Mandy Reviews: L. J. Smith—"The Vampire Diaries" (Book 2: "The Struggle")

Book two in The Vampire Diaries, ‘The Struggle’ is where this series really hits its stride. The story picks up directly where book one, ‘The Awakening’ left off, as though it is the following chapter. For this reason, I’d suggest to readers that this is a series that must be read in order.

Golden girl Elena finds herself at the bottom of the social ladder, suddenly an outcast – and it’s all because of her love for Stefan. As the newcomer to the small town of Fell’s Church, he is the chief suspect in the murders and attacks that have had the community on a knife-edge. But only Elena knows Stefan’s secret… he’s a vampire (of the non-human-blood-sucking-variety) and due to some ‘odd’ episodes, is not too sure himself that he isn’t responsible for the attacks.

Stefan’s brother, the cruel and calculating Damon, finally makes his presence known. He’s also a vampire (and not so much of the vegetarian variety) and sets his sights on Elena. He wants her just as much as Stefan does and is willing to kill his weaker brother to get her. When Stefan goes missing after a desperate and violent fight with Damon, Elena turns to her two best friends, Bonnie and Meredith, for help. Using her psychic abilities, Bonnie finds Stefan dying at the bottom of a well. There’s only one way for him to recover… and only Elena knows how.

Elena confesses all in her diary, which suddenly disappears (a great lesson here as to why you don’t *ever* take your personal diary to a party… derr.) Unfortunately, the only way to recover it before the town knows the secret of their friendly, neighbourhood vamp is with the help of Damon. With Elena now in his debt, Damon begins his quest in earnest, willing to destroy anyone who gets in his way.

‘The Struggle’ is a seriously fast read. It moves along at an awesome pace, with barely a slow scene. Elena, who could be a little hard to like in book one, has quickly grown into a far more interesting and engaging character. Even though the reader knows she should be shunning Damon, it’s easy to understand his terrifying allure. And as much as we want to hate him – well – he’s just so ridiculously charming you can’t. Damon is one of the reasons ‘The Struggle’ works so well. He brings with him an eerie, dangerous air of malice, the sort that has you holding your breath far too often. Damon gives the impression that there’s nothing he won’t do to get his way. The author, L. J. Smith. does a fantastic job of giving him a long leash, and no character, main or otherwise, is safe from his conniving, blood-thirsty quest for vengeance. You’re just never quite sure what he’ll do next. Yes, Damon is the perfect vampire.

‘The Struggle’ has so many twists and turns it’s impossible to put down for long. In fact, I finished reading it at 2.45am – and went straight to the bookshelf to pick up book three. (yep, it made for one seriously late night). Trust me; you need to have the entire series of The Vampire Diaries ready to go once you delve into the world of Fell’s Church. Another cliff-hanger ending had me reeling… surely the author wouldn’t do that… would she?

Published by Harper (imprint of Harper Collins)

Paperback, 236 pages

ISBN— 978 0 06 202319 3

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