THE AWAKENING (Book 1):
I really disliked this book. Really disliked it. If I had to give it a star rating, I'd give it a 1 -- And I cringe at that because I hate giving poor reviews. As an author, I know how it stings. So, why didn't I like it? Well... The pacing was crazy fast. There were characters I wasn't used to. And OMG the head hopping! GAH! The characters I did know (and love) were not the same people, and that felt like a huge betrayal. Then again, had I read the books first then watched the TV show, I probably would've felt the same in reverse. The entire series was very episodic (no wonder it translated into a weekly TV show so easily) with each scene / chapter moving quickly with a lot of conflict and action. As such, there was almost no character development.
Elena was a stuck up, selfish snob who had no consideration whatsoever for her friends' wants or feelings. She used them to get what she wanted and never thought twice about it. I had no sympathy for her whatsoever--unlike the show, which made her a very sympathetic character right from the start.
Stefan was weak. Pathetically so. I know he's weaker physically because he drinks animal blood rather than human blood, but emotionally and mentally he was weak, too. And so whiny! I've always been #TeamDamon, but at least with the TV show, there was a chivalry and silent strength to Stefan that made him a good hero. I mean, that love triangle? WHOA! I seriously wonder if the author even likes Stefan with the way he's portrayed.
The supporting cast -- Caroline, Bonnie, Meredith, Matt, Aunt Judith, et al.-- weren't bad, but there wasn't really much characterization for any of them.
The plot was your typical vampire-human romance. Hello, Insta-love, my old friend ;-) There weren't enough pages in this book to build a believable romance. But I'm able to get past that because of the supernatural elements, and because I already know and love these characters from the show.
Stefan is the mysterious, handsome new guy in town. Popular Elena wants him, but he won't give her the time of day so she schemes to get him, and eventually does, but only after she happens upon him feeding on a bird. (Side note: If he's a vampire with super senses, how did he not hear or smell her coming??) Now that she knows his deepest secret, he gives in to their attraction. A bunch of people die. The town points the finger at Stefan, but Elena realizes it's his evil brother Damon. Stefan goes missing. Elena refuses to believe he left town because he's guilty and worries he's in trouble.
I was convinced I was not going to read anymore in this series. But then I got the end and holy cliffhanger! It ends with Elena screaming for Damon to show himself. This in and of itself angered me, too, because it literally stopped in the middle of the scene. Of course, I had to read the next book to find out what happened...
THE STRUGGLE (Book 2):
This book starts exactly where the previous one ended. It felt like I was simply starting the next chapter rather than beginning an entirely new book. Good thing I didn't have to wait months or years in between releases. I really wouldn't have been happy then!
The characters in this book were slightly better--maybe because I was becoming used to them. Elena wasn't as selfish and she didn't use her friends as much, either. That was refreshing. Stefan's still missing at the start of this book, so he didn't annoy me with his whining. There was a lot more Damon, too, which I LOVED! He was the same sexy, arrogant bad-boy that he is on the TV show.
The plot was a bit more exciting this time, too. Elena convinces Bonnie to embrace her budding witchy powers and tap into Stefan's mind in order to find him. She does, and they manage to find Stefan. With help from Matt and Meredith, Bonnie and Elena rescue Stefan. He's weak and badly beaten. They take him to his home, and Elena offers him her blood. He takes it. Then she takes a taste of his. She vows to keep his secret. He gets all better. Elena comes clean to her friends that Damon is the killer. They believe her without question. (Uh...okay??) She makes a deal with Damon and ends up sharing blood with him, too. Then she lies to Stefan about her encounter with Damon and his efforts to "have her." (That's true love right there!) Near the end of the book, Elena feels a presence in a brewing storm and while attempting to flee, she drives off a bridge.
Again, I convinced myself I wasn't going to read anymore, but then I was smacked with another cliffhanger, and I had to know what happens. It's so strange, because despite my complaints, I'm actually enjoying these books, and I have no idea why. Stay tuned for my reviews on the next two books: The Fury and Dark Reunion.
Have you read The Vampire Diaries? Have you watched the show? Share your thoughts in the comments!