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Tuesday, May 26, 2009

The Awakening by L.J. Smith

Posted by Irish in Uncategorized3 Comments

Publisher: Harper Paperback
Publication Year: 1991
ISBN: 006114097X (ISBN for new omnibus edition)
Format: Paperback
Pages: 320
Websites:
Vampire Diaries
L.J. Smith
L.J. Smith – blog

Place(s) Traveled to: Fells Church, Virginia (fictional town

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

I first read L.J. Smith’s The Vampire Diaries series back when the books were first published 18 years ago in 1991. I was a young teen then and was so excited that the YA section finally had some stories that weren’t in the Sweet Valley High series. Don’t get me wrong I started off loving Jessica and Elizabeth but their stories were getting old, it was pretty much the same plot each book. Jessica got into trouble and needed her twin to help her out. Her twin would grumble break up (or make up) with her boyfriend and help her sister. In the end, everyone lived happily ever after….that is until the next book when Jessica did something else. So not only was L.J. Smith’s books not about happy twin teens living in Suburbia….but it also dealt with Vampires, those dark mysterious creatures that have always been so utterly and inexplicably fascinating. Needless to say I grab the books up and eagerly devoured each one as it was published. I loved the story of Elena, Stefan and Damon. I forced all my friends to read them and when one friend and I got into a minor debate about something I took the issue to the source and wrote my first fan letter…to LJ Smith herself. (Yes, I admit even back then I was a geek, rather than write gushing letters to the teen heart throbs of the day…I wrote to an author…I never made claims at being a typical teen). Anywho, I sent off my letter and not long later I received a beautiful hand written reply from L.J. Smith! I was shocked and oh boy was I thrilled. She answered all my questions and then some and there was loads of happy all around. Years passed and these books fell from my memory until a few months ago when a friend of mine picked up the new omnibus edition featuring the first two books in the series THE AWAKENING and THE STRUGGLE. There was recognition and instant memory recall and it probably won’t surprise you to learn that not long after I went out and bought the two omnibus editions myself. (Although I probably still have my original copies in a box somewhere in my parents attic.)

I didn’t get to the books right away and it wasn’t until one night on Twitter talk somehow moved to the books, I believe it was with Emily_YA and My Friend Amy and maybe a few others. I’m not sure how it all started but at one point Amy and I got the idea that we’d read all the books again (she’d read them as a teen too) then when we met up at the BookExpo America (BEA) we’d vlog about our reactions then and now. Now while the vlog never happened (we were both too busy)….in fact I only managed to finish reading one book, The Awakening, prior to the BEA I still thought that I’d do a bit of a comparison here. As I said I loved this entire series as a teen it was something different from the other books that were available. It was a story written for my age group and for once I didn’t have to look to adult books for something good to read. It was also a new take on vampires. Yes some of the old myths were still there – like needing to be invited into a home – but there were some twists….like they could go out in sunlight as long as they had a special amulet.

Reading these books 18 years after the first time I wasn’t sure what to expect. This time around I did find them a little dated in some ways. Back in 1991 the internet wasn’t all that well known and very few people had cell phones. These are both such intrical parts of life in 2009…so when a few of the characters went out searching for another it seemed odd that they wouldn’t call her on her cell phone. That someone needed to stay behind in case she came back. These are small details and ones that I can understand why things don’t seem to mesh with today’s modern world. But I’m not sure that teens of today, reading these books would understand these differences from what they are so familiar with. The main character Elena writes in an actual diary….many teens today would start up a blog or an electronic diary on their computers….that is of course if they paused long enough to write about their day! Other then these small little details I really enjoyed reading these books again. I liked being brought back to a simpler time when life didn’t seem so crazy and hectic as it does now. It was great revisiting the fictional town of Fell’s Church, VA and I look forward to when I can find time to read the rest of these books…and to tackle the brand new book in the series The Return:Nightfall which kicks off a new trilogy – for I remember even after Dark Reunion was over I still wanted more of Elena, Damon and Stefan….and now 18 years later I’ve gotten my wish and there is more. *squee*

3 Responses to “The Awakening by L.J. Smith”

  1. Melissa

    Nice review, I too read these when they were first published and really enjoyed them, even re-reading them again recently before checking out Nightfall. It’s so good to have L. J. Smith writing again!!

  2. heidenkind

    Hi! Well, I picked these books up as a teenager in 1991, too, and was absolutely obsessed with them for about 2 years (ages in teenage years). I re-read them a few years ago (in 2000 or 2001), and I found them to be just as engrossing and wonderful as I remembered them to be. I love all of the characters and the fact that I take away a different perspective on the novels each time I read them.

    They are a little dated, as you mentioned, with no one having a cell phone or internet; but that doesn’t really bother me. Probably because I’m used to reading historicals where no one has cell phone or internet. However, it DID bother me in Nightfall, because even though the kids do have cell phones and internet now, they use them really inconsistently. Like when Bonnie, Meredith, and Matt are trapped in a car, Bonnie tries to use telepathy to call for help. I was like, “Um, why don’t you just text someone: ‘Trapped by tree come halp kthnxbai bonnie.'” That would be a lot easier (which is kind of depressing–texting has replaced telepathy in the useful skills column).

    Would the lack of modern technology bother current teens, though? I honestly don’t think so. How much cell phone and internet usage do you see in the Twilight books, or Harry Potter? There’s some in Twilight, but not much. I think no matter what teens look for a good story and characters to connect with, and you definitely don’t need them to used cell phones and the internet to do that. The real question is, can they get away from FB and MySpace long enough to read a whole book?

  3. emilyhainsworth

    Eeee! So the real question is – do you still have the letter L.J. Smith wrote back to you?? If you do, you should post it!

    Also, did you know there was a Vampire Diaries computer game? I had it (of course) and you could BE Elena and explore Fell’s Church…except it made my Mac crash constantly. LOL oh well…