Tuesday, 15 March 2011

The Awakening by L.J. Smith

GENRE: paranormal romance/vampire fiction/young adult

A deadly love triangle. Elena: beautiful and popular, the girl who can have any guy she wants.

Stefan: brooding and mysterious, desperately trying to resist his desire for Elena . . . for her own good.

Damon: sexy, dangerous, and driven by an urge for revenge against Stefan, the brother who betrayed him.

Elena finds herself drawn to both brothers . . . who will she choose?

The Awakening is the first book in the popular The Vampire Diaries series. It is an enjoyable read featuring both vampire and human drama.

Elena Gilbert is the most popular girl in her high school. She lost her parents in a tragic accident and now lives with her Aunt Judith. A change has started to happen inside Elena, but on the outside she is still the girl she used to be – a high-school princess who is used to having her way. When a boy comes to the town of Fell’s Church and becomes a student at Elena’s high school, he immediately gets Elena’s full attention, but the problem is that Stefan Salvatore completely ignores Elena. Furious and confused, Elena vows that she will have this boy she feels so strongly drawn to – without knowing what she is getting herself into.

Stefan Salvatore, a 500-year-old vampire, comes from Italy to Fells’ Church in search of normality. But for a vampire who has been avoiding human company, it is not easy to fit in with the crowd and when he sees Elena, a girl that looks so much like the woman he fell in love with five hundred years ago, he receives a shock. On top of that, he begins to struggle with immense hunger.

I really enjoyed the setting of this novel. Fell’s Church is a small American town that has not changed much from the times of the Civil War. It has an ancient feel, with Victorian buildings and an old scary cemetery that becomes the scene of attacks that might have only been committed by an animal…or someone not entirely human.

The atmosphere is great. It is intense and every event is accompanied by an underflow of darkness, as strange things begin to happen in Fell’s Church. There is always a large crow lurking nearby, observing, almost as if it were hunting something, and the bird manages to affects those around it in a strange way. I really loved this mystery and the suspense it created. The moments between Elena and Stefan very so intense that one could cut the tension with a knife. I could feel genuine connection between them and its power was a delight to experience.

I enjoyed the presentation of vampires that appear in the novel. They have classical powers and their strength depends on their age and on the amount of human blood they drink. I also like the explanation as to why these vampires (but not all) can walk in the sun, yet are still not entirely immune to it, as it weakens them. This all fits nicely with the vampire tradition.

I must mention a few things I did not enjoy, or rather, that I found questionable. The eternal mistake, one might say, of paranormal romances is that the connection between the heroine and the hero is established too quickly. It starts with physical attraction that suddenly turns into powerful, passionate love. While I enjoyed reading about Elena and Stefan as a couple, I truly resented the fact that, without really knowing anything about each other, they pronounced words of love so quickly and freely. Elena also accepts Stefan’s true nature too quickly.

While Elena’s character gained a likeable personality over the course of the book, she was extremely annoying in the beginning. She behaved like a princess, had a superior attitude as she knew she was the most popular girl at school and she really noticed Stefan because he ignored her. She cried tears of anger because a boy did not see her and that anger led her to swear that she would have him. Eventually, Elena became really likeable, fortunately. And, I suppose that one might argue that the lack of a perfect heroine – that is, a Mary Sue – is actually a bonus.

Another thing that bothered me was that the novel seemed a bit rushed. This novel is short (my copy has a bit over 200 pages) and all the action is crammed in. I would have liked to see some parts extended and elaborated on. But otherwise, the action and the mystery that are present are a delight to read and are filled with wonderful suspense.

The novel ends on a wonderful cliffhanger. The fight between two vampires (one of which is already my favourite character of the series) was a delight to read and something that I often miss in modern paranormal romances. I am definitely looking forward to reading the next book in the series, The Struggle.

I recommend this novel to fans of vampire fiction and paranormal romance.

: / (3.5 stars)


Jo K said...

Great review! I've got this on my TBR, so I was really interested in what you had to say. I think I'll enjoy the ancient setting and the fact that the heroine isn't likable from the beginning. It is nice to see sometimes how the characters change and grow on you.

The Insouciant Sophisticate said...

I meant to read this before giving the tv series a try but never got around to it. I like seeing that the vampires are pretty traditional-if too much is changed about vamps, then it's almost like they're some other creature.

Peppermint Ph.D. said...

I saw one episode of the tv series and was intrigued. Since I'm not a big tv watcher, I lost track of the series...maybe I'll give the book a try :) Thanks for bringing this series back to my attention :)

Blodeuedd said...

I am not gonna say a lot about this book but yes Mary Sue ;)

Ann Summerville said...

I haven't heard of this one.