Title: Vampire Diaries: The Awakening
Author: L.J. Smith
Publisher: HarperCollins (HarperTeen), 1991
Where I got it: I bought this at Barnes & Noble.
Note: I bought and read this before the television show came out, so I don't know if the text was altered for the TV-tie-in editions of the book.
It looks like Elena has it all. Popularity, looks, lots of friends, and any guy she wants. That is, until Stefan Salvatore. The mysterious and gorgeous new Italian student seems to ignore her completely, and she is not used to being ignored. And so, Elena makes it her mission to win Stefan’s affection. If only she knew why he avoided her so completely.
Stefan is not completely of this world. He is a vampire, born in Renaissance Italy and doomed to an existence of what he perceives to be that of a predator, an evil being who must feed on blood in order to survive. When he sees Elena for the first time, he is shocked at her resemblance to a former love, the woman who led him to his fate. Despite his forced repulsion, he can’t help but be drawn to her, to fall in love again. But Stefan isn’t the only one who has his eye on the blonde beauty; another from his past has resurfaced, and an old war is revived. Stefan’s brother Damon is still stronger, but can he protect Elena from a different kind of predator? Or will Elena do the fighting for both of them?
This vampire series is one of the earliest I’ve found, first published in 1991. I think it’s this early publication date that makes the story so tame and chaste; the language is dated, as are the technologies and the ways the characters communicate and interact. This could turn off certain readers, but if you don’t mind reading a book set in the dark ages before the Internet and cell phones, then that shouldn’t be a problem.
The vampire legends are also very traditional here. They drink blood, as per usual; they must be invited into your house; they die in sunlight, though in this world they can wear a special talisman to protect them from the sun; you can’t see their reflections; they have super senses, especially at night; and they can alter the minds of those around them, as well as sensing another mind’s presence. They can also shapeshift, if we’re to take a hint from the presence of a menacing crow throughout the book.
Overall, this book wasn’t bad. Elena is a stronger female protagonist than a lot of the other ones I’ve seen, despite her original infatuation with Stefan. She tends to sacrifice some things for him, but the end of the first book in the series really shows just how strong she is (you’ll have to read it to know what I’m talking about; I won’t give it away). On the other hand, the plot was pretty predictable with not a whole lot of twists—the only thing that makes this book stand out is that the main vampire has a vampire brother, with whom he has shared a pretty violent rivalry since Renaissance Italy. Another thing I didn’t really get was why it was called Vampire Diaries in the first place—Elena keeps a diary and we occasionally see what she writes, but that’s about it. The title makes it seem like the diaries are integral to the story, but there is only one diary and it’s not really that important. As far as appropriateness goes, it’s pretty wholesome, though there are a couple of violent scenes and an attempted rape, but overall the narrative is fairly tame. I’d say it’s worth taking a look at if you enjoy reading vampire love stories, but maybe take it out of the library just in case it’s not your cup of blood—er, tea.