Killing Me Slowly

A leopardess who learned how to dance. And read.
The Return: Nightfall (The Vampire Diaries) - L. J. Smith I've never been much for Vampire Diaries. It's actually probably the lowest on my list of favorite LJ books, ranked slightly higher than Night of the Solstice. The characters were pretty unrelatable to anyone who wasn't the pretty high school queen, the intrigue was for the most part bewilderingly petty (OMG somebody stole my diary! We must find and PUNISH THEM), and it didn't strike me as all that realistic. Well, as realistic as a vampire story can be, right? I didn't really care for Elena as a main character in the originals, because it's kind of hard to become attached to a bitchy, spoiled, cheerleading, boyfriend-stealing high school ice queen that everyone inexplicably seems to love. And Stefan never impressed me as anything more than the whiny, cliche tortured vampire bitch. Damon always struck my fancy, but as a character he's not much different from Gabriel of Dark Visions, or Julian of Forbidden Game, and both of those series had far more intriguing plots. And it kind of bugged me to think of him falling for Elena. Why? Cause she's pretty? She's still kind of a stuck-up superficial bitch, and that doesn't change much until she dies as a vampire.

At any rate, for what it was, I always thought VD had a reasonably good ending, so the need for a sequel kind of escaped me, but after reading it, I'm thinking it was probably because LJ Smith had a whole bunch of other mythology shit that she wanted to cram it full of. I mean, REALLY. Most books stick to one or two different creatures. Vampires and werewolves, vampires and witches, vampires and shape-shifters, witches and shifters, etc, etc. And if they have more than one race, they introduce them slowly, book by book. The Sookie Stackhouse series is a good example of that. But in one book, LJ Smith manages to use psychics, vampires, angels, spirits, her own weird insect-leech-alienish creatures, and of all things, kitsune. It's like a mythology blender.

I think the best way to describe it, as a book, is indulgent. It's like LJ Smith was just writing, thinking "Oooh, this is a cool creature idea! I have no idea how it would fit in the normal plot of the story, but I'll find a way to write it in!" There was no restraint, no logic applied to the book at all. I mean, the vampire characters in the original series were Italian. The humans were all distinctly All-American. There wasn't really ever a mention of anything beyond vampires, ghosts, and werewolves in the first four. And now, all the sudden, our main villains are Japanese kitsune? Really? Of all the mythological creatures in all the world, you pick kitsune, which are relatively obscure in American culture.

You'd think, being the anime fan I am, I'd appreciate the Japanese references (and there are lots of them - she even refers to one character as Isa-chan, and her grandmother as Obaasan, and several spout Japanese phrases, she even goes for a pun or two), but I didn't. Not that the ideas aren't cool, they just feel really, really out of place. It's like an LJ Smith fanfiction written by an otaku who was desperate to show people how cool Japanese mythology could be. It wasn't there for the plot's sake - the plot was there to accommodate the various ideas LJ seemed compelled to share.

And the pairings. The characters in this book are so wishy-washy and unrealistic, and LJ herself doesn't seem to know who she wants to end up with who...

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