Top critical review
Chilling, yet with warm characters
on 16 June 2010
This is the second bind-up for THE VAMPIRE DIARIES. The Fury and The Reunion were originally published as two separate books; in fact, The Reunion was published some time after The Fury, which effectively closes the trilogy begun with The Awakening and The Struggle). In The Fury Elena, alongside her friends Bonnie and Meredith, struggles to control her nature and discover the source of the evil Power that is haunting Fell's Church. She knows that the only way it can be defeated is if the two vampire brothers Stefan and Damon can put alongside their lifelong enmity and work together. In The Reunion Fell's Church is once again being terrorised by an ancient evil. Damon and Stefan are summoned by Bonnie, Meredith and Matt to face down a powerful villain, who is determined to have Elena for his own.
I enjoyed Volume 1 of THE VAMPIRE DIARIES well enough, my biggest complaint being that the heroine Elena was very hard to take to. I had little sympathy for her plight, feeling that she brought a great deal of her troubles on herself. In The Fury and The Reunion, Elena is a far more well-rounded character -- someone I delighted in spending time with. Her remorse for her previous actions is genuine and made me warm to her greatly, especially a very sweet and necessary scene with Matt:
"OK, so you're here. You're alive," he said roughly. "So what do you want?"
Elena was dumbfounded.
"Come on, there must be something. What is it?"
New tears welled up, but Elena gulped them back. "I guess I deserve that. I know I do. But for once, Matt, I want absolutely nothing. I came to apologise, to say that I'm sorry for using you -- not just that one night, but always..."
In fact, all of the characters are stronger and more developed in these two novels, particularly Damon, who changed from more of a pantomime villain who did evil because he is evil to a man who is conflicted over his relationship with Stefan and seems to want to do the right thing.
L.J. Smith evokes chilling situations with her flowing and very readable prose. We learn along with the characters the nature of the threat, and fear of the unknown creates plenty of spine-tingling moments.
In these two novels, my only complaint was that at times Smith employed deus ex machina to solve her characters' problems or ensure that they understood what was going on. It smacked as slightly lazy, but could be forgiven when the actual story was so gripping.
Elena and Stefan remain an extremely likable couple in the world of YA vampire fiction. I think anyone who has tried and enjoyed Twilight will gain a great measure of satisfaction from the writing of L.J. Smith and her version of the vampire with the tortured soul. Readable.