One thing followers of my reading diary will have to get used to is my obsession with vampires. Whether they be sparkly & vegetarian or viscous & bloody, I loves me the vamps!!! That being said --- to be perfectly honest, I avoided reading the Vampire Diaries series, because the commercials for the TV show looked like 90210 with fangs. However, I found this book on clearance for a dollar yesterday, so I picked it up. (I can't resist a bargain!)
This volume is actually the first two books in the series bound together. (Two for the price of one - Yay!) I ended up being glad for it, because The Awakening ends on such a cliffhanger that I had to read The Struggle right away. Elena is the girl in high school that I always hated, mostly because I couldn't understand why anyone would like their self-worth with their position in the popularity food chain. Luckily, Elena grows some character early enough in the book to keep me interested. When the exotic & steamy Stefan Salvatore shows up at school on the first day of senior year, he quickly becomes to talk of the school. Elena immediately sets her sights on him. Predictably, we soon learn that Stefan is a vampire, originally born in Renesance Italy. I liked Stefan as a character. He had flaws. While beautiful on the outside and sweet in personality, he was very weak in vampire powers. due to his unwillingness to drink from and kill humans. (Sigh... another vegetarian vamp?)
No teenage love story would be complete without the evil vamp to round out the love triangle. Soon after Elena & Stefan hook up, his evil & infinitely stronger brother, Damon, comes to town. At first, Damon's goal is to cause problems for his little bro, but he quickly becomes intrigued by the beautiful and strong Elena. Damon will not rest until he makes her his forever.
Okay, that's enough summary. I don't want to give anything way on accident. This series is okay. Better than 90210 with fangs, but nowhere near as good as Vampire Academy or Twilight. I found Elena a bit hard to relate too. Her preoccupation with her own popularity grew annoying fast. (Sending herself flowers and love letters from a fake French boyfriend named Jean-Claude? Right.) There was also a rift between her and one of her best friends, Caroline, which presented itself at the very beginning of the first book. By the end of the second book, I still had no idea why Caroline suddenly decided to hate Elena. On the other hand, Bella Swan haters might actually like Elena because she is stronger and more independent. She doesn't fall in love with Stefan and drop her other friends or forget her other goals (as lame as they are).
I really liked the character of Stefan for his insecurities and awkwardness, although, he's no match for Edward Cullen in the race for Sexiest High School Boyfriend. He has an interesting back story, although we are left with many glaring holes (Why does no one in town question a high schooler driving a Porsche 911 and no parents?).
The third part of the trinity, Damon, seems slightly one dimensional. He's evil. He's powerful. He has no conscience. By the end of the second book, I still don't know if he wants Elena to feed his power trip or whether he really loves her.
The Vampire Diaries does have some interesting secondary characters. I particularly liked Elena’s friends, Matt & Bonnie. Matt is the clueless, but kind human who after spurned by Elena get relegated to "friend" mode. He gets used over and over again by the selfish Elena, but keeps coming back for more. (Can anyone say Mike Newton?) Somehow, LJ Smith manages this without making Matt seem pathetic and weak. Bonnie is a funny little thing who seems to be coming into her own psychic powers. Interesting side story which could add to the series in many ways...
Overall I give The Vampire Diaries: The Awakening & The Struggle...
Interpretation of Vampire Lore - 3 bookmarks
Compelling Characters - 2 bookmarks
Age Appropriateness - 4 1/2 bookmarks
Love Story - 1 1/2 bookmarks
Fight Scenes - 2 bookmarks
Literary Merit - 2 bookmarks
Dream Cast (Otherwise known as who I pictured while reading) - Emily deRavin (Elena), Zach Efron (Stefan), James Franco (Damon)
Likeliness that I will finish reading the series - Only if I get a good deal on the books. Not paying full price, but I would continue reading.