Challenge Update: The Vampire Diaries

awakeningI just finished reading the first three books in the Vampire Diaries series as part of the Childhood Favorites challenge, hosted by Debbie.

This YA series by LJ Smith was one of my favorites when I was in elementary school and I thought it would be fun to revisit it and see whether my opinion of The Awakening, The Struggle, and The Fury has changed eighteen years later.

And the answer is yes, and no. 

They were definitely fun to read again and I was surprised at how many parts I remembered almost word for word.  The books tell the story of Elena Gilbert, a high school senior who rules the school and always gets her way, and two vampire brothers, Stefan and Damon, one that loves her and the other that will do anything to possess her.struggle

Stefan came to Fell’s Church, Virginia to try to start a new life and find a chance to be accepted among humans again.  When he sees Elena for the first time he’s instantly reminded of Katherine, his first love who turned him and his brother into vampires during the 15th century.  The story that unfolds is about the relationship between Elena and Stefan as she discovers his true nature and tries to reconcile the two brothers, who’ve been sworn enemies since Katherine died, each blaming the other for her death.  Along the way there are brutal attacks on Elena’s classmates, psychic premonitions by one of Elena’s best friends, Bonnie, and the slaying of a history teacher, and that’s just in book one.

I still really like the story but this time around it was the characters that fell flat.  When I was a kid I remember idolizing Elena and wanting to be like her when I was in high school.  Now I really hope I wasn’t.  She’s a bit of a self-centered, spoiled brat who uses people to her own ends and whines when she doesn’t get what she wants.  All the characters seemed a little immature and naive and they acted more like middle school students to me (did you really still call guys “boys” when you were a high school senior?).  Many of the characters are fairly one-dimensional and not well rounded, which makes them seem less than realistic.  Bonnie is a little too giggly and bubbly and Meredith is a little too stoic.

furyThe one exception being Damon.  He was always my favorite character and I still found him devilishly delightful this time.  Dangerous, yes, monstrous, at times, but gorgeous, powerful, and charming.  Three traits I find irresistible in a vampire. 

It was still a lot of fun to revisit Fell’s Church and get all wrapped up in Stefan’s brooding and Elena’s teenage angst, but honestly if I had just picked these books up for the first time today I probably wouldn’t be that thrilled about them.  But they’re quick reads and definitely brain candy.  I’ll probably read the fourth book, Dark Reunion, too because I don’t really remember what happens in that one.  I just checked out LJ Smith’s website and apparently she’s continuing the series with three more installments.  I might have to add them to my wish list to see what Elena and the Salvatore brothers have been up to! 

YA seems to be a really popular genre right now among adults and I’ve gotten tons of recommendations for other vampire/fantasy series so I might give those a try and see how they compare.

Have you read The Vampire Diaries?  What do you think about YA?



  1. Jody Said:

    I love YA fiction, vampires and TV, so when I heard The CW was making the books into a TV show, I couldn’t wait to read them. But, I was extremely disappointed. As you mentioned, the characters are weak, with the “heroine” being pretty wretched. My review is here:

    Thankfully, the show isn’t very faithful to the books, and it’s really been quite enjoyable!

    • Jamye Said:

      Just commented on your review!

      I’ve been watching the show and it’s definitely got its hooks in me. I LOVE Damon! Elena is a completely different character and it’s interesting that they left out Meredith entirely. I’ll be sticking around to see what happens!

      And unlike True Blood, I don’t have to wait until it comes out on Netflix to watch it! So sad not having HBO..

      • Jody Said:

        I’m hooked on the show too! I love Damon too! And I was very impressed that he helped Elena & Stefan with her brother like that.

        I’m in the same boat with True Blood as well. I bought the 1st season on DVD, but haven’t seen the 2nd yet. The Sookie books are actually better than the series though!

  2. Debbie Said:

    I loved this series growing up but when I recently reread it I didn’t care for it as much.

    • Jamye Said:

      I wonder if I’ll feel the same way about the other childhood favorites I’m going to re-read. Hope not!

  3. Jamye Said:

    Jody, I agree! The show is good but I definitely like the books better. I read the 4th one recently and couldn’t put it down. I love Eric so I really liked the plot of that one. I bought the next two so I can’t wait to see what happens next!

    I’m interested to see if Elena is drawn to Damon later on in the show or if she only goes for Stefan (if she ever stops changing her mind about whether she wants to be involved with him!!). I’m rooting for Damon. I’m glad Vickie’s gone though, her character was pretty annoying!

  4. I liked the books and even enjoy the new tv series. I’m a huge urban fantasy YA fan!

    • Jamye Said:

      Hi Alyssa,

      Thanks for stopping by! What are some of your favorites in that genre?

  5. Stunning, I did not heard about that up to the present. Thx.

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