Rating: 4 out of 5 boxes
Target Audience: Teens who love good vampire drama
High point: The depth of the characters, especially of Stefan and Elena
Low point: Almost everyone acts older than they really are
Reader maturity: 13+
In The Awakening, we are introduced to Elena Gilbert, a teenager who lives with her aunt and younger sister. Due to the recent death of her parents, she is fairly mature for someone of her age. When a stranger comes to Falls Church, Elena, as the popular golden girl, is determined to catch him. The mysterious stranger, foretold by a friend's vision, brings a brother and arrives at an unstable time in Falls Church.
Elena seems like she could be a real person; she has her flaws, such as pride and vanity, but she tries to be a nice person, believing that popularity should be gained through friends, not enemies, though she is not averse to using her followers if the need arises. The "love at first sight" she experiences with Stefan seems plausible somehow, even though Elena is only 17 and they hardly know each other. When Damon arrives on the scene, the resulting triangle is obvious but well-constructed.
Elena's best friends, Bonnie and Meredith, are somewhat more two-dimensional. although interesting in their own ways. Unlike Elena, they both act older than their years with no explanation. They also tend to follow Elena's directions without question like amiable sheep.
L. J. Smith modifies the vampire myth somewhat by allowing Stefan and Damon to endure sunlight as long as they wear special rings, but other than that, the rules apply. They must be invited in and require regular feedings. While Stefan is a likable love interest, he is still truly a vampire, in all the ferocity that entails.
I first read these books in middle school and sought them out after they were republished. Anyone who is interested in a good vampire tale with all the trappings of the original myths, should try these out.
Title: The Vampire Diaries: The Awakening
Author: L. J. Smith
Genre: Young Adult Horror and Suspense
Book Source: Purchased