A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
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.
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.