Ok so Alice read Vampire Academy and was like, THAT WASN’T TERRIBLE, and I have very low reading requirements these days, but am also bad at reading past the word ‘vampire’ in a title so THIS is a review of The Awakening: Being The First Book in the Vampire Diaries and while I can now vouch for Vampire Academy not being terrible, I’m afraid this one is.
Let us begin.
Elena is our sexy, sexy protagonist. She is wearing a ‘deep rose ribbon’ in her hair. I love when people are described as trend-setters and then show up in ribbons. (Edited to add: N’URRRR MIND, this book was published in 1991. You WEAR that ribbon, sistah.)
HAHAHA this crow is UNDRESSING HER with its EYES. She is so hot even the animals are like, Dat ass.
Elena is thinking about boys, and how much boys dig her, and how this gives her life meaning. ‘After all, what was more important than boys?’ I’d love for this to be Immature Elena Who Then Grows Into Someone Not Quite This Shallow, but if anything she only narrows her focus. What is more important than this one pale sexy Porche-driving bad boy?
(And now enter Stefan, a name we have not been able to take seriously since 1993.)
Do you even need to ask? Stefan is a douche and Elena has a sad and Stefan is like, ‘She was hurt…He didn’t care. In fact, he was glad of it, and he hoped it would keep her away from him.’ ZOMG I AM DANGERRIZ AND WILL HURT YOU TO SAVE YOU.
Ok, but then ELENA is like, ‘She’d have him, even if it killed her. If it killed both of them, she’d have him.’ FIRSTLY, this is a little melodramatic for a high school romance. Even though WE the READER are like, Yes, because he is a vampire, you having him will probably involve you being at least Nearly-Killed. And SECONDLY, she wants him so badly because…*scans up to previous paragraph*…ah yes. ‘He’d snubbed her on purpose, and in front of Caroline.’ DELIBERATE EMBARRASSMENT AND REJECTION IS SO SEXY.
Ok but Elena has Reasons for being like that. No boy has ever made her nervous, but when she spoke to Stefan, ‘there hadn’t been butterflies in her stomach – there had been bats.’ VAMPIRE BATS?
And then she’s like, Being made nervous is not a good reason to be into a guy. And I am like, HELLS YES, CHILD. LISTEN TO THAT THOUGHT.
But then she’s all, ‘But there was also that mouth.’ And I am like, NO, IGNORE THE MOUTH. THERE ARE MANY OTHER EQUALLY AS SCULPTED MOUTHS THAT WILL NOT GIVE YOU THE UNSETTLIES.
So that’s happening. Meanwhile, I’m enjoying such awesome narration as:
‘Oh, Bonnie,’ she said, ‘I’m glad you’re back. Hello, Elena, Meredith.’
Elena and Meredith said ‘hello.’
Some other conversation happens here but don’t you appreciate knowing that Bonnie’s sister said hello to Elena and Meredith and that they said hello back before she launched into important conversation and stuff? I know I do.
Ok and then Matt, who I forgot about until now but who is in love with Elena (obvs) but who has also befriended Stefan (weirdly), is like, I don’t think Stefan’s as confident as he seems. And Elena takes a paragraph to contemplate this completely novel form of character, the Secretly Confused And Unhappy Popular Kid. And then Elena tries to rope Matt into WINNING STEFAN’S HEART for her and Matt is giving her a dressing down for being selfish and self-absorbed, and she’s like, *single perfect tear hovers unshed* and he’s like, NO DON’T DO IT DON’T CRY I WILL DO WHAT YOU WANT.
Ok so now we’re at the School Dance. Elena is there, Stefan is there. She asks if he’s having a good time and then, presumably, he SAYS nothing (which is a socially weird way to respond to a question), but you probably won’t notice because he THINKS ‘I am now,’ except you don’t know he thinks it, Elena does. Elena ‘knew it was what he was thinking; she could see it in the way he stared at her. She had never been so sure of her power. Except that actually he didn’t look as if he were having a good time; he looked stricken, in pain, as if he couldn’t take one more minute of this.’ Wait, WHAT? It’s like halfway through that paragraph, LJ remembered that this was supposed to be TORTURED teenage love, not the other kind that just goes and makes out behind the bleachers already.
Stefan stares at her and ‘[i]t was the most intense moment she’d ever experienced with a boy, but nothing at all was happening.’ And this is sort of the book in a nutshell: nothing is happening, so you have to take Elena’s word that it is INTENSE.
Ok and then Stefan does something Stefan-y (like, snubs her in public or something), so she goes off and flirts with a new group of friends and they ‘welcomed her, admiring her, the boys vying for her attention. Jokes flew back and forth.’ Smith may as well have been like, And the teenagers did teenagery things, you know, like the young people do, and also there was some sexual tension.
But then one of these boys CATCHES her attention and lures her away to paw at her in a church yard (IRONY), and Stefan is trying to get to her but he gets dizzy for reasons I forget. ‘He needed…to go to Elena. But he was weak. He couldn’t be…weak…if he were to help Elena. He needed…to…’ ELLIPSES = SUSPENSEFULLERYNESS!
Eventually he rescues her (derr) but not before her bodice is ripped (hee!), and she ‘pulled the remaining bobby pins out of her hair and used them to fasten the front of her dress together.’ Bobby pins aren’t literal PINS, though, is the thing.
And then he’s all like, I’d better get you home, and she’s like, ‘Why do you hate me?’ and I am like, This reads like badly-written Twilight fanfic except that at least in Twilight, it was well established that Edward hated Bella. Someone forgot to infuse that haterade into VD. Oh, and yes, the pub date. SOMEONE HAS GONE BACK TO 1991 AND WRITTEN BAD TWILIGHT FANFIC.
And then they establish that no one hates ANYONE and that Stefan actually loves her like woah and they have a MOMENT but he has to GO so he whispers goodbye, ‘his eyes clinging to hers,’ OH MY GOD THAT IS THE GROSSEST IMAGE. Romantic moment ruined.
Sidebar – Stefan on Elena: ‘warm as sunlight, soft as morning, but with a core of steel that could not be broken.’ I mean, there’s lazy characterization and then there’s just ripping stuff straight from the Book of Stock Characters.
So now they’re together and things are swell. ‘After a week of being with Stefan, she still felt a thrill of excitement just saying his name.’ Isn’t that sweet? She’s still crazy about him after all these fucking days. But Elena has to go do…I forget again. Plan another dance? No, wait, the Halloween thing. Has to go plan the Halloween thing with her girlfriends, WHO ARE NOT STEFAN. ‘”He can live without you for one evening,” said Bonnie callously‘ EMPHASIS MINE because no, ‘said Bonnie WITH SURPRISING GOOD SENSE.’ Is what you meant.
And the Halloween thing comes and someone is MURRRRDERED and everyone is like, Stefan did it. So Stefan is like, Oh shit, I must have killed that dude without noticing! May as well go drink all the bloods, then. Besides, I am SO THIRSTY. And I don’t know much about vampires but I’m pretty sure they aren’t SO THIRSTY after JUST HAVING DRUNKEN AN ENTIRE DUDE, so that was maybe a good clue right there that he hadn’t done any blood-letting. I mean, what do I know, though.
Ok and we get to the part where Elena Finds Shit Out and she’s listing off all Stefan’s skills (he’s having a low self-esteem moment) and she’s like, You’re quick, and he’s like, Actually I’m NOT. ‘Have you ever heard the saying “the quick and the dead,” Elena?’ HAHAHA PUNS. He is actually dead.
Finally Elena approaches Stefan’s Terrible Secret and she’s like, ‘it’s the end of the story, isn’t it? That’s behind all your walls, that’s what you’re afraid to let me see.’ And lines like that always read like part of the story outline that the author forgot to replace with actual writing.
And then she finds out he’s a vampire and that he and his brother had both been turned by the same girl (ew?) who then killed herself so they wouldn’t fight about her (I am sort of making things up at this point because I skimmed the last bit) and Elena gets super mad about…something, and ‘knew now what a towering rage meant.’ Is a ‘towering rage’ a thing? This is not an expression I have heard.
Anyway, she something something cliffhanger but I guess I’ll never know how it all ends because I AM NOT DOING THAT AGAIN.
Two caterpillars. Coming soon: a review of Vampire Academy, which could not have been this terrible if it tried so it sort of lucked out on that score.