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The Vampire Diaries by L.J. Smith Cover Picture

The Struggle:
The Vampire Diaries 2

L. J. Smith

First Published 1991 (this edition 2007)          253 pages

Summary (from the book jacket)

A deadly love triangle.
Elena: the golden girl, the leader, the one who can have any boy she wants.

Stefan: brooding and mysterious, he seems to be the only one who can resist Elena, even as he struggles to protect her from the horrors that haunt his past.

Damon: sexy, dangerous, and driven by an urge for revenge against Stefan, the brother who betrayed him.  Determined to have Elena, he’d kill to possess her.

The Vampire Diaries, a tale of two vampire brothers and the beautiful girl torn between them.

The Review

It is nearly twenty years ago now that L. J. Smith first wrote The Vampire Diaries, and gave vampire teen romance to a pre-Twilight generation. The current popularity of Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight ensured a reissue of The Vampire Diaries in 2007. With a TV show in production and new novels (The Vampire Diaries: The Return) planned for 2009/2010 release L. J. Smith’s Vampire Diaries are clearly going to be around for some time to come.

The Struggle is the second novel in this popular series. Written for the Young Adult market the story focuses on Elena, the most beautiful and popular girl in high school, and Stefan the vampire who transfers to her school. The Awakening (the first novel in this series) saw Elena decide that she had to have Stefan as her boyfriend at any cost. Discovering his vampire secret didn’t put her off – neither did the arrival of Damon, Stefan’s evil vampire brother.

The Awakening finished with a cliff hanger ending and The Struggle starts from exactly where that first story left off. As a result The Awakening and The Struggle feel more like one long story rather than two separate novels. For this reason readers will need to read The Vampire Diaries in series order.

The opening pages of The Struggle see Elena realise that Stefan is missing, a victim of foul play at the hands of his brother Damon. Damon and Stefan, both vampires since The Renaissance, have hundreds of years of bad feeling between them. They fought over the girl who turned them into vampires, losing her in the process, and each has blamed the other for her death ever since. History looks set to repeat itself in The Struggle with the two brothers once again fighting over the same girl – Elena.

Elena is a more engaging character in The Struggle than she first appeared in The Awakening and the book is better reading as a result.  Originally her character reminded me of Scarlett O’Hara from Gone With The Wind – she was annoyingly vain, wilful and selfish. In The Struggle Elena’s sense of entitlement is gone making her character a lot less irritating. She spends a lot of time worrying about Stefan and her friends and she doesn’t even care when her own popularity at school plummets.

The plot of The Struggle is action driven. With a stolen diary (that implicates Stefan in murder) which must be found and Elena’s struggle against Damon’s advances - there is no shortage of excitement. Eerie settings and feelings of menace run throughout the story and serve to heighten dramatic tension that builds all the way to the story’s shocking conclusion. The cliff hanger ending guarantees that there will be no shortage of readers seeking out The Fury, the next book in The Vampire Diaries series.

LoveVampires Review Rating:

Review Rating: 4 stars out of 5

Note: In the 2007 HarperTeen re-released edition of The Vampire Diaries the first two books, The Awakening and The Struggle, are published in one volume.

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