The Vampire Diaries: The Awakening and The Struggle

13 05 2008

The Vampire Diaries The summer of 1992 was the summer of L.J. Smith. My fifth-grade self had grown slightly tired of R.L. Stine and Christopher Pike was still a little out there for me. I happened into my local bookstore, The Book Tree, which used to be housed in the Birchwood Mall until it closed in 1995 (I think), that summer and finally decided to pick one of The Vampire Diaries up. It was a trilogy at that point, one that I saw advertised in the back pages of every Harper Collins teen thriller book I had, and seemed like it might be just the thing I needed for delightful summer reading. On the fourth of July, I remember sitting on one of those plastic chaise lounges at Lake Antoine’s camp ground, eagerly finishing the last pages. It was an amazing trilogy by my eleven-year-old standards. I remember spending the rest of the summer getting caught up on the Fear Street releases I had neglected while still dabbling in Christopher Pike occasionally. The Vampire Diaries, however, continued to be the standard by which I measured every other thriller book.

I was surprised that it had taken Harper Collins so long to reissue the books, given the whole Twilight obsession. The stories are very similar: Elena, the golden girl of Robert E. Lee High School returns from a summer abroad in France to find Stefan Salvatore, a new student, attending her school She finds him irresistible and that he can easily resist her. Against a backdrop of strange deaths and supernatural occurrences, Elena plans and schemes to make Stefan hers, ultimately succeeding. She does not, however, plan on the arrival of Stefan’s Damon, a powerful vampire who also desires Elena and a grudge against Stefan.

Reading this book sixteen years later, it’s still a pretty entertaining read. The book’s comparisons to Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight are justified; they both detail the love of a teenage girl and a vampire, although Elena is not as finely drawn as Bella is. They are also very different characters: Elena is the gold standard of high school popularity while Bella is painted as more of an everygirl. Elena is hard to identify with whereas Bella is a bit more malleable. The Vampire Diaries also shows a little age; at certain points in the story, I stop and wonder why the characters haven’t whipped out a cell phone or looked on the web. It was published in 1991 – long before the mas spread of the cell phone or internet.

Overall, good stuff. The trilogy is now sold in two omnibus volumes, one containing the first two novels, The Awakening and The Struggle while the second contains The Fury and Dark Reunion. If my sixth-grade memory serves me well, skip Dark Reunion.

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