Book Review: The Vampire Diaries: The Fury and The Reunion by L.J. Smith

6544486Title: The Fury & Dark Reunion
Author: L.J. Smith
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Dark Fantasy, Vampires
Publication Dates: 1991 and 1992
Publisher: HarperPaperbacks
Rating: 3 stars

Elena: transformed, the golden girl has become what she once feared and desired.

Stefan: tormented by losing Elena, he’s determined to end his feud with Damon once and for all—whatever the cost. But slowly he begins to realize that his brother is not his only enemy.

Damon: at last, he possesses Elena. But will his thirst for revenge against Stefan poison his triumph? Or can they come together to face one final battle?

Collected here in one edition are the third and fourth volumes of The Vampire Diaries, a riveting conclusion to the tale of two vampire brothers and the beautiful girl torn between them.

I feel obligated to start by saying that The Fury and The Reunion are way better books than the first two novels in the series. More even, I actually enjoyed reading this novel, and could do so without wanting to kill everyone who came in the distance of a mile every time Elena spoke a sentence or thought something that enraged me. A great part of this has to do with the fact that the most annoying character of the series – who, unfortunately, appears to be the main character as well – is either dead, missing or completely transformed in these both novels. Gone is the snappy Miss Bitch of the 1990’s and welcome Vampire Elena and Dead Elena. A wonderful change, in my opinion.

In The Fury, Elena returns to her beloved Stefan, as a vampire. Except that, at first, she hardly recognises her beloved Stefan and attacks him in order to save Damon, who she now feels a connection to. Poor Stefan, Yay for Team Damon. She seems to enjoy her new vampire senses, as she immediately goes out to feed from Matt. Alright, it’s a bit of an overstatement – in all honesty, Matt offers, but he has no idea what exactly he offers. It turns out that there’s an Other Power in Fell’s Church, a power strong enough to make even Stefan and Damon tremble in fear. Or well, supposedly, as I’m pretty sure no one will ever catch Damon trembling in fear. As things unfold, and the spirit of Honoraria Fell (or whatever her name is – really, that name confused me) comes back from the dead to warn the citizens of Fell’s Church, Elena and her friends must once again face the forces of evil and save their town.

The Reunion starts off on a different note. Elena is dead: for real, this time. Except well, maybe not for real, since she still occasionally visits Bonnie in her dreams. Although Bonnie seems troubled at first by the dreams she’s having about her dead friend, she realises they can’t be just dreams when she and Meredith get attacked at Caroline’s house by a very powerful opponent. Suspicions rise in the direction of Tyler Smallwood, but everyone agrees Tyler simply lacks the intellect to perform such an attack. A girl dies, Sue Carlson, and the attacker promised Vickie Bennett that she’s next (by this time, I was really feeling sorry for Vickie, but more about that further on in the review). Bonnie does a summoning spell to ask Stefan to return to Fell’s Church, but unknowingly invites his evil brother Damon as well. Once again, they have no idea what or who they’re up against, and they must work together to save themselves and the people they love.

Elena makes a far better and more interesting vampire than she did as a human. She is strong, confident, but lacks most of the less-desirable qualities that made her the Queen Bitch of the 1990’s. She doesn’t take advantage of her friends anymore – safe the brief encounter with Matt at the beginning of the The Fury – and she doesn’t get away with everything anymore. Somehow, she stopped thinking that becoming Homecoming Queen was the most important thing in her life, or that she needs to have the most popular guy in high school, and that she’s going to die if she doesn’t have him. Those are just some of the perks of being undead, really. She also develops a bond with Damon throughout The Fury, something I supported of course, and showed us a bit of her dark side. Her interesting, not mean-girl-in-highschool, dark side.

There were some things about The Fury that seemed totally unrealistic, numero uno being the appearance of Honoraria Fell’s spirit. Oh, really? The woman has only been dead for about 200 years and then suddenly decides to come back from the realm of the terribly-long-deceased to warn everyone from things they could already have figured out if they put one and one together. It just seemed unnecessarily, far-stretched and totally unbelievable. Sorry, Honoraria, but you had better stayed dead, in my opinion. Numero Duo contains a spoiler. So do not read beyond this line, if you don’t want to read the spoiler. Does anyone else think it was completely unrealistic how fast and easy Elena managed to kill Katherine? I mean, for starters, the girl is about 500 years old, and that makes her one wicked strong vampire. And probably a very smart one as well, considering she survived that long. Somehow I’m not convinced killing her would be so easy it can be done in under one chapter, and this was actually quite an anticlimax. Oh well.

I figured out that Katherine was the Other Power even before I began reading The Fury. What I was surprised about, was that L.J. Smith killed her off so quickly. In all honesty, Katherine was probably the character with the most potential so far. If you ever watched The Vampire Diaries TV Series Season Two, you’ll know what I mean. Katherine could be wicked, mean, or something inbetween. The love triangle could have developed into a love square, or quadangle, or whatever you choose to call it, and the storyline would have been all the more interesting. Sure, Kat is a bit insane, but that doesn’t mean she couldn’t stir things up a little for a while longer. She does make a nice opponent, especially since her connections with Damon and Stefan are so emotionally charged. Plus, I don’t care how many times anyone, not even the bad guy in book four, mentions that Katherine wasn’t exactly the brightest star in the universe. From what I read, she may not have been the new Einstein, and she may have been too emotional and too child-like in her loving for both Damon and Stefan, but she had more kindness, maturity and basic intelligence than Elena Gilbert set in The Awakening and The Struggle, could ever dream of.

I was actually releived and dissapointed at the same time when Elena turned up dead. I was releived, because I knew that meant I could spend more time with the other characters and get to know more of them, but I was also dissapointed because she had been a lot more interesting as a vampire. That said, I have to admit that from all four books in the original series, I both liked and disliked The Reunion the most. Let me explain.

I liked The Reunion because Elena didn’t play a major part in it. It focused on the supportive characters, of whom most know had actual personalities, and I felt closer to them than ever before. That counts especially for Damon and Bonnie. Stefan is still statue number 3478, and I don’t care how many times L.J. Smith mentions he misses Elena, and loves her to death and beyond; I just don’t buy it. I wish I could explain why, but I can’t. My entire body actually twitched when I read another paragraph mentioning how meaningless Stefan’s life was without Elena. Now, I’ve always been a Damon fan, even in the TV series, but I always liked Stefan as well. That is, until The Reunion, in which he practically made me feel ill. I just felt like slapping him on the head, and maybe even putting a stake through his heart to end his misery as well as my own. Putting that aside, Matt and Caroline were still generic personalities throughout this novel, and although Meredith showed up occasionally, and showed us more of her personality, she still couldn’t get a spot on my characters-I-actually-like-list.

Vickie Bennett was on that list though, even if only for the fact that I felt sorry for her from the beginning. It’s like L.J. Smith chose one particular character to drop everything on, or maybe she just has the tastiest blood in town. Tormented both physically and emotionally in The Awakening and The Struggle, she goes through hell and back again in The Reunion. And things get even worse for poor Vickie. I don’t want to add spoilers here – but things are not looking up for poor Vickie Bennett.

Bonnie grows more interesting in The Reunion, because she actually grows a backbone, somewhere along the way. From the frightening, childish young girl we see at first, when she, Meredith, Caroline, Sue and Vickie get attacked, she turns into a more confident, and stronger young woman, which we see particularly in the fight at the end. I found it fitting that it was Bonnie who received the visions of Elena in her dreams, that it was Bonnie who identified Tyler Smallwood as the possible attacker, and that in the end – SPOILER AHEAD – Bonnie was the last one standing. It’s some nice character development that surprised me in a very good way. Bonnie, you go girl, and you might turn out to be my second favorite character after all.

SPOILERS IN THIS PARAGRAPH.
Probably because I’ve seen the TV Series, but it was clear from the start of The Reunion that Klaus was going to be the villain of this story, and that Elena was coming back. I mean, the title actually says it all. What I didn’t like was that this story was so short, I felt like Klaus didn’t get his chance to shine – a bit like Katherine didn’t get her chance either – and I didn’t like the way the author portrayed him as well. I mean, he’s one of the Originals. I’m pretty sure some ghosts from the 1900s can’t kill him, even if it’s the Night of The Solstice. This seemed sort of random, like L.J. Smith had no idea what to do with him, and how to kill him off so her cast of characters could save the day once again. It was far-stretched as well, and I had several eye-roll moments during the final battle. It just didn’t seem all that epic to me, and I would have preferred it if Elena stayed dead, like any proper, self-respecting dead person, and let the others handle it for once. For instance, I would have gone completely insane from happiness had it been Stefan, Damon and Bonnie, in a combined effort, who managed to kill Klaus. I mean, come on, give your friends a chance for once. Elena saved the day by sacrificing herself in order to kill Katherine. Does she really need to have all the credit for killing Klaus as well? And then the ending. Don’t get me started. She just comes back? But why? How? Is that even possible? We get absolutely no explenation, no theories about it, and we, as readers, are left clueless about why she’s back. I practically needed a tissue, because I felt like crying from frustration!

Now, the reasons why I completely disliked The Reunion. I felt like this book was…unintended. Like L.J. Smith had tied up things well enough with the death of Elena at the end of The Fury, with the appearance of Katherine, etc. Then for some reason she, or her publishers, either felt bad for the way they let things end, or they just wanted to make more money by adding another book to the series. A book that seems so random and out of place that everyone can clearly see it wasn’t mean to be there to begin with. For instance, the villain is picked out-of-the-blue. We never even hear a mention of Klaus in the previous novels, except briefly when Katherine mentions who changed her. That he’s back to take revenge is a bit far-stretched. Secondly, the cries from Elena from beyond the grave. They annoyed me immensly, since I have a saying: unless you’re an actual ghost, a vampire or a zombie, dead things should stay dead. Period.

All in all, I enjoyed The Fury and The Reunion much more than I enjoyed the previous two novels in the series. Granted, the villains were a bit randomly chosen, and The Reunion was uncalled for, and out of place, but still. We got a better insight in the characters, nice storylines, and a bit of mindless entertainment. Isn’t that all you need on a cold winter evening?

Comments

  1. I have to confess that after finishing the third book, I thought I wouldn’t like the fourth because of Elena’s absence. But it was great and it ended even better.

  2. I think I remember reading somewhere that the fourth book wasn’t originally intended.

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