Confession time: I started this review weeks ago when I first read Bloodlust, but when I heard that Episode 15 (The Dinner Party) was going to include flashbacks to when Stefan first turned (and was the “bad” brother), as well as the introduction of Lexi, I decided to wait to finish my review until I saw the episode. After all, that is essentially the plot of Bloodlust & I was curious how closely the show would adhere to it. As with the original Vampire Diaries books, the show took the concept (Lexi teaching Stefan control), but changed many of the facts (in the books they meet in New Orleans, in the show Lexi comes to Mystic Falls). Kudos to the show for including a scene where Stefan skips stones like a champion (a big part of his courtship of human Callie in Bloodlust)
Side note: I’m slightly peeved that this new round of books is coming out before the story plays out on screen — I love the new books, but hate big spoilers — having read Bloodlust, seeing Lexi in EP 15 was a wonderful homecoming (she’s the character I miss most), but not the terrific surprise it would have been had I not read the books. That said, since I love both the new books & the show, I can live with the occasional spoiler if it means I get to enjoy both.
Back to Bloodlust: This would be a good time for me to mention that I’m not a Delena or Stelena fan. I’ve been a believer from early in the series (& by that I mean the TV series, not the original books) that TVD is all about Defan (to steal Nina’s shipper name). To me, the Vampire Diaries is a journey of two brothers who start out loving each other more than anyone, get torn apart through their own actions and the actions of others, and ultimately must find their way back to each other (and in the process, rediscover their own humanity). I believe the epic love story on the show is the one between Damon & Stefan. While we are seeing them find their way back to each other in the tv series, Stefan’s Diaries takes us back to when they loved each other as brothers (in Origins) and when they were torn apart as vampires (Bloodlust).
What I find most interesting is that the brothers’ journey, both as humans and as vampires, reaches its most critical turning points each time they fall in love. In Origins, it was their shared love for Katherine that ultimately led them to lose their humanity and began the disintegration of their brotherly bond.
As you may already have heard, Bloodlust reveals Scary Monster Stefan. However, it is mere weeks after turning that Stefan begins his path to redemption. Much like his love of Katherine triggered his first milestone of being turned into a vampire, it is the love of two women (his BFF Lexi and human Callie) that is the vehicle for his next milestone: regaining his humanity. The fact that Stefan was so open to Lexi’s teachings in how to control his appetites reveals Stefan’s true nature & heartfelt desires: for Stefan, love, family & friendship is as essential as blood is to vampires. The moment he showed up in New Orleans he began to build a makeshift family (w/ Lexi & her merry band of vampires), make friends & ultimately fall in love — all of the things he lost in Mystic Falls when he became a vampire.
While he had to get his bloodlust under control before he could form any lasting relationship, I never had the feeling that Stefan wouldn’t succeed in gaining that control. Even as a newbie vampire, when he needed to control himself (either in Callie’s presence or in his attempts to rescue Damon) he was able to do it when it meant protecting someone he cared about. Stefan’s natural protective instincts were alive and well, even during his most brutal time period as a vampire (and brutal he was — each scene of him callously killing anyone that crosses his path reminds me that vampire Stefan is way scarier than Damon ever was).
While Lexi started him on his path back to his humanity, it was falling in love with human Callie, and ultimately losing her when Damon kills her, that completed Stefan’s journey from confused, out of control bloodthirsty vampire whose only thought was when he could feed next, back to noble, caring & protective Stefan who would do anything to protect humans from himself or anyone else who would harm them. (It also began to cement the brothers’ rift, as, before Damon killed Callie, it was Damon who hated Stefan: afterwards, they both had reason to hate each other). Stefan’s vehicle to redemption began with Callie, but he clearly has a long way to go dealing with the guilt of all of the deaths he was responsible for (including, in a roundabout way, Callie’s) before he can truly find salvation. It doesn’t surprise me that the book ends with Stefan vowing to avoid ever loving another human. Not only is he not yet strong enough to handle losing another human love (which is inevitable unless he turns her into a vampire), he has ways to go before he believes he deserves the love of a human.
This brings me back to the everpresent Delena v. Stelena question. As you might imagine, much like Katherine triggered Damon & Stefan’s loss of humanity & Callie triggered the beginning of Stefan’s path to redemption, you have probably guessed that I believe their shared love of Elena to be the vehicle that brings the brothers full circle. Elena is Stefan’s salvation & Damon’s redemption. It may have taken a century and a half, but Stefan is finally trusting himself to love another human (& accepting that he may be worthy of her love) and Damon is beginning the same path to redemption that Stefan started in Bloodlust. Elena’s selfless & generous love of two lost souls has not only moved them forward on their individual paths to redemption & salvation, but it has reignited the brotherly bond that was so irreparably damaged for so long.
Bloodlust shows us how friendship and love led Stefan to reject his natural murderous instincts and embrace his human emotions; good, bad & painful. We are seeing Damon go through that same journey on the tv series — now that he has friends, family and Elena to care about, he is having to fight his murderous nature in order to protect his new priorities. I’m curious to see how Stefan deals with his journey in Craving, because I’m betting we will see Damon mirror that journey on the show.
Much like in Origins, we get a much greater understanding of Stefan in Bloodlust, without really gaining much more insight into Damon’s psyche. I’m hoping that is either because we will one day be treated to Damon’s Diaries (although to be completely honest, I really want to read Katherine’s Diaries!) or we will see Damon’s journey played out on screen. Either way, I plan on being along for the ride!
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