The Vampire Diaries (Books & Show): A Review


Author: LJ Smith

Genre: Paranormal YA
Heat level: Sweet (although I'm convinced the blood exchange is a metaphor for sex)

Rating: ★★★3/4
Back Cover (from Amazon):
Elena: the golden girl, the leader, the one who can have any boy she wants.
Stefan: brooding and mysterious, he seems to be the only one who can resist Elena, even as he struggles to protect her from the horrors that haunt his past.

Damon: sexy, dangerous, and driven by an urge for revenge against Stefan, the brother who betrayed him. Determined to have Elena, he'd kill to possess her.
Collected here in one volume for the first time, volumes one and two of The Vampire Diaries, the tale of two vampire brothers and the beautiful girl torn between them.


First, let me say that I started watching this series on the CW before I read the books--a rarity for me. I usually make a point to read things before I watch them. But this time I was all like...I need a vampire reading break, I don't need to read these, I'll just check out the show. Yeah, okay, that didn't work. I ended up liking the show and that little nagging part of my brain kept whispering, "If you like the show, imagine how good the books must be. Books are always better..." So one day at Target I bought the first book on impulse even though my To Be Read pile was already daunting. A week and four books later, I poked my head up and was like--wait, I should probably sleep, right?

Things that rocked:
  • The story moves fast and kept me turning pages.
  • It reminded me of old school YA from my day. The story was definitely not as intricate and sophisticated as what you find in YA right now, but that was almost refreshing. A nice, linear fast read.
  • I ♥ Damon. Love a good bad boy (and thanks to the show, I had a lovely picture of him in my head already. Ian Sommerhalder is yummy goodness.)

  • Stefan, the hero, is pretty nice to read about and look at too...

  • Noticing all the Twilight similarities was kind of fun (and for those of you who don't know, these were written way before and there have been some conspiracy theories that Stephanie Meyer lifted some of her story from these. The stories were different enough for me and as you know nothing hasn't been done before, but you can see the parallels if you're looking for them.)
  • Although cliffhangers sometimes annoy me, the ones in these books were definitely effective. And by the fourth book, you have some wrap up (although there are more books that follow.)
Sour notes:
  • The 90s were apparently a time of kinder, gentler editors because LJ was able to get away with phrases like "she looked around the room interestedly" and "the fired burned smokily." Seriously.
  • Like many YA books, the main characters fell in love super quick, which is fine is the build up was believable. But here, it seemed a bit too quick. I understand a crush is fast, but "in love" should take a little more time.
  • The chemistry between Stefan and Elena was a little lackluster. This is where the show does a better job.
  • The fourth book seemed a little Scooby Doo in the sense that they were running around as a group trying to save the big bad mystery.
  • I wanted to see more of Damon--show does a better job here too.

Overall: Okay, I am going to do something unprecedented. I am going to recommend that you watch a few episodes of the TV show first, then read the books. *GASP* I know, must be a frosty day in hell. But having seen the show first actually enriched the books for me. I already had a good sense of the characters going in and I think that helped, for instance, with Elena and Stefan's quick developing relationship. Also, Elena in the book is blonde, bubbly, and a bit shallow (at first) whereas in the show she's dark-haired and much more serious and likeable. So no matter what the book said, I was picturing show Elena.
But wait, you say, I've already missed all those episodes of the show, I'll never catch up! Well, have no fear, the CW has your back (I've found this to be true in almost all crisis situations). This coming Monday they start a Vampire Diaries marathon week where they will replay all the episodes. Go check it out then pick up the books. And warning--get both volume one and two which contain the first four books. You want to be prepared when you reach those cliffhangers.

So are any of you watching the show? Have you read these books? What do you think of either? And have you ever had a show/movie trump the book?



**Today's Theme Song**
"Once Bitten, Twice Shy" - Great White

(player in sidebar if you'd like a listen)