Monday, 4 July 2016

The Awakening by L.J. Smith (The Vampire Diaries, #1) - Book Review

3.5/5 Stars

A deadly love triangle...

Who will she choose?

Edition: Paperback
Pages: 228
Chapters: 16
Publisher: Hodder

Book Links: Goodreads
                      Author's Website


I've been putting off reading The Vampire Diaries series. I bought a box set with the first four entries so, so long ago that, until last week when I unearthed them, I'd completely forgotten I even had them. I'm in utter love with the TV show, and I've had a couple people tell me the books are different. A little bit in some places, a lot in others.

So I've been pretty terrified of picking them up.

But when I found them, with their TV show tie-in covers, a wave of loss hit me. The small screen version of the series has finished its seventh season, and now I have the gruelling wait before the eighth season starts. And I miss it damn you! So, here I am. I did my best to try and keep the book series and TV adaptation separate as I started The Awakening, all the while hoping to satisfy that supernatural longing...

Synopsis (Not a copy from the book, but I always keep my interpretations close.)

Elena Gilbert is the Queen in her town.
She takes what she wants, when she wants it.
But when Stefan, the new, alluring boy at school, snuffs her advances, she's furious.
Determined to get her way, Elena ups her game as Stefan tries to shut her down.
It's not that he isn't interested.
It's that his interest could get her killed.
As Elena and Stefan dance, the town is consumed by murder.
A dark, savage beast stalks the night, and Elena has stumbled onto its path...

Plot - 3/5 Stars

The Awakening feels like half of a whole. I get that it's a series, but the first entry seems to have been split down the middle, at least, that's how it reads. As both a pro and a con, The Awakening is your typical supernatural romance, with a lot of emphasis on the romance. I kind of knew this would be the case before I started, but it still polarises me. On the one hand, it's a guilty pleasure that I cannot get enough of, and on the other, its instalove and swooning moments are like graters over my skin.

There are some eerie scenes and a halfhearted mystery, but this beginning instalment sets up the love arc between characters, so my hope for a supernatural bonanza was kinda shot down in flames. But, I enjoyed myself. There are certain things about the story, characters and writing that I absolutely love, and while I might roll my eyes at the cheesy elements, I'm in no rush to put the series away again.

I can only hope that as the series progresses we see more of the story aspects that make the show so great.

The end is Abrupt, capital A Abrupt. It's not really a cliffhanger (at least not one that has me running for the next entry), but it's sudden and I don't like it. Thankfully, the author's confusing ability to compel the reader with her samples of vampires and other supernatural creatures will have me reading the next book when I can.

Pace - 4/5 Stars

The Awakening's flow is a little shaky. There is, to be honest, not a lot that goes on outwith the main romance plot, but the short length of the story and its overall aura make it a pleasure to read through. 

Characters - 3/5 Stars

This is likely the area, at least for the first book, that the novels differ vastly from the show. The most like their characters from the show would have to be Matt, Stefan and Damon. The rest are almost completely and radically different.

It's not necessarily a bad thing, but despite my best intentions, I was trying to transplant the show's cast, which didn't work too well. All of the characters are fifty-fifty. I like them for some things and hate them for others. There's a little development, but not a lot.

I think I'll need to spend a little more time with them... (And hope to God that the supernatural aspects up their game to balance the gooey instalove.)

Writing - 3.5/5 Stars

The Awakening is written in the past tense with third-person narration. Its jumps through time and its switches in viewpoints are all smooth and handled well. Scenes are clear enough, but sometimes the narrative can shift from simple to lyrical at the drop of a hat, and I'm not really sure which one I like most.

Overall - 3.5/5 Stars

Not as scary a prospect as I thought it would be, and I even found the experience enjoyable. By the end I could see the threads that connect the show and book series, but for the most part, I'm now able to distinguish between the two (which could be great; two similar flavours I can indulge in!).

I'm looking forward to seeing how the author shapes everything up.

Next Instalment: The Struggle

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