The Vampire Diaries: The Awakening

Book review by
Debra Bogart, Common Sense Media
The Vampire Diaries: The Awakening Book Poster Image
Sexually violent book is nothing like the TV show.

Parents say

age 14+
Based on 10 reviews

Kids say

age 13+
Based on 36 reviews

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational value
Positive messages

Elena is not a strong or likable girl. She lies to get what she wants. The vampires have no self-control (no joke). The violence is graphic. Parents are mostly absent. No one has any remorse, no redemption.

Positive role models & representations

Elena, the main character, seems to be completely self-centered. She is beautiful and spoiled and obsessed with Stefan, the vampire character. Both have tragic pasts, yet neither is sympathetic. Stefan ruthlessly murders to feed himself, as does his brother vampire, Damon. Parents are absent . One girl claims to be descended from Druids; and psychic. These vampires are ruthless and unrepentant.
 

Violence

The vampires feed on wild animals and humans alike, including a beloved pet dog. Graphic descriptions of killing and feeding upon the kills. A homeless person and a high school teacher are murdered. A vampire in another century commits suicide. The main character is assaulted and nearly raped by a drunken student; a girl she is with is brutally raped. The rapes are violent but without graphic details. The biting and “turning” into vampires could be seen as violent.

Sex

A girl has implied sex with her boyfriend in a graveyard. The two main characters spend a night in his rented room clearly having sex, without graphic details and no reference to protection. They are obsessed with each other.

Language
Consumerism
Drinking, drugs & smoking

One scene of students drunk at a school dance; one drunken boy attempts to rape the main character and a drunk girl is raped by someone else.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that this book, first published in 1991, has been loosely made into a TV show. It bears no resemblance to the vampire sensation Twilight (other than that a vampire poses as a new high school student and a local girl falls for him). In fact the TV show and Twilight actually seem more similar. The book is very dated and pretty sexist. It is much more a horror story than a romance with graphic violence, including descriptions of the vampire murders of people and animals such as a pet dog. There is an attempted rape of the main character and a brutal rape of another girl. Main characters have sex, barely described.The female characters are not strong, independent, or otherwise positive characters. Unlike more recent depictions, these vampires have no remorse.

User Reviews

Adult Written byChrissy505 October 17, 2009

Really good but a bit inappropriate.

I actually really like this book. Read it its way better than common sense makes it sound. Just because the characters are more complex, and have good and bad...
Parent of a 14 year old Written bysoccerchik58 March 30, 2011
This book is fine for other kids. There is NOTHING wrong with it! HaHa
Teen, 14 years old Written byVampire_Princess320 January 18, 2011

Great series!

The books are nothing like the show, at least as far as I know. But both the show and the books are amazing, but I would have to say the show is better, because...
Teen, 13 years old Written byhotpink78681 January 7, 2011

The Vampire Diaries: The Awakening

I LOVE the Vampire Diaries! Its about true love but also has its dark side!!

What's the story?

A mysterious new student (Stefan) arrives at a high school and the most popular girl in school (Elena) becomes obsessed with him, especially when he tries to ignore her. She uses everyone around her to get him to notice her. Meanwhile murders of animals, pets, and humans start happening around town -- not the time to use the local graveyard as a hook-up spot. When tragedy strikes and Elena and another girl are assaulted it finally gets Stefan's attention.

Is it any good?

This is definitely not a Twilight wannabe. Instead of tons of pining and talk of handsome otherworldy characters and their allure there are almost lurid descriptions of vampires hunting and feeding on animals -- including beloved pets and humans. Gratuitous assaults and a rape do not enhance a story that is basically about life in high school 20 years ago; no cell phones, no Internet, no strong femal characters. And the main characters find true love but don’t find any self-awareness or gain any emotional maturity by the story’s end.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about  whether reading horror or scary stories helps readers to face fear in real life.

  • How can you tell this book was written nearly 20 years ago?

  • Are vampires criminals?

  • Why do people let Elena treat them badly?

Book details

  • Author: L. J. Smith
  • Genre: Horror
  • Book type: Fiction
  • Publisher: HarperTeen
  • Publication date: September 1, 2009
  • Publisher's recommended age(s): 12 - 17
  • Number of pages: 253

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