9/01/2010

Vampire Diaries: Show vs. Book - TAKE TWO

About a year ago I wrote a post comparing the (then unreleased) pilot of The Vampire Diaries television show to THE FURY, the first book in THE VAMPIRE DIARIES series by L.J. Smith. See that post here.

Because I wanted to be able to dissect the series and the show simultaneously, I saved up the season's episodes on my DVR so I could watch and read in tandem. I finished reading/watching a month or so ago.

I'd claimed in last year's post that I thought the Vampire Diaries show was better than the book series. Guess what? It's always better to withhold an opinion on something until you have all the information. The television series is not better than the book series. THEY ARE BOTH EQUALLY EXCELLENT - in their own special ways. 

What I learned from the book series:

L.J. SmithI owe you thanks, because you re-taught me of one of the most important lessons about characterization that a writer can ever learn.

So much Young Adult lit these days is close first-person narrative, which allows the reader to really get inside the head of the main character. And who wants to be inside the head of a character we don't like (for very long, anyway)? How long will we stick with a book if this is the case?

THE VAMPIRE DIARIES is written in third person. I don't feel quite as close to characters in this POV. (Unless it's written in close third person and very well - examples for me are the Harry Potter series, the Mortal Instrument series by Cassie Clare and the Demon's Lexicon series by Sarah Rees Brennan.) But third person provides the benefit of letting me observe the shenanigans of multiple characters, as well as letting me see their motivations.

Even from the third person point of view, I found the book series Elana to be narcissistic, inconsiderate, and extremely selfish. And truthfully, I was ready to write off the book because I was ready to write off a character.

Here's where Myra Got Schooled: Over the course of the series, Elana develops deeper motivations for her actions. Her character matures, stretches, becomes LIKEABLE. It might take three books, but it happens.

Here's where Harper Teen Is Smart: I don't know why they chose to package THE VAMPIRE DIARIES the way they did, but right now the first two books in the series are in one volume (THE AWAKENING/THE STRUGGLE), and books three and four are in another volume (THE FURY/THE DARK REUNION). Thank goodness. Because if I hadn't had book two in my hands, I might have stopped reading after book one.

Because the second I finished book two? I drove to the bookstore and picked up books three and four. Because I was HOOKED.

Elena redeems herself, and in the process, L.J. Smith reminded me that the evolution - the redemption - of a character over the course a series is a lovely thing to see.

Coming soon, my thoughts on the television series.

And pictures of the actors on the show. Because really, that's all you want to see.

Don't lie.




5 comments:

  1. So glad you posted this! My daughter and I watch the show together, but I'd never gotten into the books. I have a hard time with her books overall because they are written so plainly so there's nothing to bridge the lack of connection to the characters. When it came time to read this series, I just kept putting it off. But I will definitely have another look.

    Martina

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  2. I felt the same way about the books. I was glad that book two was there because I couldn't STAND Elena at first, but by the end of the second book I was hooked.

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  3. I think your point about the third v. first person is excellent. I think a lot of books written in the first person are hard to distinguish between unless the author is a very strong story teller or extremely skillful at characterization.

    I wrote a blog about this recently. I hope you like it:
    http://livinglittlewomen.blogspot.com/2010/05/third-before-first.html

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  4. I feel like the books and the television show are two totally separate entities because they are so different. I love both of them, but the t.v. show disclaimer should probably just say character names based on the books by L.J. Smith.

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  5. It's time I read these. And maybe watched the show. Seriously, I'm starting to feel like a loser. I might be the only one. But in my defense, I don't watch TV aside from the Food Network (and the occasional train wreck that is The Real Housewives). And vampires scare me.

    But it's time. I have to stop hiding from pop culture. I have become distinctly uncool, I think. And your review makes me want to read them and watch them simultaneously (how long did that take you?)

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