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Aaand it’s back! The Struggle Part 1

May 24, 2009

Liss and I have been on totally conflicting schedules and I promised to get back to The Vampire Diaries if that happened, so here I am.  Let me tell you, it’s not easy.  After recapping the awesomeness that is the first Night World book, I am having a difficult time picking up The Struggle.  Let’s recap the recaps and find out why:

~*Elena*~ Gilbert is a self-involved, self-obsessed brat of a seventeen-year-old girl who thinks she’s at least twenty-five.  To prove this, she’s blase about a summer trip to France and condescending to her sister Margaret and her guardian, her Aunt Judith, who kindly took both girls in after the death of their parents.  To emphasize this, I put “special snowflake” marks around her name, because you must never, ever forget how special she is.  ~*Elena*~ has no hobbies and no interests outside of boys and imagining how awesome she must look to boys.

~*Elena*~ had a boyfriend named Matt Honeycutt.  I say “had” because she dumps him unceremoniously and after much bs, because Matt is poor and a doormat and treats her well and probably has a family history of male pattern baldness.  Matt is the type of guy who peaks in high school, but that’s not why ~*Elena*~ dumps him, because ~*Elena*~ couldn’t possibly dump the football star unless there were something even better on the horizon.

Well, the “even better” part is debatable, but the guy’s name is Stefan Salvatore.  He’s a transfer student or something from Italy, and he mysteriously hides his eyes behind shades.  We find out later that his eyes are green.  Gasp.  No wonder he hides them.  Stefan ignores the hell out of ~*Elena*~, which of course means that ~*Elena*~ has to fall at his feet.  This proto-Cullen of course is actually a vampire, and doesn’t want to get too close to ~*Elena*~, who, in a strange and annoying turn of events, looks exactly like his dead girlfriend Katherine.   ~*Elena*~ is completely furious at this turn of events and first pretends to have French boyfriend (good going–Matt’s standing RIGHT THERE, you harpy) and then tries to get every other girl to dislike him by spreading the rumor that he’s an undercover narcotics officer.  Remind me to try that the next time I dig on someone.  I hear it works wonders.  Anyway, despite his spending a lot of time with her frenemy Caroline, Stefan comes around because ~*Elena*~ almost gets raped by hairy classmate Tyler Smallwood.  Another pickup line I need to try.

At the same time, Stefan’s ne’er-do-well Eurotrash brother Damon comes in and decides he’s also into ~*Elena*~, or at least enough so to want to screw around with his brother.

Um, and then some stuff happens that I forget already and Stefan disappears and ~*Elena*~’s got to confront Damon.

Oh, and ~*Elena*~ has two friends named Bonnie and Meredith, but they’re utterly interchangeable except for their hair color (red and brown, respectively) and the fact that Bonnie’s psychic and Meredith’s fond of double entendres.  And vampire biting is a metaphor for sex.  Oh, and Katherine killed herself because Stefan and Damon wouldn’t enter into a triad with her.

There.  That’s enough of that.  On with The Struggle.

I remember when I finished The Awakening and I had to HAD TO know what was going to happen.  ~*Elena*~ vs Damon, omg!  Remember now that my young self had no idea that Damon was pulling the mind control–I thought she was legitimately into him like whoa and fighting with herself–that The Struggle, indeed, was ~*Elena*~ vs. ~*Elena*~.  (I wasn’t TOTALLY stupid; I knew there was some supernatural influence there, but mostly I thought ~*Elena*~ was as hot for Damon as I was.)  I wonder now, as an adult, whether the author believes this too.  The books were certainly marketed that way.

It’s so DRAMATIC, ~*Elena*~ standing out in the roaring wind.  I bet she thinks that wind finds her really hot.  That’s why it’s all stirred up.  Actually no, she thinks it’s Damon showing off.  She’s screaming his name like the fishwife she’s destined to be if she doesn’t change her narcissistic ways (imagine THOSE ghosts–the Ghosts of It Girls Past, Present, and Future), and then the moment she gives up, he’s right there next to her.  Of course he is.

She’s like “Where’s Stefan?” and he literally asks “Stefan who?”  Hey, mister, maybe that joke went over well in Renaissance Italy but it’s soooo old now.  Old like yo’ dead mama.  ~*Elena*~, of course, slaps him like uncouth, uncultured Erica Kane-wannabe we all know she is, and despite the fact that he’s a superstrong vampire, his head actually moves when she does it.  Oh okay.

For some reason, Smith thinks this is an excellent time to tell us what Damon’s wearing.

OH OKAY.

I guess it’s the “size 6 and lavalieres” thing.  You HAVE to do it in the beginning of the book, although the idea of someone coming into a series in a second book makes me kinda ill.  I’m a completionist, darn it.  We don’t do those things.  We don’t care that Damon has “disturbing good looks,” whatever that means.  Get on with the action.  Some of us have 15 and a half more chapters to get through and it’s making us cranky.

Also, “his mouth was cruel.”  Does that mean sneery?  Okay, so he’s being sneery.  Thanks for that.

Anyway, she’s all “Stefan’s gone and you killed Mr Tanner” (oh right) “and I’m threatening you even though I probably work out as much as I read books.”  Damon’s like “O RLY?” and ~*Elena*~’s like “Oh right.  Fuck.  I’m a wimpy little girl.”

Blah blah blah, capital-P Power, he’s so connected to, like, the Earth and shit, and ~*Elena*~ totes backs down.  It’s then that he starts pulling the mojo, and ~*Elena*~’s like “Hey girl.  Heyyyyy.”

hg

Not Damon.

We the readers know that Damon is mojo-ing Our Girl because he’s suddenly being realllly nice to her.  And he starts in on how she shouldn’t be with Stefan because he’s only loving a ghost.  Actually, he doesn’t say that but it’s better than what he ACTUALLY says, which is that ~*Elena*~’s so strong, and her anger’s like “a white light like the desert sun.”  Oh God.  I’m hoping that sounds better in Italian, because it translates into pure cheese.

Anyway, he’s like “Wanna get vamped?” and ~*Elena*~’s horrified.

Wait, really?

Look, I hate Bella Swan for sure, but who doesn’t wanna get vamped when they’re all still pretty and stuff?  LIVE FOREVER.  HAVE POWERS.  MAKE THE RAIN GO AWAY WHEN IT’S TIME FOR A PICNIC.  These are all good things.  But ~*Elena*~ feels like she’s going to barf.  I guess cuz it’s ~*unnatural*~.  Well, hey, honey, between the two of us, who wants to fuck virginally make out with the undead?  That’s pretty ~*unnatural*~.

“You can be a Queen of the Shadows,” he offers.  Haven’t I seen that Disney flick?  I think she dies horribly at the end.  It’s not the best offer I’ve ever heard.

It’s around this time Our Girl finally wises up and clears her head.

~*Elena*~’s like “No, I love Stefan FOREVER” (she really does say “forever,” and what a boring eternity that would be, them sitting home alone at night, not watching TV because they have no interests, with ~*Elena*~ saying “Tell me how pretty I am again” ALL THE TIME) and Damon’s flies off the handle because he’s got a brat factor as high as hers.

He tells her that she doesn’t want to play this game with him or something, but what game is that?  In any love triangle, there’s a character–in the case of romance, usually male–who has to be lesser somehow.  Note how many romance novels end with the one guy flipping out, thus clearing the way for our heroine to move on.  All we need to know about Damon’s chances as a side of this triangle are here in this conversation–both sides of it.  The one where Damon thinks they’re being cutesy and flirty and acts (once again, in terms of Smith “bad guys”) like Jareth from Labyrinth, tempermental as a ten-year-old.  It’s funny that Damon thinks in terms of loving ~*Elena*~, because…this ain’t love.  In fact, I don’t think he’ll ever love ~*Elena*~ in this series, and I’m saying that as someone who only remember bits and pieces of the next two books.  I’m saying that as a lit major reading into his character.  Damon will choose to love ~*Elena*~ much in the same way that Batman “chooses” not to love all the women in his life: it’s a meaningless choice.  By setting himself up as single, Batman basically puts himself in the position to fall in love again, hoping to fulfill his need to be with someone “appropriate,” thus completing the circle.  Damon chooses TO love ~*Elena*~ to complete the circle of immature love.  He knows ~*Elena*~ doesn’t want him–or at least he knows it subconsciously.  A good, rounded character would eventually come to realize that he and ~*Elena*~ have nothing in common, but rather it’s his need to love that pushes him toward her.  Maybe even to act out the same thing he had with Katherine–and, by the way, WHO thinks ~*Elena*~ is another Katherine?  Both of ’em, probably.

Of course, this all assumes that the characters are rounded out and worthy of analysis.  Heh.

So yeah, he threatens her family and says she’ll be “his” by winter.  (Oh yeah, THAT’s love.)  He also says that he killed Stefan.  Then it snows on the first of November, and the chapter ends.

I kind of hate this book already.  All of my childhood love for it is totally gone.  Stefan and Matt are pathetic; Damon’s a sociopath and NOT masterful and romantic at all.  ~*Elena*~ is one of the most irritating heroines ever.  Bonnie and Meredith barely have the personalities I remember them having.  I don’t think I felt this badly before I started recapping Night World, and I think at least a part of it has something to do with feeling like Nightfall and most likely Strange Fate is/will be written in this same crappy way.  It’s a sad thing when a writer buys into her own bullshit.

If that’s what happened at all.  Can I go back to my originally-a-joke ghostwriter thing?  I want to live in that world, where there’s someone out there with real talent who stepped in for a second and made Poppy and James and Cliff and Phillip and Grace Kelly Mom fantastic characters.  Where’s the woman who had Mary-Lynette kick Ash?  I’d like to shake her hand, not the unicorn-riding, cheesy-dialogued Eurotrash-lovin’ author of The Vampire Diaries.

It’s going to be a long 15 chapters, I tell you what.

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13 Comments leave one →
  1. May 25, 2009 8:27 am

    what a boring eternity that would be, them sitting home alone at night, not watching TV because they have no interests, with ~*Elena*~ saying “Tell me how pretty I am again” ALL THE TIME

    SO. EFFING. TRUE. I love this sentence so, so much.

    Also, mad props for the Jareth shoutout. I loved Jareth, too. What was up with my obsession with bratty bad boys? At least Jareth had David Bowie’s sex-on-a-stick voice to counteract his immaturity.

    The Struggle was always my least favorite of the series. I’m looking forward to the rest of your analysis on it.

    • bookslide permalink*
      May 25, 2009 8:47 am

      I’m pretty sure Smith loves Jareth too, considering that there’s so much of him in Julian from Forbidden Game.

      Not sure how often I’m going to update in the next two weeks because of the end of the semester, but I wanted to post SOMETHING. If I end up road-tripping with only my daughter, there will probably be nights I’ll wind down by recapping. If we take my ex-bf with us…no clue. It certainly is less likely to have that “quiet” feeling like it did last time the kidlet and I got a hotel room, if only because there’ll be another person in the room who has no desire to watch The Suite Life of Zach and Cody.

    • bookslide permalink*
      May 25, 2009 10:06 am

      Oh, and we’ll be in Birmingham next month. I don’t know if that’s near you, but if it is–want to get lunch sometime? If your childfree-ness is totally off the scale, my bgff can watch the kidlet. (Although most likely, she’d be reading Losing Christina and ignoring us, because I lent her The Fog and she kind of loved it.)

      • May 25, 2009 12:04 pm

        B’ham is only about 1.5 hours from me, so we could definitely meet up one day for lunch or something. I lived there for 4 years and miss it a lot. And no worries about the kiddo – I pal around with coworkers’ kids all the time. 🙂

      • bookslide permalink*
        May 25, 2009 12:16 pm

        Okay, I’ll drop you an email when we have a better sense of the dates we’ll be there. Gotta finish the semester first, but if I finish early, I’m so outta here!

  2. trappedintheattic permalink
    May 25, 2009 5:35 pm

    Love the recap! I hope to have my nonsense figured out but soon.

    • bookslide permalink*
      May 25, 2009 6:39 pm

      You do your thang. I’ve got a final project to plow through. I think I have to change my focus with two weeks to go, so I am cranky as hale.

  3. May 25, 2009 7:45 pm

    It’s BACK=)
    This put me in a ridiculously good mood!

    • bookslide permalink*
      May 25, 2009 8:21 pm

      I’m glad. I was worried about you earlier!

      My Goodreads updates crack me up, because I keep thinking “Book!Sarah’s got enough books on her to-read for THE REST OF HER LIFE.”

  4. January 2, 2010 9:45 pm

    Wow, a review MORE harsh then mine of this book! Shocked I am, truly. You wouldn’t believe the berating I got from teenage girls all over the net for my negative reviews of these senseless books.

    I look forward to reading your review of “The Fury”
    Here’s my review of “The Struggle”and the other “vampire Diaries” books, in case your curious:
    http://supernaturalbookclub.blogspot.com/search/label/L.J.%20Smith

    • bookslide permalink*
      January 3, 2010 8:10 am

      I think a lot of it is nostalgia with older readers, and a lack of reading in younger fans. If all you’re reading is crappy vampire romance that you enjoy, there’s little sense of what’s “good” and “bad,” only what’s entertaining.

  5. Cynic permalink
    September 17, 2010 10:11 pm

    (…)~*Elena*~, of course, slaps him like uncouth, uncultured Erica Kane-wannabe we all know she is(…)

    The fact that you compared Elena to Erica Kane made me laugh so hard.

    It also nearly resulted in my soda spraying all over my keyboard.

    So, thank you for the awesome recap. For realz.

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