A website dedicated to books in the Young Adult genre, featuring book reviews, author interviews contests and much more!

Friday, December 24, 2010

Book Review: The Stefan Diaries by L.J. Smith (CREATOR), Kevin Williamson & Julie Plec

Origins (The Vampire Diaries: Stefan's Diaries, #1)
Reading level: Young Adult
Paperback: 256 pages
Publisher: HarperTeen; 1 edition (November 2, 2010)
Purchase: Amazon | Book Depository | Indiebound 

Set during the Civil War, against a backdrop of grand estates, unimaginable riches, and deadly secrets, three teenagers in Mystic Falls, Virginia enter a torrid love triangle that will span eternity.

Brothers Stefan and Damon Salvatore are inseparable until they meet Katherine, a stunning, mysterious woman who turns their world upside down. Siblings turned rivals, the Salvatores compete for Katherine's affection, only to discover that her sumptuous silk dresses and glittering gems hide a terrible secret: Katherine is a vampire. And she is intent on turning them into vampires so they can live together-forever.

Based on the popular CW TV show inspired by the bestselling novels, Stefan's Diaries reveals the truth about what really happened between Stefan, Damon, and Katherine—and how the Vampire Diaries love triangle began.

The Vampire Diaries: Stefan's Diaries #1: Origins"They call it the witching hour, that time in the middle of the night when no humans are awake, when creatures of the night can hear them breathing, smell their blood, watch their dreams unfold."
-Page 1

"I stood transfixed in horror, unable to take a step in any direction. My head pounded my thoughts whirled in a confused tangle. I loved Katherine. Loved her. Right? So why now did this…creature disgust me?" -Page 193

THE STEFAN DIARIES is a book based on the CW television show which is based on the popular series by L.J. Smith. Confused much? I was too. 

After doing some research,  it appears that L.J. Smith did not write this book (and someone please correct me if I'm wrong), but I believe she was not the author.  If you look closely, she's listed as a "creator" only.  When I realized that, it changed my opinion of The Stefan Diaries. Up until then, I couldn't help but feel somewhat exasperated that she would completely alter  her original plot just to match the TV show. But now that I know she didn't pen it, I can enjoy The Stefan Diaries for what it is—an entertaining companion piece to my favorite show.

First off, so much has changed.  Stefan and Damon's pre-vampire days and their history with Katherine has been completely altered from what happened originally in L.J. Smith's books.  If you've read them, you know that Katherine's decision to take her ring off in the sun was the catalyst to centuries of bitterness between the Salvatore brothers. That didn't happen in this book. Other little discrepancies include the fact that Katherine's maid was really Gruden in the original (not Emily Bennett) and Giuseppe Salvatore had no idea that Katherine was a vampire.  Even the way Stefan and Damon became vampires was altered in that there was no duel to the death this time around. Basically, The Stefan Diaries throws a ton of stuff out  the window and adheres to the events of the television show almost to the letter. At first, I kept getting out my copy of L.J. Smith's The Awakening and trying to make sense of it all. But then I decided to take the book for what it was (a fun re-imagining of Stefan and Damon's 1864 pre-vampire days). And you know what?  It turned out to be a lot of fun. 

In all honestly, I prefer L.J. Smith's writing regarding my favorite characters, but I do have to admit the plot line of The Stefan Diaries (like that of the show) is so much better. I think L.J. Smith's writing was more intuitive when it comes to the characters though; she really has her pulse on what makes the Salvatore brothers tick and her writing always made me connect with them.  In The Stefan Diaries, it felt like various people were thrown in way too hastily, perhaps just to give us die-hard fans a little thrill. These characters (particularly that of Pearl and Anna) seemed two-dimensional and rather forced to me. That was my biggest qualm with the book- the lack of attention taken to really bringing the characters to life. 

The characterization that threw me the most was Katherine. What I liked:  In L.J. Smith's books, Katherine was so immature and child-like, I always had a hard time picturing her as a woman of marriageable age and understanding what the Salvatore brothers saw in her. The Katherine in this book was different. She was more mature, more sensual – I felt Stefan's pull toward her. I actually liked her better in The Stefan Diaries, for the most part.  What I didn't like: Katherine's complete lack of menace. If the book is going to mirror the show, it needs to stay true to Katherine's personality. This Katherine had a conscience and seemed more of a victim of circumstance than the calculating, opportunistic vampire diva we  have all grown to know and love on the CW.  Katherine is supposed to be a greedy, violent she-devil, who will stop at nothing to get her way. Yet in this book, it seemed like she was relying on Stefan too much to protect her, when her own natural vampire defenses would've been so much more useful.

Damon's characterization, on the other hand, was spot on. Dark, mysterious and more than a little dangerous, his appearances were actually my favorite and what kept my interest going.  I could practically hear the words rolling off his lips and his scenes actually made me get out my copy of Season 1 and play a few key episodes. Stefan, on the other hand, was way too passive and "woe-is-me" for my taste. I hope in the next book, he shows a more hardened and wizened outlook on life.

(Final Note: I am a certified Vampire Diaries-aholic. I look forward all week to Thursday nights on the CW and I've read all the books. I've even been known to poke around online looking for my own Elena replica and Katherine pendant necklace (don't judge!). Now, if you have never read the books or watched the show, but have decided to pick up The Stefan Diaries and dive in cold turkey, your take will no doubt be completely different than mine.  I do think, however, that if you are a fan of the show, chances are you will enjoy the book.  For me, The Stefan Diaries was a light-read—more of a way to relive my favorite CW episodes than anything else. While there weren't many surprises, I enjoyed the time I vested in the book. I'm looking forward to the second installment in The Stefan Diaries, entitled Blood Lust, which releases in January of 2011. )

The Vampire Diaries by L.J. Smith
The Vampire Diaries: The Awakening and The StruggleThe Vampire Diaries: The Fury and Dark ReunionThe Vampire Diaries: The Return: NightfallThe Vampire Diaries: The Return: Shadow SoulsThe Vampire Diaries: The Return: Midnight

The Stefan Diaries

1 comment:

Juju at Tales of Whimsy.com said...

Sounds like a must for fans. Great post :)