on 8 April 2010
Like many others who have reviewed, the original series of books were a big part of my early teen years and, along with some others, such as Anne Rice, really helped cultivate my love for Vampire related books.
I actually quite enjoyed Nightfall. I re-read the original four books before reading it, and found Nightfall much more enjoyable as an adult. But it was rather strange and disjointed, and whilst Shadow Souls is a bit more coherent, it still has a similar vibe.
Shadow Souls starts where Nightfall ended, with Damon, Elena and Matt off on their mission to go to the 'Dark Dimension' to solve the riddle to find the key to free Stefan.
I appear to be in the minority, but I find the strange world filled with mixtures of myths and folklore that L.J Smith has tried to create quite interesting and intriguing. But something does just seem to be off with it. It's almost as if she just picked random parts of folk lore out she liked and decided to mash them all together, and what comes out doesn't always work. If time had been spent by the author carefully constructing this alternate world that bled through to the 'real world' in Nightfall, and is fully explored by Elena and co. in Shadow Souls, then I think this new trilogy could have been highly successful.
What saves this book I think is the character Damon. Like Anne Rice and her love for her character Lestat, L.J Smith seems to write Damon the most successfully and he is a very intriguing and interesting character.
The trouble with the type of character archetype Damon is, is that it is hard to make him not loose his edge. And there are moments where he comes close in this book. However, the best moments in the book involve him as well. In the book he seems the only character who isn't a bit of a parody.
Whilst I do love the original books, I don't ever think the characters were very well written, with the exception of Damon, so maybe this is why Nightfall and Shadow Souls don't seem to make me as angry as some of the other fans of the original books, because Damon is actually more of a focus in the new books, and a more well rounded character.
Elena, what to say about Elena. I don't think she has ever been a particularly sympathetic character to be honest, she's always been the perfect 'angel' type of character who everyone loves and admires, and just as this aspect has always put me off Stefan even as a 13 year old many years ago, it can't help but still put me off her. The author had a real chance to add some depth to her character in this novel with her growing feelings for Damon, and to be honest some of the best moments in this book are the Elena/Damon moments, but it just isn't explored in any depth or with any real emotion.
Love triangles, if done well, can be very interesting, and if Elena showed any real turmoil over the fact that while her 'one true love' Stefan is locked up she finds herself continually locked in embraces, kisses and general blood sucking with his brother, then the book would have been more believable. Yet no one seems to see it as an issue, even Stefan by the sounds of it, because apparently Elena loves Stefan so much.
Again, the only person who reacts in a believable and interesting manner about the situation is Damon who at many points in the books struggles to resist Elena in his desire not only for her blood, but as a 'man desires a woman.' When moments between them do happen, how much it effects him are the only real moments of love or passion expressed throughout the whole book, no matter how many time Stefan calls Elena 'angel' or she writes about how much she loves him. There are the beginnings of some steamy moments between Elena and Damon, but due to the target audience of the books it never really goes anywhere apart from one time, where it is abruptly cut off an you never know what really happens between them.
Essentially, if you are a fan of Damon's character you will like this book regardless of whether you like him paired with Elena or not, because these new books really are more focused on him. I wonder if many of the negative reviews are because this book has very little Stefan/Elena and even if it was when some reviewers were young and originally read the series, wanted Elena with Stefan.
These books are aimed at teenagers and not even older teenagers, as there is no real adult themes explored at all, unlike some of the other Vampire romance novels aimed at teens since Twilight. I think when reading this new series it is important to remember that and it might make you enjoy it more, and whilst there is some superb vampire literature written for teens these days (and no I don't count Twilight in that group) this isn't one of them, and in my opinion, the series never was, but nonetheless is entertaining and kept me gripped the whole way through despite the wasted potential to make this new trilogy excellent.