Before Twilight, there was another overdramatic tale of love between a teenage girl and a vampire. I speak, of course, of The Vampire Diaries. And lo, the drama and angst is strong with this one. Lets get this out of the way first, this is not a good book however it is a super fun walk down memory lane for me, and so I’m a bit biased. It is extremely enjoyable, and much like the Sweet Valley High books, so long as you don’t expect anything from it the book is fine.
I will say, that so far as vampire/teen romances go, this may be one of the better ones. Stefan is not a stalker and Elena has a very strong and forceful personality. And that the bar is set so low makes me just so sad. I know the later books get a little icky with the Damon romance, and that I am not here for, but this one manages to steer clear from that.
The plot is pretty basic. Elena Gilbert is the queen of the school and when newcomer Stefan Salvatore shows up on the first day of her senior year, Elena vows that she will have him. Stefan has a horrible, dark secret though. You see, he’s a vampire, born in the 15th century and cursed to walk the earth gaining his substance from the blood of animals. Because he’s not a killer. He is however, obsessed with Elena, who bears a striking resemblance to the woman he loved, a woman who turned him into a vampire shortly before dying. Unfortunately a darkness has followed him to Fells Church, VA and it is just as obsessed with Elena as he is.
Guys, it’s AWESOMELY bad. I can practically feel the EMOTIONS coming off of the page, and they are all-cap emotions. Despite the fairly basic writing, L.J. Smith does seem to have a grasp on the importance that teenagers place on their emotions. It is so overwrought and so intense that I can’t decide if L.J. Smith is mocking her readers (teen/preteen readers), or just using that intensity to her advantage.
I read this book, and all that followed, initially in the late 90s when I was the target demographic. As it was basically a supernatural version of Sweet Valley High, another one of my teenage guilty pleasures, there’s no surprise that I gobbled it up back then. However, the book is not really good and now that I’ve satisfied that bit of nostalgia I don’t feel the need to read the rest of the books. But it was a fun romp.
I do have one disclaimer and I think it comes out in the book’s favor. I couldn’t quite manage to separate out the book from the CW show of the same name. I quite enjoyed the first couple of seasons of the CWs version, and it pulled (plot and characters) a lot more from the books then I initially remembered watching the show. But because of that comparison some of the characters, who vary from basic stereotypes to flat out caricatures in the novel, are rounded out by the characters from the show.
Should you read it? I don’t know. Like I said above, I think if you’re looking for a teen/vampire romance you could do worse. But honestly, no. I picked it up cheap from an Amazon Kindle sale only because nostalgia is a strong thing. And I’m sure that people who do not have the nostalgia factor will find it utterly and completely ridiculous.