The Vampire Diaries: The Struggle by L.J Smith

So, I previously listened to and wrote about the first book of this series, which is The Awakening (yes, the cover used is for both books combined). While it didn’t thrill me, I accepted that there were some reasons completely unrelated to L.J Smith’s writing that were largely responsible for that. Just to reiterate what those are: I am a huge fan and seven seasons into the television series these books inspired which put me way too far down the rabbit hole on this world to relate well to the beginning again; there’s a strange way that a lot is different but a lot is also the same that can put me off at times and intrigue me at other times; Elena Gilbert is not the most likable protagonist for me; and I’m not usually a huge fan of YA paranormal romance. None of these things make it a bad book.

Reading through this second book confirmed for me that this really is a good series. I understand why they wanted to make a show out of it. The show has, actually, been incredibly successful and is one of my favorites, along with it’s spinoff, The Originals. This book helped me figure out the other little thing that was making it weird to read the series. These books (so far) are told from Elena and Stefan’s deep perspectives (with a brief segue into Bonnie’s). That means that Damon, who has been my favorite since the beginning, is seen less than favorably.

Don’t get me wrong, he is a killer and can be a bit of a villain, and the sexy aspect is definitely a predominant part of his book character, but his scenes are tinged with Elena or Stefan’s thoughts and feelings about him. I’ve never been Team Stefan. I am Team Damon, all the way, since Ian Somerhalder first graced my screen in his persona. He’s just been one of my favorite characters, remembering that he’s totally fictional and the people he kills are fictional and therefore not of any import.

Getting back to the book, this is most definitely a YA paranormal romance. Damon is sexy and alluring and after the protagonist, Elena, who is uninterested and makes every attempt to guard herself from him. She is in love with the “right” kind of guy (or vampire) that is good and tries not to kill anyone. Personally, I’ve been over the self-hating vampire since 1994 when the type was played by Brad Pitt. This is the only genre where I love a bad guy. The books also have a lot of the “I’d die for you” or “you’re the only one that there ever will be” thing going on that can be fun to read about sometimes.

Yeah, sometimes. Maybe it’s just my age. I loved it when I was the age that these books are targeted for, so I won’t bash on that, but that doesn’t make it a healthy way to look at love. I know, not all books are about healthy relationships, but this is a feminist blog on books, so I’m about to go there. It’s not a healthy relationship. Stefan isn’t domineering, stalking, or abusive but their relationship is a little too Romeo and Juliet to be healthy. Of course, that Elena keeps secrets about her interactions with his brother who is trying to woo her is indicative of a whole other set of relationship issues.

While it’s fun to read about this kind of love as a kid, it’s not a good thing to give the perception that this is what “real” love is all about. This kind of overly passionate behavior is great for fiction, not for real life aspirations. That was one of those things that I know I couldn’t really tell the difference between at that age but lucked out. I had parents who were (and still are) in a great relationship and showed me the way. I’m not suggesting that all girls fall for this, or that it’s an entirely bad thing, but only proceed with the series if it’s what you like to read about and you’re generally okay with intense emotions from teenagers. Funny what a little time can do to your perception of how okay it is. I’ve even seen other posts on the day when you start to agree with the parents in kids movies, particularly The Little Mermaid.

That being said, I’ll remind you that I am a huge fan of the television series and that it is seven seasons in now. If the reasons for this intense and immediate passion are the same, or even similar, than it’ll make total non-angsty sense and the general reader doesn’t have to pretend to believe that such relationships burn this hot, this fast, at least not from this series. I know that others go there (yeah, I’m talking about you Twilight and 50 Shades), but if we hold out with Smith, we may find a great reveal waiting for us down the line.

I’m looking forward to it. In the mean time, this one does have a great ending that I wasn’t expecting! You should check it out.

On to book three, The Vampire Diaries: The Fury, which I just got from my local library!

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