Thursday, September 23, 2010

Offers Nothing New to Genre, But Will Still Appeal to Vampire Romance Fans

The Awakening (The Vampire Diaries #1) by L.J. Smith (1991; HarperTeen, 2009, 272pp.)

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 Stefan secretly carries a torch for her, he can’t bear for her to learn his terrible secret: he’s a centuries-old vampire! When Elena eventually finds out the truth herself, the two admit their feelings for each other and try to build up a relationship. Things get dicey when Stefan’s evil brother, Damon, shows up in town, and decides to steal our heroine away for himself. Sound familiar? Despite its Twilight undertones, The Vampire Diaries actually precedes Meyer’s sparkly vampires by at least a decade. Pushed into reprint by the rising interest in vampire literature, this book unfortunately offers nothing new to the genre. To make matters worse, it’s littered with characters that are both flat and uninteresting, and contains plot twists that the reader can see coming a mile away. However, teen readers looking to sink their teeth into more vampire romance will definitely find what they’re looking for here. Recommended for Ages 15-Up.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Have You Heard...?

Gossip Girl (Gossip Girl #1) by Cecily von Ziegesar (Poppy, 2002, 199pp.)

Rumor has it that Nate, who’s dating Blair, is really in love with Serena, but then again, who isn’t? Serena, the “It” Girl of the whole Upper East Side of Manhattan, is more or less perfect (maybe too perfect, some say). According to Blair, (the jealous, ex-best-friend of Serena), she got kicked out of her European boarding school for cutting class, peddling drugs, sleeping around, you name it. Some say she had a baby in France and left it to be raised by an au pair, says Chuck, one of NYC’s adolescent jet set last seen in the ladies’ room at last night’s party feeling up Jenny, Blair and Serena’s classmate with the DD bra size. But Dan, a Beatnik loner with a crush on Serena, doesn’t believe a word of the gossip on his golden girl. Vanessa, however, an aspiring filmmaker with a thing for Leo Tolstoy and her friend Dan, is beginning to have her doubts. Von Ziegesar creates a cast of characters that seem superficial at first, but develop into surprisingly likable people (most of them, anyway). The narrative is a shallow one with more than its fair share of laughs, but wraps up a bit too abruptly for any of the relationship problems to be solved in a realistic manner. All that aside, this giggly, gossipy first volume of the best-selling series is sure to impress teen girls with a taste for chick lit. Recommended for Ages 16-18 for sexual content and rambunctious adolescent behavior.

Click on cover for image source.