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 13+
Based on 12 reviews

Kids say

age 13+
Based on 51 reviews

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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.


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.


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.

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

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byImYourMom123 March 20, 2021

So good. My favorite show

Ok everyone says it has lots of sex, it really doesn’t. There are some points where it leads you to believe it or it will show them taking their shirts off. Oth... Continue reading
Written byAnonymous March 12, 2015
Elena, the queen bee of her high school, is confused when the new boy, Stefan, shows no interest in her whatsoever. What she doesn’t know is that although Stefa... Continue reading
Teen, 14 years old Written bytay13 August 29, 2019


I think The Vampire Diaries books are amazing. I will warn you that they aren't really like the tv show, but they are great in their own way. (The characte... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written bylimerox July 21, 2012

Review is very misleading

Review is completely misleading, sure there is violence but its a good story and i dont think the suggested age should be so high.

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
  • Last updated: June 19, 2019

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