57 points, 3 stars
Warning: Cliffhanger (Welp, this is going to take a while isn’t it?)
Elena Gilbert died. Then she turned into a vampire. Then she died again. Now she’s back! Elena Gilbert doesn’t exactly remember who she is, or what the world is like, but that doesn’t stop the word from moving on from Elena Gilbert. There is a strong Power growing in Fell’s Church, one that is trying to take over the children for malevolent purposes.
Elena startled both of them by flying up so quickly that Stefan had to grab her by the waist to keep her from shooting toward the ceiling.
“I thought you had gravity!”
“So did I! What do I do?”
“Think heavy thoughts!”
“What if it doesn’t work?”
“We’ll buy you an anchor!”
This is the first book in the “newer” installments of the Vampire Diaries. Nightfall was released 17 years after the last book was released, just before the TV series made its debut. It is perhaps no real shock to anyone that this was probably commissioned by the publisher to capitalize on that TV money.
Each of the books in The Return are on average just over the length of two of the books in the original series, including Nightfall. The is both a positive and a detriment to the book. It is good because it allows for more time for things to happen in. Everything felt rushed in the original series. This one has so much room to explore in. It also allows for more perspectives to be fit in. The original series always had viewpoints more than just Elena and Stefan. This was able to get pretty much everyone. The plots can be more complex, too.
My problem though? None of the positives were done very well. Even though more things could happen, the same amount of stuff happened in Nightfall as happened in a single book in the original series. We just got a lot more on the side that we really…didn’t need. The perspective switches happened incredibly randomly. They happened in the middle of scenes, they contained scene fragments, there didn’t seem to be any logic behind it. I ended up angry and screaming at the book that you shouldn’t use perspective switches as in-book cliffhangers. While the plot could be more complex and it was as well, it was used to be confusing instead of mysterious. The original series was good because it was so mysterious, and I think things just got confused since then.
As I said earlier, it has been 17 years between books. This might have been the reason why the characters don’t feel exactly the same between the series. Not only that, but the story feels different. The characters aren’t completely different people, but they have had some minor personality changes. Nothing major: Elena is a little less all consumingly selfish, Bonnie is way more into her psychic powers, Meredith is actually a character. Those type of minor things. The story feels different because it just isn’t as mysterious. The original series did an amazing job of leaving things creepy, where it could be anything. Everything in this book is just outright told to us as they become curious about something because there is an answer that can be found.
The plot is divided into two aspects. The problem at hand, and the relationship between the characters. The plot is okay. It adds in a lot of japanese culture, like kitsune. It also adds angels and demons, and plays around in various reality realms. I don’t really have much to add on it. It isn’t spectacular, but it was done adequately.
The relationship drama, on the other hand, I have things to talk about. Smith sort of rewrites the end to Dark Reunion in the beginning of this book. Even though Elena knew everything after coming back from the dead, we learn that in the beginning of this she has no memories of anything. She can’t even really talk because she doesn’t really understand or remember how, though she understands when people talk to her. Yet she still continues her relationship with Stefan, which is really weird. To be fair to Stefan, he is really uncomfortable with it all, and he doesn’t want to be doing it at all until she remembers herself. I found it really sweet, if I’m being honest. Then, between one night and the next, Elena remembers everything again. I’m not exactly thrilled with this memory loss plot line.
Damon is also back in Nightfall. He is enemy and he is friend. And he makes Elena confused, because she likes him despite knowing she shouldn’t, that Stefan as the guy for her. Then Damon does something stupid, and Elena doesn’t realise it. Actually, Damon’s stupid act leads to the entire rest of the series, because the second book is going to be dealing with the fallout from it. Damon is definitely the character to watch, and Elena’s relationship with him is definitely becoming interesting.
Overall, I didn’t mind reading this. It was confusing, it was slightly frustrating, but it was a solid read once I got past that. I liked the characters, I liked what they were going through. I liked how much more expansive the world was. I am really interested in continuing this sequel.