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Book Cover Image: Nightfall by L.J. Smith

Title:  Vampire Diaries: The Return Series #1 – Nightfall

Author:  L. J. Smith

No. of Pages:  e-book

First Released:  February 2009

Synopsis (Courtesy of B&N):  “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.”

Comments and Critique:  Disclaimer: I read this on my phone and will not be downloading another one to that particular application.  I don’t know if it was skipping sentences, paragraphs or entire pages, but I missed something.  I tried not to let this impact my overall opinion of the book, but who knows?  In addition, if you haven’t read the first four books in the series, there may be spoilers.  You have been warned.

The fact is, I was not impressed with the latest foray to Fell’s Church.  I was upset with bringing Elena back from the death in the first place.  I thought her death was so unexpected and so brilliant that bringing her back negates that completely and utterly.  And then to bring her back even more powerful and superior?  Seriously?  Why?  What makes Elena Gilbert so fantastic that she has to have everything?  And since I’m going down this road, why does the heroine have to be blonde-haired and blue-eyed?  Haven’t we gone far enough away from these cliches of true beauty?

I have two major issues that I’ve never been able to shake.  First of all, Elena is just not very enjoyable a character, in my opinion.  She’s shallow and self-absorbed.  I detest the descriptions that she was born to manipulate others, especially men, and takes great pride in that ability.  It is not an endearing characteristic.  Second, I do not quite buy the love story.  The intensity of it feels wrong, or at least forced.  As a result, it makes all of Elena’s actions seem forced as well.

As for this book, the voices seemed wrong.  If I did not know any better, I would swear that she was writing dialogue for completely different characters.  Damon wasn’t the Damon I’ve come to know and love.  Stefan wasn’t Stefan.  It was almost as if Ms. Smith forgot her characters, who they were and how they spoke. 

I did not enjoy the plot.  Hell demons and malach?  The story jumped around so much that it felt like continuity was seriously lacking.  I had difficulties figuring out what was happening and to whom.  I found the plot itself difficult to follow, or at least to understand.  In the end, I was left wondering why Ms. Smith felt the need to revisit these characters after so many years.  Given the timing of it, I can’t help but feel that it was purely a commercial decision rather than one made as a writer.  It felt at times as if she was going through the motions and threw the story line together at the last minute, which may indeed explain several of the weak links. 

I know this is going to do well among fans, especially considering the fact that the TV show is doing so well.  Unfortunately, I do not think this is a well-written, well-plotted, continuation to the series.  In fact, as much as I raced through the first four books, I think I am done with the Vampire Diaries as a series.  I no longer care what happens to any of the characters, which is a shame because I loved the freshness of the first four.  However, I am curious what others think.  Have you read it yet?  Thoughts?  Am I alone in my dislike?

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