Here's the recommended reading order for the Vampire Diaries series of novels, followed by a summary and review of the series;
1. The Awakening
2. The Struggle
3. The Fury
4. Dark Reunion
5. The Return: Nightfall
6. The Return: Shadow Souls
7. The Return: Midnight (not yet released)
L J Smith (the author) took an 18 year break after the first four books. "The Return" trilogy continues the story. "The Return: Nightfall" was released in February 2009 and "The Return: Shadow Souls" in Mar 2010. L J Smith, is still writing the last book of the second trilogy - "The Return: Midnight".
You'll LOVE Vampire Diaries if....
-You're willing to forgive the lead character, Elena, for being a little self-absorbed at the start and the queen of her high school year.
-You're just getting into the wonderful world of white-faced, blood sucking, super-human vampires..
-You like lots of action
-You like coming-of-age love stories.
-You want to read the series that probably inspired a lot of more recent vampire books.
You'll hate Vampire Diaries if...
-You can't tolerate a protagonist who's a little bit arrogant/self-absorbed.
-You've got teen vampires coming out of your ears and you're jaded by the recent glut of vampire novels. This series is a well-loved classic but it does have a lot in common with its more-recent vampire cousins (E.g. Twilight).
-You like your vampires ultra-cheerful. This series is a little darker than Ljane Smith's other books.
The Vampire Diaries series is a well-loved young-adult vampire story that has recently been made into a television series.
The story begins with popular (and spoiled?), Elena Gilbert, starting her senior high school year a few years after her parents had both died in a car crash. At school there's a new and enigmatic foreign exchange student named Stefan Salvatore. Elena's falling in love with him but Stefan hasn't noticed her.
The series is full of action and focuses on the love triangle between Elena, Stefan and Stefan's brother Damon. We watch Elena's character mature and are entertained by the interplay between the two conflicting brothers. It's a coming-of-age romance with all the dark, devilish fun we've come to expect from vampire adventure novels.
- Young-adult , Fantasy, Vampire, Horror, Romance,
We love the first four books. Characterisation is strong and they're well-plotted. They're often heralded as better than the twilight saga, not to mention possibly being one of the saga's inspirations. We tend to agree.
We're not so sure about the last three titles in the series. In these books ("The Return" trilogy) Elena's character has flattened into a cardboard cut-out. There's more focus on Damon and his character rescues what might otherwise have been a train wreck of a trilogy.
The series seems to be improving so we're hoping that L J Smith's last book (The Return: Midnight) will make "Nightfall" and "Shadow Souls" worth the read.