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Are You a Stefan or a Damon?

November 26, 2008

I’ve had this in my notebook for ages, but I never posted it because I wanted to get to the end of the chapter.  However, I realize now that it’s so long that I may as well post it as is (well, with a couple of edits) and keep moving forward.  Here you go, what I’ve been promising you, the first part of my Vampire Diaries recap!

The Vampire Diaries: The Awakening (Part 1 of I don’t know how many, because this thing is a gold mine)

I was going to do this anyway, but once ihatewheat over at The Dairi Burger posted about The Awakening, I had to immediately pick up my new 2-book reissue and see if The Vampire Diaries lived up to my memories of them.

The main thing I’m doing with these rereads (and all rereads that I do, really) is looking for what my younger self might have missed, but I also want to examine whether these books led to any choices I made as a teenager.  It’s more likely that the Sidney Sheldon, Danielle Steel, and Harlequin Romances shaped my tween perception of sex and relationships, but surely this series–with probably one of the most disappointing endings in all of YA history–must have made some impression, especially since I was in ~*love*~ with Damon.  See, when it comes down to it, everything’s about preferences.

Everyone has them.  To pretend we love everything and everybody equally is a repression of our uniqueness–and by that I mean a damn hippie lie.  You are either an Elizabeth or a Jessica, a Buffy or a Willow, a Java Junkie or whatever the Lor/Chris ship is.  An Anne of Green Gables or an Emily of New Moon.  Harmony or…I have no idea, I didn’t get into the Harry Potter fandom, just the books.  You’re a summer, autumn, winter, or–wait, what’s a spring?   Is anyone a spring?

(In case you were wondering, my own preferences: Elizabeth; Willow; Java Junkie until they changed Luke into a Manly Man–although much love for Digger, YES I SAID IT–Emily of New Moon now but Anne when I was a kid and I reserve the right to change my mind again at any time; anyone but Hermoine and Ron till the last book when they grew a brain, although it still leaves me cold: smart girls need guys who challenge them, or at least I’ve always thought so; and I think I’m an autumn.  That was one awkward sentence.  Sorry guys.)

If you read The Vampire Diaries, you either shipped Elena and Stefan or Elena and Damon.  I shipped Elena and Stefan but only in that way where you default to the couple that doesn’t have your literary boyfriend in it.  Got that?  Elena/Stefan.  ALANA/Damon.

Having only reread the first one so far, I have learned that the book can be summed up as follows:

a) Elena broods about her family

b) Stefan broods about his past and this leads to a flashback

c) Elena wants Stefan and tries to break down the walls he’s put up because of his sad and mysterious past.

Repeat b & c until you run out of flashbacks.  Then get the characters together and sub out “blood exchange” for “sex.”  At various points, have weird and/or tragic things happen where a character shows supernatural ability, but default to the status quo soon after.  Add a dash of Damon, stir, and enjoy.

Annnnywho, welcome to the town of Fell’s Church, where fully 72.4% of the residents have supernatural abilities.  I just made that statistic up but it wouldn’t surprise me if my estimate comes in a little low.  There are times when it seems like EVERYONE in Fell’s Church is a psychic or a vampire or a psychic vampire.  Believe me when I say there are a lot of “special” people in this town.

The most special of them all is a snowflake named Elena Gilbert.  Her main power is attracting every straight male in Fell’s Church–and they’re ALL straight in Fell’s Church, no matter how much BroYay goes on.  Her secondary but just as irritating power is to imagine how beautiful and amazing she must look to her admirers.  She uses this power a lot.

When the book begins, Elena and her family (her aunt Judith and her younger sister Margaret) are returning from Paris.  I don’t know about you guys, but if I’d gone to France as a teenager, I would’ve been gushing about it like whoa even two days later.  Not Our Heroine, who instead writes in her “blue velvet”-covered journal about the disconnection she’s felt since her return, and how she had the feeling her parents would be there upon her return, but they weren’t.  I still find this creepy after all these years, although I do remember it confused me.  You get the impression that her parents are recently deceased, but we find out later this isn’t true.  Anyway, Elena is afraid of something but she doesn’t know what, and feels like she doesn’t belong in Fell’s Church but she doesn’t know where she belongs.  It’s called puberty, honey.  She’s been avoiding her friends since her return, but now it’s time to school.

Fortunately for us readers, the journal entries are usually brief, and third person now tells us how awesome Elena is:

Elena Gilbert, cool and blond and slender, the fashion trendsetter, the high school senior, the girl every boy wanted and every girl wanted to be.

I remember thinking Elena was ~*exotic*~ because she not only went to France but owns and wears a kimono.  It didn’t take a lot to impress me when I was a tween, obviously.

Still, fashion trendsetter?  Elena decides on “a pale rose top and white linen shorts combo that made her look like a raspberry sundae.”  And this is supposed to be from her Paris trip.  Paris, you disappoint me.

Elena ignores her family and we learn that her sister is four and her aunt “always looked vaguely flustered.”  This is as much detail as we’re going to get about them in this book.

Elena is then accosted by a crow–presumably a male crow, who cannot help falling under the spell of Elena’s Magic Heterosexual Power.  It was “looking at her.  Looking the way boys looked at her when she wore a bathing suit or a sheer blouse.  As if it were undressing her with its eyes.”  That’s one emotive crow.  I once thought a lizard was trying to look up my skirt.  That’s not true, because I’m not as narcissistic as Elena, feeling ogled all the time.  It’s so TOUGH being beautiful and popular, guys.

Then the scene changes and we are introduced to Stefan Salvatore, the King of Pain.  He needs to go a couple rounds in a whine-off with Louis from Interview with the Vampire.  This is how bad he is: he might actually win.  This is the first of many scenes where Stefan reluctantly eats an animal–le gasp!  how unnatural!–and angsts about his existence, and flashes ba–oh wait no.  We are teased with a possible flashback that doesn’t happen.  Instead, we are told that Stefan doesn’t know why he’s come to Fell’s Church, but he has.  He is also going to attend the local high school, even though he has no intentions of making friends.  This makes NO SENSE.  He’s been around hundreds of years, surely he’d rather take a course at the community college?  (I’m looking at you too, Edward Cullen.)  But of course then he’d never meet ~*Elena*~ (her name should always be written like that, guys; I’m going to do it) and we wouldn’t have this truly painful story.  So.

Chapter 2.  Time to meet the supporting cast.  We are first introduced to Caroline, who looks “like a model.”  She is described as “slinky,” which the reader will soon come to realize is Smithcode for “slutty.”  Obviously she is a bad person because she is no longer a member of the ~*Elena*~ Fan Club.

Bonnie is tiny and redheaded and has The Sight.  Meredith is tall and brunette and has at least one “elegant eyebrow.”  It occurs to me now that of my best girlfriends, there are no blondes for that extra-special girl group feeling.  Now that I’m thinking about it, the Bangles had a redhead, a brunette, a blonde(ish), and a dirty blonde(ish).  Have I been doing female friendships wrong all these years?

No one lets ~*Elena*~ talk about France.  I’m starting to think that Ms Smith has never actually been there herself and is totally faking it.  Instead, Bonnie reads ~*Elena’s*~ palm and talks about a guy who “was tall, once.”  This is obviously Stefan, who drives up in a black Porsche 911 Turbo–the car I used to use when I did MASH, because it was the only fancy car I could name.  His license plates read “1STEFAN1.”  Just kidding.  Damon would totally do that, though.

Everyone drools because Stefan is h-o-t hot.  I have to agree with ihatewheat: Stefan is Eurotrash.  I want to imagine him as my-daddy-beats-me-I’m-so-wounded-deep-down Logan Echolls (compared to I’m-the-biggest-asshole-in-the-world-but-don’t-you-love-me Logan Echolls, who is obviously Damon) but I was watching Italy play soccer the other day and now Stefan-in-my-head is wearing one of those dippy heabands and saying “Ciao, bella!”  I may have him mixed up in my head with the guy from ShakespeaRe-Told who played Lucentio, as well as Spike from that one flashback in season five Angel.  My head is a busy place.

~*Elena*~ watches Stefan work the mojo on the admissions lady from behind (dirty!) so she does not see him take off his sunglasses when he removes them.  I’m not really sure what’s up with that because we find out later his eyes are green, not yellow or red or some other monstrous color.

He walks past her in the hall and doesn’t look her way.  ~*Elena*~ is shocked because this has never happened before.  Boys, as it turns out, are the most important things EVER:

After all, what was more important than boys?  They were the mark of how popular you were, how beautiful you were.

I HAVE been doing it wrong!  Look, I get that this is meant to illustrate pre-enlightened Elena, but Tween Me probably ate this crap up.

And they were useful for all sorts of things.

Damn, in my desire to not go word-for-word on this book, I completely skipped over Meredith’s fabulous line when someone berates ~*Elena*~ for looking at Stefan when she’s supposedly with some guy named Matt:

“What can you do with two that you can’t do with one?”

Meredith’s reply: “The same thing, only longer.”

I find this not only hilarious, but downright risque for Smith, who generally takes a Sweet Valley High view of high school sex: it doesn’t happen unless you’re bad.  Or a boy.  Or something.  But I digress.

~*Elena*~ is thinking about Matt and how she likes him but she doesn’t LIKE HIM-like him.  The wording here confused me as a kid (hmmm, again?) because it sounds like she’s saying she thinks of Matt as a sister, but it actually is that she has a sisterly affection for him.  ~*Elena*~ treats Matt like crap through the whole book, though, so I fear for little Margaret.

We review again ~*Elena*~’s power to attract men–No boy had ever reisisted her successfully, and no boy had ever ignored her–and her shock.  This is compounded by Caroline’s snotty brush-off at lunch.  I’m giving ~*Elena*~ the benefit of the doubt here because she’s off her game; I don’t think she meant to play a round of Mean Girls with Caroline, but her pride’s already taken a hit once today.  Lunch is also a good time to learn more about Stefan, like that he boards at the home of “Old Mrs. Flowers” and, uh, he’s from Italy.  Obviously, because his name isn’t Stefan Salvataski.  ~*Elena*~ has a class with him, European History.  Bonnie, Matt, and Caroline are also in the class, which is taught by the awful Mr. Tanner.

Before we can get to that well-set stage, Stefan has to brood again.  What a shock.  Also a shock: he isn’t immune to ~*Elena*~’s superpower after all!  And she looks just like someone named Katherine, which distresses him.  He then nobly saves Bonnie from Tanner’s rapid-fire questions by proving his knowledge of the time period in which he was born.  Way to go, champ.  The bell rings on cue, as it always does, and Stefan bolts so he doesn’t have to interact with ~*Elena*~, who makes him feel the bad tingle.  ~*Elena*~ is mortified because Caroline witnessed Stefan not looking at her.  ~*Elena*~, we are beginning to find, has sucky priorities.

The next morning, Stefan has a flashback.  (Just assume the brooding that leads up to it.)  His brother Damon isn’t going back to school.  He likes to hunt and hawk, gamble, joust, and uh, there are women.  I get it now!  Damon is Angelus, and Stefan is Angel!

Katherine interrupts the Conte di Salvatore’s frothy rage.  Her awesomeness, like ~*Elena*~’s, can end war and junk.  ~*Katherine*~ (have to do it) is a delicate flower who is in Italy because of her health.  OR IS SHE?  Stefan is entranced.  Unfortunately for Stefan, Damon is too.  And ~*Katherine*~ is smiling at him, the little slut!  Doesn’t she know she belongs to Stefan??  Stefan then “hated Damon’s dark beauty and grace and the sensuality that drew women to him like moths to flame.”  Either L.J. Smith has forgotten she’s supposed to be in Stefan’s head or else she likes the BroYay.  Anyone want to take bets?

Back in the present day, we learn that Stefan wears a ring on a brain that matches, but for the type of metal, the ring on his finger.  Both have lapis stones.  We also learn that Something Very Terrible happened in the past, but Stefan would go mad if he let himself think about it.  In other words, it’s not time to reveal that to the readers.  Also, he’s evil, although I have no idea why.  Lots of people eat rabbits and avoid sunlight.

JEEZ LOUISE, we’re only 37 pages into this masterwork at this point.  I wanted to do more, but I must’ve psychically known that my fingers would fall off.  I must have ancestors from Fell’s Church.

Coming up: ~*Elena*~ dumps Matt, we meet the town jerks, and Bonnie’s spider psychic sense starts tingling.  I promise to have Part 2 to you by the end of next week!

4 Comments leave one →
  1. lisslalissar permalink
    November 28, 2008 8:34 am

    Is this the series where the heroine tells the rest of the student body that the new hottie vampire is a narc, so that no one else will be his friend and he will therefore HAVE to fall in love with her?

    Fantastic recap so far!


  2. bookslide permalink*
    November 28, 2008 9:31 am

    Yes! I totally forgot about that, but it comes up later in the first book, or early in the second one maybe? And I’m not sure if it was her so much as her diverse (in hair color, anyway) bffs, but ahahahaha.

  3. March 2, 2009 11:31 pm

    I’m late to the party, but DAMN, this is brilliant stuff. I re-read TVD every couple of years and am just amazed. I still love the series (can’t get enough Damon, y’know), but yeah. Not the best writing/plotting/world-building ever.

    I must admit that I use Meredith’s “the same thing, only longer” line whenever possible. That and Damon’s “get away from my brother” were my two favorite lines of the whole series.

    Speaking of Damon, now I know why I was so irresistibly attracted to non-wounded asshole Logan Echolls. I’ve always been a Damon girl. I want to stab Stefan’s whiny face with a spork.

    Funny that you mention Louis from “Interview”…when I first saw the movie, the part at the end where Lestat says, “Louis, always whining” made me immediately think of Stefan. Emo to the max, yo.

    • bookslide permalink*
      March 3, 2009 8:04 am

      Mm, Logan Echolls.

      Wait, what were we talking about? That’s right, LOGAN ECHOLLS. Hee, sorry, I just woke up and didn’t sleep well last night.

      I actually like Stefan more now that I’m older, even though he makes NO SENSE. Where was he all this time? Why is he still acting like a teenager after all this time? Why go to high school and not college? If this is answered later, I don’t remember, so don’t tell me. I’ll get there. : )

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