Book Review: The Awakening

Title/Author:  The Awakening by L.J. Smith

Genre:  Young Adult, Paranormal, Urban Fantasy, Vampires

Published:  May 27th, 1991 by HarperCollins Publishers

Paperback, 253 pages

How I Got This Book:  Checked it out from the library

Why I Picked It Up?:  Honestly, I fell in love with the show, heard that the books are nothing like the show and absolutely horrible, and wanted to read the book for myself to see why people hate them (example of when a negative review makes me read the book)

Book Jacket Blurb:  “A deadly love triangle.

Elena:  the golden girl, the leader, the one who can have any boy she wants.

Stefan:  brooding and mysterious, he seems to be the only one who can resist Elena, eve as he struggles to protect her from the horrors that haunt his past.

Damon:  sexy, dangerous, and driven by an urge for revenge against Stefan, the brother who betrayed him.  Determined to have Elena, he’d kill to possess her.”

My Review of This Work:

Or, for today, I will rename this section to “Why I Will Watch Instead of Read:”

And a warning, there will be spoilers, because that is the nature of this comparison review.

So, I have recently discovered the awesomeness that is WB’s The Vampire Diaries.  I watched the first two seasons on Netflix in a week (this was part of my blog hiatus at the end of May haha) and am now anxiously waiting until August so I can watch season 3 in prep for season for airing in September.  I am not going to lie, I love this show!  Going into watching it, I really had no idea what it was supposed to be.  And I found that this show is full of intense awesomeness that is everything vampires (and witches, and werewolves).

So then I was like, hmmmm maybe I should read the books?  But then I look at a couple of reviews and they are horrible!  Many people state how they really dislike Elena (she is stuck up and a brat and generally not a nice person).  Even my BFF who got me watching the show told me that the books were a waste of time.  But, me being me, I decided to see WHY these books were getting such low ratings.  So I picked up a copy of Awakening and read it in about 2 hours.

Overall, this book is okay.  Maybe it had to do with the GLARING WARNINGS of the series being sub-par, but I actually didn’t hate this book.  I mean sure, there are differences, and yes, the characters in this novel resemble the personalities of characters you could find in teen girl movies (i.e. Clueless and Mean Girls), making them less than likeable.  But there is still a level of mystery and intrigue, especially as we learn more about Stefan and Damon comes into the picture.  However, that being said, there is nothing about this book that would make me state that the book is better.  This is one of those occasions where the adaptation is definitely better in every aspect.

What are the differences? For the most part, the personalities of the characters.  In the novel, Elena is Miss Popularity, very snobbish, and is the queen bee of the high school.  She has her friends, Meredith (not in the show) and Bonnie, that are more like her minions, who follow her around and make her feel better.  Elena lives with her Aunt (Judith, not Jenna), her almost Uncle, and her 4-year-old sister.  The TV show casts Elena with a brother, Jeremy, one year younger than her, who adds so much personality and depth to the cast in my opinion.  Jeremy is probably my favorite character of the show, so to find that he wasn’t even IN the books makes me very grateful to the writers and directors for adding him in!  Damon from book to screen seems about the same from what I have read.  I actually liked him in the book (though he is makes his first appearance at the end) because he seems the most real.  Like in the show, Damon has a lot of hidden depth, and I appreciated that in the book.  On the other hand, Stefan, the great and perfect hero of the show, I found to be a jerk!  I know I am supposed to like him, but I don’t.  He is worse than Elena to me!  It’s ridiculous how big of a jerk he is, and everyone in the book calls him a gentleman.  PSH!

As far as plot details go, the show seems to follow the general set up of the book.  Bonnie is developing  as a witch, Damon and Stefan hate each other, and Elena falls in love with Stefan and Matt, her ex, doesn’t like that.  So from the aspect of plot, I think the book series could be pretty okay.  But it’s the characters that are less than stellar, especially after watching the show first.

I do think that L.J. Smith lays a great foundation for an intriguing paranormal story to develop into a fantastic television show for fans of young adult.  I appreciate the changes the producers and writings made, like adding key players like Jeremy (I freakin’ love that kid!).  I think this is one of those instances where someone got inspired by a decent idea and turned it into a phenomenal and successful screen adaptation.  They took pretty shawdy high school characters and made them better people haha.

So, that is why I will just be sticking with the television show.  And if you have not watched it yet, and you are interested in the paranormal fiction books, check this show out for real.  It’s on Netflix instant, so you can start watching now on your Netflix account.

My Bookshelf Rating:

A Second Shelf Book.

I was going in to reading this book with an expectation that I would absolutely hate this book.  And the thing is, I didn’t.  I mean, sure, the show is better, but it’s not horrible writing.  The characters are also not as horrible as I’d heard they are, but there are differences in the cast of the book and the cast of the show.  In fact, I think Stefan is WAAAAAY worse than Elena lol.  If I would have read this before I watched the show, maybe I would have continued with the series.  They aren’t great by any means, but they are not horrible either.  Solidly 2 stars.

Love and A Beautiful Day Off,
Jennifer

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3 thoughts on “Book Review: The Awakening

  1. Sandy says:

    I've read all of the Vampire Diaries books that are out with the exception of the latest. And I didn't hate them either. Granted I read them all before the show ever aired and watched the show from the pilot. The first 4 books were actually not that bad while I was reading them. But like you said, the show just blows the books out of the water. After the 4th book, they start going downhill in my opinion. I actually found myself lost–which, I hope this doesn't make me sound too bad, just doesn't happen that often. They got weird more than anything else. And that with the added aspect of the characters not being all that stellar…well…you can see where I'm going with this.The show has followed all of the major plotlines thus far from the book, but usually brings them about in such a completely different and better way than the books. But I have to say that I really like kind of knowing what to expect and being able to see the show bring things about in such a different way–again and usually better way. I've read some of LJ Smith's other works (The Night World series) and wasn't that impressed with those either. They started out okay, but essentially the story arcs follow the same path and only the characters names change–which I find completely annoying and perhaps, dare I say, lazy. Anyway, that's my two cents. Good review. And I'm stoked to know another Vampire Diaries (the show) fan!!!

  2. Jennifer @ A Librarians Library says:

    Heehee! =)I would have probably read them all if I hadn't seen the show. But you know, I like the surprise aspect. I really like not knowing if I can help it, especially when the adaptations are superior to the books (or completely different, like with The Walking Dead). But since I can see that the show is better, and now that you have told me that there are major plot lines that are consistent, I really don't want to spoil the show. So I will stay clear. Thanks for the warning and for the great comment!

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