Saturday, July 3, 2010

The Round-Up#30

Book Review: The Vampire Diaries (The Original Trilogy: The Awakening, The Struggle, The Fury) by L. J. Smith: Let's get this out of the way, first: The Vampire Diaries beats the hell out of the Twilight books. If this past statement offends you, tough luck, dear reader. OK. Now let's get another thing out of the way: Although The Vampire Diaries Trilogy is much better than Twilight, that doesn't mean it is great, either. If that statement offends you, then tough luck, again, dear reader.

Although L.J. Smith originally envisioned this story as a trilogy, its success forced Smith to write several more books featuring some of the original characters. Almost two decades later, the success of Twilight by Stephenie Meyer encouraged publishers to re-print Smith's books, which share some similarities, story-wise, with Twilight. The Vampire Diaries series of novels then became New York Times bestsellers, leading Smith's books to be adapted into a hugely successful TV series. This review is concerned with The Vampire Diaries: The Original Trilogy by L.J. Smith, which started the whole thing.

So let's begin: These books are fun reads. Nothing more, nothing less. They are written in easy-to-read, serviceable prose, and the atmosphere is appealing enough for Gothic/Horror fans, like myself. The characters are interesting, especially Elena, the protagonist, who is a strong female heroine, Stefan, the "good" vampire who loves Elena but tries to fight it because she reminds him of his dead lover, Katherine, and Damon, Stefan's brother, and the "bad" vampire of the story, who is also, seemingly, a brutal killer who can shape-shift into a crow.

Despite the sometimes clunky pace and Smith's occasionally flavorless prose, this is an undeniably entertaining story, with enough twists and turns (especially in the third book, The Fury) to make the messy ending effective. But what sets it apart from the Twilight books, to which it is continuously compared (despite the fact that The Vampire Diaries: The Original Trilogy was published 14 years before Twilight) is its tone. These books are much darker than the Twilight saga, much less saccharine, and much less manipulative. While The Twilight Saga is poorly written and exploitative, The Vampire Diaries Trilogy is entertaining, dark, suspenseful, and, most importantly, doesn't pretend to be anything than what it really is: A trilogy of Young Adult Horror novels that is perfect reading material for Halloween.

Extra! Dry Water by Eric S. Nylund: This edition's Extra! selection is the novel Dry Water by Eric S. Nylund, a tremendously entertaining piece of dark urban-fantasy, that combines Zelaznian weirdness with boundless imagination to produce a tale that is filled to the brim with ideas and memorable set-pieces. A must for fans of Roger Zelazny (especially Lord of Light) and Clive Barker's The Great and Secret Show.

That's it for me. Till next time, keep browsing those shelves!

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