Series Review: The Vampire Diaries & The Return Trilogy

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The Vampire Diaries is a Young Adult urban fantasy series created by L.J. Smith, and based on the lifes of the teenagers in Fell’s Church, who are constantly being troubled by supernatural dangers, ranging from vampires, like the notorious Damon and Stefan Salvatore, to werewolves, witches, Japanese fox spirits called Kitsune and other creatures that go bump in the night. Fell’s Church very own Homecoming Queen Elena Gilbert is the one usually in the center of everything, along with her boyfriend Stefan, his wicked brother Damon, and Elena’s own loyal group of friends: Meredith, Bonnie, Matt and sometimes even Caroline. Together they must face the evils that threaten Fell’s Church and the people they love.

In The Awakening, Golden Girl Elena develops a crush on the town’s newest student, Stefan Salvatore. Unknown to her, the latter is actually a daywalking vampire and she herself is the exact image of his long-lost girlfriend Katherine, who turned him into a creature of the night. Elena and Stefan start a relationship and he reveals the truth to her, but that is without taking into account his evil brother, Damon, who wants Elena for himself and wants to turn her into his Princess of Darkness. Threatened by an unfamiliar Dark Force, Elena meets an early death in The Struggle. But fear not, because in The Fury she awakens again, now turned into a vampire and a fellow creature of the night. Initially choosing Damon over Stefan, and while noticing strange occurances are happening in Fell’s Church once again, Elena’s undead life is full of trouble as well. Now the three vampires must team up again to fight the evil that is threatening their hometown…in the form of ex-girlfriend Katherine, who Damon and Stefan presumed long dead. At the end, it is Elena who sacrifices her life to save that of both brothers. Like any other self-respecting heroine, she returns from the death in The Reunion, albeit only a spirit who can talk from the grave to her wicca friend Bonnie. Now it’s up to Elena’s friends, without the great Queen of Town herself, to stop an even more powerful evil.

Ten years later, L.J Smith returns with a new trilogy as a spin-off for the original The Vampire Diaries series; athough only some days have passed in Fell’s Church, and the story of Nightfall starts where The Reunion left off. Elena is back from the dead – again – but now her merry pleasant life is being threatened by Japanese fox spirits, also known as kitsune. Unknown to him, Damon is being possessed by one of these fox spirits, and does all kinds of wicked things in their name, one of them is taking his own brother to a prison far, far away. Damon himself has no knowledge of the things he does when being possessed, and later on feels very sorry for ever doing them. In Shadow Souls, Elena, Damon and Matt travel to the Dark Dimension in the vain hope of getting Stefan back, who is held captive there by none other than the kitsune. When Matt goes back home, and Bonnie and Meredith show up out of thin air, it will need all of their friendship, courage and determination to get Stefan back.

6602822Title: The Vampire Diaries: The Awakening and The Struggle
Rating: 2 stars
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Elena: the golden girl, the leader, the one who can have any boy she wants.
Stefan: brooding and mysterious, he seems to be the only one who can resist Elena, even as he struggles to protect her from the horrors that haunt his past.
Damon: sexy, dangerous, and driven by an urge for revenge against Stefan, the brother who betrayed him. Determined to have Elena, he’d kill to possess her.
Collected here in one volume for the first time, volumes one and two of The Vampire Diaries, the tale of two vampire brothers and the beautiful girl torn between them.

Review Preview:I can’t begin to explain to you how much I despise the character of Elena Gilbert. She is egocentric, selfish, spoiled, annoying, self-absorbed, unreliable, and most possibly the worst friend ever. Golden girl, Homecoming Queen, I don’t care how many titles L.J Smith gives her; if I ever met someone like Elena in real life, I’d make her tumble down the stairs. Seriously. She reminded me a lot of that movie Mean Girls, and how she has even friends in the first place, is a mystery to me. That’s not to say that the friendships in these novels are all that realistic. They aren’t. You might as well switch Elena’s friend with wax dolls, and you’d get the exact same novel. Whereas Elena still has some personality – although not necessarily the most desirable personality in the world – her friends have absolutely none. Read more?

6544486Title: The Fury & Dark Reunion
Rating: 3 stars
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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.

Review Preview: 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. Read more?

7007788Title: The Return: Nightfall
Rating: 3 stars
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Elena Gilbert is alive—again.
When Elena sacrificed herself to save the two vampire brothers who love her—the handsome, brooding Stefan and the sleek and dangerous Damon—she was consigned to a fate beyond death. Until a powerful supernatural force pulled her back.
Now Elena is not just human. She has powers and gifts that were bestowed on her in the afterlife. What’s more, her blood pulses with an overwhelming and unique force that makes her irresistible to any vampire.
Stefan wants to find a way to keep Elena safe so that they can make a life together. Damon, however, is driven by an insatiable desire for power, and wants Elena to rule as his princess. When Stefan is lured away from Fell’s Church, Damon seizes his chance to convince her that he is the brother she is meant to be with…
But a darkness is infiltrating the town, and Damon, always the hunter, is now the hunted; he becomes the prey of a malevolent creature that can possess him at will, and who desires not just Elena’s blood but her death.

Review Preview: Nightfall starts exactly where The Reunion left off, although the freshly returned and de-spirited (look at me, I’m making up words, L.J. Smith style!) Elena has made a launch back in time, and now has the physical abbilities of a toddler. She doesn’t speak, and only communicates in thought-words. For those of you who think that’s cute, think again. An eighteen year old acting like a baby is never fun. An eighteen year old who died, became a vampire, and then died again, acting like a baby is enough to cause me a great deal of distress. After several failed attempts of yours faithfully to rip Elena’s throat out – the only problem being she’s not an actual person, but rather a fictional character – I gave up and wailed in self-pity every time she did the tap, tap, tap noise under her chin. While Stefan is being the figurative Saint again, and not touching her in any way that would be inappropriate – because you know, she has the mental abilities of a three-year-old – Elena wants nothing more than for Stefan to hold her, kiss her, and do all those things adult do. What follows next is too horribl to describe in words. Read more?

7002360Title: The Return: Shadow Souls
Rating: 3,5 stars
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On the run…
Elena Gilbert’s love, the vampire Stefan Salvatore, has been captured and imprisoned by demonic spirits who are wreaking havoc in Fell’s Church. While her friends Bonnie and Meredith explore the evil that has taken over their town, Elena goes in search of Stefan.
In order to find him, she entrusts her life to Stefan’s brother, Damon Salvatore, the handsome but deadly vampire who wants Elena, body and soul. Along with her childhood friend Matt, they set out for the slums of the Dark Dimension, where Stefan is being held captive. It is rumored to be a world where vampires and demons roam free, but humans must live enslaved to their supernatural masters…
Elena will stop at nothing to free Stefan. Yet with each passing day the tension between Elena and Damon grows, and she is faced with a terrible decision: Which brother does she really want?

Back in Fell’s Church, Bonnie and Meredith have made some dire discoveries. They hastily try to follow Elena and warn her—only to be caught up in Elena’s most dangerous adventure yet.

Review Preview: Not only were the characters all over the place, but so was the writing. It felt like somehow three different writers had each taken turns to write sentences or paragraphs, and now those snippets were all thrown together. Some of the scenes were simply ridiculous and made no sense whatsoever, and some of the descriptions were so bad they brought me closer to crying than to laughing. What this book really needed, in all honesty, was an editor. I don’t know who edited it, or how many people edited it, but it desperately screamed for a professional editor to browse through the pages, fill in the missing gaps, tell the author what could be improved, etc. I somehow had the feeling that everything, from the writing process to the actual editing, was rushed. You can’t rush things like writing, or the result will be less than satisfactory. Read more?


  1. The last book I read in the Vampire Diaries series was Nightfall. I don’t know why I stopped here – I loved reading the books and I’m a huge fan of the show, too -, but now, reading the review preview here makes me want to read more 🙂 So thanks for posting the reviews 😀

  2. The last book I read it’s also Nightfall, but I will definitely read the other ones too. It’s my favourite series and the TV show is also great. Thanks for hosting this Vampire Diaries Week! It was a really nice surprise.

  3. Nicely said, The last book I read in the series would be Shadow Soul, Thanks for hosting this Vampire Diaries Week , it’s been amazing.

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