I read this series when it first came out, when I was still in high school. I have read a wealth of other authors who write adult novels but still have to say this is my favorite story of all time...that has to tell you something. No other story I have EVER read has inspired the obsession I have with this one. And I do mean obsession; there is no other word for it. It is beautiful, absolutely beautiful. LJS brings these characters to life; they live and breathe, and you suffer their pains and celebrate their triumphs right along with them. You cry with them, you laugh with them, you *are* with them. And when it's over, the emptiness of being without them makes you go back and start all over again. Elena is strong and courageous, with an arrogance only those readers who would be jealous of her in real life would despise. Understand her circumstances, and she is everything you wish you were, and everything you try to be. Stefan is a tragic figure, tortured by guilt and healed by Elena's unconditional love. Damon is dark and beautiful, utterly charming and seductive and fearsome, with an arrogance only Damon is worthy to possess. He will astoud you, frighten you, he will get a hold on you from which there is no escape. Bonnie and Meredith and Matt are the most loyal friends anyone could have, and each has their role to play, and each plays it to their fullest extent. Bonnie's psychic powers are awesome despite her charming inhibitions; Meredith's tragic family history is wrenching and she handles it with admirable strength. Matt's devotion to Elena is almost heart-breaking, and the lengths he will go to for her will never cease to amaze you. Read this story. Treasure it. Let it become your world, and it will truly change you. I speak from experience; it has inspired me in ways I will never be able to describe. And it will continue to do so for years to come.