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Vampire Diaries by L.J. Smith and Ghostwriters

Average Rating: 51 points, 2 ¾ stars
Complete series with 13 novels in 4 series.
Genres: urban fantasy, young adult

RVs Chart 7

Overall, I liked the books written by L.J. Smith. They’re kind of completely cliched, in a good way. Yet they were much better and much more fun than I was expecting them to be.

The Vampire Diaries

Average Rating: 75 points, 4 stars!
Complete series with 4 novels.
Genres: urban fantasy, young adult
RVs Chart 97

Reading Order:

1. The Awakening 3 ½ stars
2. The Struggle 4 stars
3. The Fury 4 stars
4. Dark Reunion 4 ¼ stars

While I really enjoyed reading The Vampire Diaries, mostly it is the story of a selfish, popular teenage girl who falls in love instantly with a vampire who seems to hate himself. There is a lot more to it than that, but that is the core of what drives the series.

Also on the relationship side: There is also a love triangle within a love triangle with a love triangle within a…? Stefan, Damon, and Matt all love Elena, but Elena says she only loves Stefan. And then things get a bit weird. Which isn’t even the only tangle in this mess. Stefan and Katherine and Stefan’s brother, Damon, are involved in just a regular old love triangle. Well, at least it is a love triangle that ends in murder. Double murder. …Triple murder? Hard to tell really. And we get to see all of it, mostly in flashbacks.

Elena is one of those characters that is so utterly selfish, others around her don’t realise she is being selfish because they’re so used to her acting that way. She is so self absorbed, so magnetic a personality, so who everyone looks up to, that they are all completely willing to go along with anything Elena wants. The entire series.

Yet, like other young adult urban fantasy series, the main character relies heavily on her friends. Except Elena keeps secrets from them, like the fact that Stefan is a vampire, because she doesn’t know how her friends will react. Her friends all add something to the story, such as Bonnie being a psychic.

This series isn’t only from Elena’s perspective, as much as it sounds. She is the primary perspective, certainly. Yet, a solid portion of the book is also written from Stefan’s perspective. Most of it is flashbacks about Stefan’s past. Specifically, it is the story of how Stefan and his brother got changed into vampires. There is even an entire book that isn’t from Elena’s perspective.

The supernatural elements unfold throughout the series. At first, we just learn that vampires exist. Then we learn a lot more about them. The great thing about this series is it has a lot of the older vampire tropes, such as being able to turn into other creatures and being incapable of crossing running water. Over the series we also see a lot more elements come in, such as werewolves and the “Originals” who are the progenitors of certain supernatural races.

What kills me the most, though, is the fact that no one cares when they find out about the supernatural. Elena is all “I don’t care, I want you Stefan!”. When her friends finally find out they aren’t surprised in the least and barely even react. I just..why is no one surprised?! Everything is creepy and weird, and they just accept it. Then again, one of them does say they have psychic powers, so…

Each book flows into the next seamlessly, with perhaps the exception of Dark Reunion. The first three books are really one story that got broken up into three parts, and then have a great ending. Then Dark Reunion is almost like an epilogue.

The Vampire Diaries: The Return

Average Rating: 65 points, 3 ½ stars.
Complete series with 3 novels.
Genres: urban fantasy, young adult
RVs Chart 99

Reading Order:

1. Nightfall 3 stars
2. Shadow Souls 3 ½ stars
3. Midnight 3 ½ stars

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.

While longer than the original series, where everything feels rushed, this series is longer and has so much room to explore in. It also allows for more perspectives to be fit in. Yet it also, in this case, meant that so many more things ended up happening. The problem is, is that this is just not focused. At all. There are so many side adventures and things that really, really didn’t need to happen at all.

After 17 years, things changed yet they stayed the same. The characters are almost exactly the same as they were, but not quite. 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 became more. The two series felt just completely different.

The setting also changes. We’re no longer in some small town in the middle of Virginia. We’re going to the Dark Dimension. A place that is very weird, and hard to define. I love it, I’m super into it. I just wish more time was dedicated to actually explaining it. It is purposely left vague, and I couldn’t really tell you anything about the landscape or the place. I can tell you a lot about the society, but not about what it looks like.

Also, Damon is awesome. I love how true to himself he is. The changes to Damon, and his relationship with Elena, are breathtaking. I loved every step of the way. Stefan is a bit of a wet rag in comparison.

The ending is pretty awful. It ends on a cliffhanger, and the author expected to be allowed to finish what she started. Unfortunately, the publishers decided they didn’t like what she was doing and gave it to a ghostwriter. The cliffhanger at the end of this book is never, ever going to be resolved and don’t even bother trying to read further than it. You’ll just be disappointed. The author attempted to write a fanfiction trilogy on Amazon as well, but only two books were ever released and news of the third has never come.

RVs Chart 8

Bringing in ghostwriters was the worst thing to ever happen to this series. Instead of being cliched in a good way, it became cliched in all the worst ways possible. Very afterschool TV special. It was awful.

The Vampire Diaries: The Hunters

Written by: unknown ghost writer
Average Rating: 28 points, 1 ½ stars.
Complete series with 3 novels.
Genres: urban fantasy, young adult
RVs Chart 98

Reading Order:

1. Phantom 3 stars
2. Moonsong ¾ stars
3. Destiny Rising ¾ stars

Phantom was partially written by L. J. Smith and  it still feels like a Vampire Diaries book. The characters feel the same, the events feel the same, the world feels the same. Yet it felt like all of the life was sucked out of it. The stories written by L.J. Smith were filled with mystery. It wasn’t just about young people doing young people things while living in a world where the supernatural existed. They didn’t assume that teenagers couldn’t handle adult-level problems. Phantom is like the exact opposite of that. It is entirely self involved. It goes from “them” to “me”. The entire book was about basically dealing with their feelings. Seriously.

The second book was entirely written by a ghostwriter, and it shows. It is a completely generic “going to college” story set in a world with supernatural beings. The personalities already established for every single character was ripped out and replaced with something useless. It is just a generic story about a girl who is just going away to college, a girl who is seeped in the supernatural world, and just wants to be normal. She wants to be normal, but every time she turns around, there is a new supernatural bad thing to deal with and she just wants to go crazy from it all.

Just every going away to college cliche is in here. All of the friends, despite having different plans, end up in the same university. The main characters feel out of place and alone. There are relationship problem.s It is just horrifying. And it doesn’t get better.

The Vampire Diaries: The Salvation

Written by: Aubrey Clark
Average Rating: 27 points, 1 ½ stars.
Complete series with 3 novels.
Genres: urban fantasy, young adult
RVs Chart 100

Reading Order:

1. Unseen 1 ¼ stars
2. Unspoken 1 ½ stars
3. Unmasked 1 ½ stars

While better than the previous series overall, it still wasn’t at all worth reading. There was nothing to invest into. There was no tension. Every time something “horrible” happened, it just didn’t matter. There just wasn’t anything unique about these books at all. And the ending was absolutely terrible.

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