I would like to welcome Shira Rosenblatt, @shirarose1 on Twitter. She agreed to write a review of Stefan’s Diaries: Origins, one of 3 new prequel series books based on L.J. Smith’s books and the TV show The Vampire Diaries. I, personally, have not read it, but plan on doing it ASAP. For those contemplating getting the book, hopefully this review will help your decision. The book is now on sale at Amazon and you can purchase it HERE.
Stefan’s Diaries: Origins Review
I have a confession to make. TVD book fans: don’t hate me, but I am not a fan of the original TVD books. I know, for such a rabid TVD fan and an avid book fan in general (I read at least 2-3 books a week), this surprised me too. It’s not that I didn’t try — as soon as I fell in love with the television show, I immediately bought the books, assuming I’d love the books even more than the show (since 99 times out of 100 I love the source material more than the adaptation). This, apparently, was the other 1% of the time.
So, I resigned myself to the fact that in this one instance, I may just have to stick with the television series (and reasoned that the books were, after all, written for young adults and it’s been quite a while since I fell into that category). But the avid reader in me did feel like I was missing something. And then came Stefan’s Diaries: Origins.
I’ll be honest, I almost didn’t get the book, assuming I’d have the same reaction to this new series that I had to the original book series. I’m really glad I ignored those concerns and bought the book anyway. It was a joy to read and did exactly what a book based on a TV show should do — it enhanced my understanding of the TV characters while doing an admirable job of standing on its own as an engrossing book.
What I found most fascinating was how involved I got in the book (and how it never seemed boring or repetitive) despite my knowing everything that would happen from having watched Season 1 of the show. I credit that to the benefit reading a book always has over watching a 1 hour TV show — in a book you can get inside a character’s head, heart and motivations in ways a 1 hour program cannot possibly accomplish. And get inside Stefan’s head we do.
The entire time I was reading the book I felt like Stefan from the show was talking directly to me. One of the most interesting parts of TVD’s vampire mythology to me is the notion that the human traits one has before they become a vampire gets magnified after they turn. Knowing Stefan as a vampire, I had many pre-conceived notions of what he was like as a human and Stefan’s Diaries doesn’t disappoint.
Stefan the 17-year old human is as noble, kind and dutiful as compassionate, kind Vampire Stefan is. He also has a tendency to be conflicted, jealous, guilt-ridden and a worrywart: all traits we’ve seen mirrored by Vampire Stefan throughout the course of the TV series. He loves his brother, but as with all siblings, rivalry and jealousy is as much a part of their relationship as loven admiration and loyalty.
What’s fascinating is his changing feelings for Katherine (sometimes within the space of a few moments) — not atypical of a teenager experiencing love (or lust?) for the very first time. In reading the book, I finally understood how one moment Stefan could be making love to Katherine, and the next he could be running off to the Sheriff to tell him she’s a vampire. What was most telling for me was that, ultimately, while Damon tried to save Katherine because he loved her, Stefan only tried to save her because he loved Damon. In that respect, the book actually surprises you — it spends the bulk of it’s time fleshing out the Stefan/Katherine relationship, only to ultimately base its climax on the Stefan/Damon relationship.
If I have one criticism of the book it’s that it does such a good job at showing us who Stefan is and where he comes from, that I felt cheated out of not learning more about Damon’s human past (and even about Katherine’s true motivations — as with the show, it’s never really clear just how much of what Katherine says and does is real or truthful).
I freely admit that as much as I love both Salvatore Brothers, I lean more towards Stefan. I can trace my Team Stefan tendencies to one scene in the TV series: the flashback scene when Human Damon helped Katherine dupe a carriage full of people into stopping on the road so she could kill/feed off of them. I can explain away Damon’s homicidal tendencies as a vampire easily (after all, a vampire’s nature/survival depends on the blood of humans). The problem I always had with Damon was that the flashback scene seemed to suggest he had little regard for human life even when he was human. So, my biggest disappointment with the new set of books is that it doesn’t appear we will ever get to peek into Human Damon’s psyche the way we got to for Stefan (the next book continues from when they both turned, so unless they have flashback scenes, Damon is already a vampire in upcoming books). If I could have changed one thing about Origins, I would have made alternating chapters where we would have one chapter from Stefan’s point of view and the next from Damon’s.
Having said that, I am incredibly excited to read the next in the series (Bloodlust) which appears to be focused on the brothers’ relationship after they first turned (this first book had relatively few chapters between the brothers and I missed their interaction). Knowing what we now know from the series about how different Stefan was when he first turned (and how Damon may have actually been the voice of reason at that time), this next book should be a revelation. I, for one, can’t wait.