📚 The Awakening by L.J. Smith

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The Vampire Diaries #1

Description⎮Reviewed Oct. 2016

Narrator: Rebecca Mozo
Length: 6h 31m
Publisher: HarperAudio⎮2009

3.5★ Audiobook⎮ My opinion of The Awakening steadily declined as the story progressed. I started out really excited to begin the series because I am a big fan of the television show. If you are reading this, you might be too. Let me save you six hours and 31 minutes by saying that The Awakening (this book) is nothing like the television series. I’d say it’s at least 95% different from the show.

You’re probably tired of hearing “The book was better”, but that’s true in most cases. If you’ve read my review of The 100, you know that sometimes stark differences between the original publications and television adaptations can be good things. However, I could not find a single thing in The Awakening  that I liked better than The Vampire Diaries TV show.

Some of the differences weren’t so bad. I didn’t mind that the Salvatore brothers had an Italian history (and accents) instead of a Civil War history. Or that Elena was a “mean girl” with a random four-year-old little sister. Or that Bonnie was a redhead (I think) with ancestors who were Druids instead of witches from Salem. Or that Caroline was replaced with some girl named Meredith and Tyler Lockwood’s name was Tyler Smallwood (that one was kind of funny). None of that majorly impacted the story. I could’ve taken those types of things in stride.

But the story itself was just so much of a turn off. The Vampire Diaries is apparently one of those rare instances in which a story is told better on screen than on paper. This story was so poorly told that if I didn’t have my experience with the television show as a frame-of-reference, I would have absolutely hated it.

My problem isn’t that the book and the show don’t perfectly align. I didn’t expect them to. Adaptations rarely match their source material enough to please fans. The storyline actually matched pretty well, maybe more than The 100. But that wasn’t my issue. It was how the story was told that bothered me. The writing wasn’t good enough to make me buy into the story or want to continue with it. If not for my standing interest in the TV show, I would have given up on this by the half-way point.

Comparisons aside, the way this story was told was just plain creepy. I don’t mean creepy as in “spooky” or “eery”. I mean it was everything bad about Twilight with none of the good. Insta-love? Check. Weird obsession with no logical foundation? Check. Voyeurism. Check. Love triangle? Check. Special snowflake? Check. I could continue but do I really need to?

And yes, I realize that most of those things are present in the TV show as well. But that’s exactly my point. For some reason, they are better executed on screen (in my opinion) than in the book. Even if you argue that they aren’t well executed onscreen either, I promise everything is still way worse in the book.

I’m still giving The Awakening 3.5 stars because I did semi-enjoy it up until just before the halfway point. That’s when I realized that it wasn’t going to improve. I finished it only because I’m a trooper… or a masochist. And I’m desperately trying to dig myself out of a whole where my 2016 challenge is concerned. But I definitely don’t think I’ll be continuing on with the series. I was already questioning continuation because it has so many installments (15 or 16 total). Even if this had blown me away, I’m too stingy with my credits to use over a year’s worth on one series and its spinoffs.

No thanks, I’ll stick with the TV show. It has Ian Somerhalder.

Narration review: Rebecca Mozo actually did a really great job narrating The Awakening.  I loved the Italian accents she gave Damon and Stefan. Bless her, that accent didn’t slip once. Mozo was a big part of the reason I enjoyed The Awakening enough to give it 3.5 stars. She provided great characterization and a pleasant listening experience. Her narration helped me make it through the last half of the book. ♣︎

$ Available at Audible/Amazon, Audiobooks.comAudiobooks Now and The Book Depository

2 Comments

  1. I read this book a couple of years ago – before I started on the show. A friend was talking about how great the show was, so when I found a paperback copy of the book for a quarter I thought I’d try it while I was waiting on the hold for season one on dvd to come in at the library. Like you said, the show is so much different and better.

Let me know what you think!