Having read the first two books in ‘The Vampire Diaries’ series, I enjoyed myself enough to move on to the next two. The conclusion: as long as you don’t take these books too seriously, they’re rather enjoyable.
‘The Fury’ picks up exactly where ‘The Struggle’ left off: Elena Gilbert has been transformed into a vampire, and must adapt to her new life quickly in order to fight the threat to Fells Church. incidentally, the residents of Fells Church are in mourning, convinced Elena has drowned in the accident that turned her into a creature of the shadows. ‘The Reunion’ then moves on to Elena’s afterlife, where she must warn the Fells Church survivors that an ancient and powerful evil is seeking to gain power by any means possible.
Content-wise, I said in the previous novels that ‘The Vampire Diaries’ uses pretty stock characters. In this set of books, I must say the character of Bonnie irritated me slightly, because she was made into something she wasn’t previously: a self-centred man-eater, none of which I recall seeing in the previous books. The others remained fairly faithful to their original portrayal, although it was bizarre seeing Elena the human and Elena the ghostly apparition in ‘The Reunion’ as the same girl: she seemed to be beyond herself in power, considering we don’t really have any reason to believe she’s special, beyond being identical to the wicked Katherine. Meredith is Smith’s triumph: she’s believable in her hardiness, and it is only when Elena returns that she falters, which entirely fits with how I envisioned her to be: unbreakable until the point of intense sentimentality.
The stories themselves were a bit hit-and-miss. The descriptions of action were pretty brilliant, involving the reader in the action whilst, critically, making us forget that other characters were still in play. For instance, I had completely forgotten Damon’s absence in ‘The Reunion’ until he tackled Klaus off Stefan, making his entrance all the more breath-taking. Equally, though, there were moments where it all felt a bit too rushed: for a character as all-powerful as Klaus, I felt like he wasn’t developed enough to strike real fear into either the characters or the reader. Despite being told he was an Original and immortal, it was not believable because he always seemed to be running or afraid. The all-powerful Old One just seemed like a bit of a wuss.
A massive let-down was the werewolf myth: Tyler just happens to be able to turn into a werewolf, no real explanation besides a family heritage briefly mentioned. Nothing really happens with him either: again, he’s a wuss. The human characters easily tackle him, he runs off whimpering and licking his wounds, the end. For a character that could have embodied so much mythology and superstition, he fell a little flat in my expectations. Despite even mentioned that severing a member would halt the werewolf curse, the threat was only made once, so it seemed like a wasted bit of information.
However, I do think I’ve spoiled the series of books for myself slightly; the television show of the same name is vastly different, and being only human (I promise) I can’t help but make comparisons. In their own right, the books stand alone on some excellently invented plots, albeit slightly rushed when a greater deal of effort would have reaped even more rewards. That said, reading ‘The Vampire Diaries’ superficially, without expecting any of these intense developments, it is thoroughly captivating and enjoyable.