|The original 90's cover|
I have a regrettable taste for teen soap operas, so it should come as no surprise to anyone that I'm a fan of the TV show The Vampire Diaries. I'd never read the books, though, so this weekend I decided to dive into the first one, The Awakening by L.J. Smith. Here's the blurb:
A Love Triangle of Unspeakable Horror...
Searching for the ultimate thrill, she vowed to have Stefan.
Haunted by his tragic past, he struggled to resist her passion.
Driven by revenge, he hunted the brother who betrayed him.
The terrifying story of two vampire brothers and the beautiful girl torn between them.
Doesn't that sound deliciously Old Skool, to borrow SB Sarah's favorite phrase? Unfortunately, the book worked about as well for me as most romances of the 70s through the early 90s do. That is, not at all.
The Elena of the book was a straight up Mean Girl. She is the acknowledged Queen of the School, and she's perfectly willing to use and abuse that power to get what she wants. I don't find this kind of character at all sympathetic, and it sets me up to root against her whenever possible.
Her obsession with Stefan was squicky as well. She thought this on the first day of school, having never even spoken to poor Stefan before:
She'd have him, even if it killed her. If it killed both of them, she'd have him.Um, ew. That's a bit extreme, don't you think? Even for an angsty teen romance, which tend to be a bit OTT anyway. And then there was this, toward the end of the book:
All she knew was that she needed to see him, to hear his voice, to feels his arms around her. Being away from him was like being separated from her own flesh.At least they were a couple by this point. I had a friend in high school who absolutely fell to pieces when her parents made her go on a band trip over Christmas break. She spent the whole time wracking up huge long distance charges on the hotel bill (I'm old. This was in the dark ages before every teenager had a cell phone.) and crying. I didn't understand this desperate attitude at 18 any more than I do now.
The pacing of the book was off for me, too. The middle of the book dragged terribly, and then all the interesting stuff happened in the last 30 pages or so. And most of that was Stefan explaining the backstory. Then Damon shows up and the book stops. It doesn't end, it just stops. There was a sample chapter from the next book in the series, and it picks up exactly where The Awakening stops, like they whacked the end off and glued it onto the next. That's not a cliffhanger, that's just a dirty trick.
I'm glad I got this one from the library, because I didn't like it at all. I think I'll stick to the TV show from now on. The characters, especially Elena, are much more relatable.