later.  Stefan is following Elena’s wishes and reconciling with his psychopathic, homicidal brother when Bonnie summons them back.  There’s a new evil- they need to stop it.

I like the fact that we find out so much more about the OTHER characters in this particular book.  Bonnie becomes a much more kick ass witch and Meredith has a bigger role to play with more development of her personality.  We get to see Matt deal with Elena’s death, rebirth, and redeath- all in one place- and we get to see all of their resentment focused on Stefan and Damon.  All of this in the context of let’s kill the crazy old vampire.  Apparently Catherine’s maker didn’t appreciate them killing her.

Plot aside- I can’t explain why I love this series as much as I do.  I read these 4 when they were first released in 1991 and beyond, but I am exceptionally excited that she’s written MORE of the Vampire Diaries!!  She has extended the series and all of the attention that the CW’s new TV show has created a buzz and I can actually get my hands on the rest of the book series that LJ has written!  Whoot!  I’m going sleepy-bye now.

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