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Tuesday, 13 September 2016

The Struggle by L.J. Smith (The Vampire Diaries, #2) - Book Review

4/5 Stars

Love bites.

Can there be any winners...?


Edition: Paperback
Pages: 210
Chapters: 16
Publisher: Hodder

Book Links: Goodreads
                      Amazon
                      Author's Website

Review

Everyone has guilty pleasures. Those things that you experience and know are so ludicrous that they should be bad but really you're completely captivated by them. Well, The Vampire Diaries (book series) is one of mine.

I was sceptical with the first entry, even though it did manage to enamour me. With this instalment, I just thought screw it, I'm throwing myself in. The Struggle, on the one hand, is cheesy, delirious, and often ridiculous; but on the other, it's addictive, flirty, and has the kind of supernatural romance that digs under the skin.

Synopsis (Not a copy from the book, but I always keep my interpretations close.)

Stefan is missing and Elena finds no help in his psychopathic brother Damon.
Which doesn't really surprise her, considering he's the one behind Stefan's disappearance.
So a search is organised, aided by an ally with mysterious gifts.
But is finding Stefan really the best course of action?
As Damon fights to lure Elena to the dark side, the town grows more and more hostile toward Stefan.
Death is on the horizon, and it'll change everything...

Plot - 3/5 Stars

The Struggle, set in a small American town known as Fell's Church (sorry, show lovers, it's not Mystic Falls), picks up directly where book one, The Awakening, left off. To be completely honest, not a lot happens in this entry. The story roughly centres on romantic drama with the supernatural a close second. I'm still hoping for some big arcs, similar to those seen in the show, but only time will tell.

The romantic relations aren't too shabby, though. The author has a way with setting a scene and emotions that's genuine. It's instalove and beautiful people galore, but it's nonetheless riveting, and if you're a hardcore fan of young adult romance with a fantasy backdrop, this series will be a treat.

The end is also much better than what The Awakening offers. A nice surprise sets up an intriguing future, and I feel the author perfectly wrapped things up in a way that'll drive readers forward.

Pace - 4/5 Stars

The Struggle is a slow-burning novel. Its attention to love and chemistry means it's often dwelling more on character mindsets than action and major events. Luckily, thanks to the quality of those insightful moments, the flow is steady and holds the reader's attention.

The novel also clocks in at around 210 pages, so it's a quick read.

Characters - 4/5 Stars

This is where the author spends the most time and attention, and it shows. Characters have definitive personalities and development, whether you love or hate them. There's authentic chemistry between cast members even when the dialogue decides it needs an extra helping of cheese. Along with this terrific tangle of lives, Ms Smith subtly builds our characters. Their progressions are solid and palpable, from Elena's diluted vanity to Bonnie's burgeoning bravery, it all has me sold.

The love triangle, as mentioned by the book's blurb, is also handled exceptionally well. Initially, I was worried we'd have the same old situation of girl can't decide between good-looking angel and good-looking devil. You know, when the reader somehow hopes something will kill the protagonist even though it's extremely unlikely. But the author takes a quieter approach. Elena loves Stefan, and she's so busy fighting for that to be heard that she doesn't even realise her growing infatuation with Damon.

It's a surprise for her, one that's completely unwilling, which helps the reader digest it. When she does admit it, it's genuinely hard for her, and it puts the reader firmly on her side.

Writing - 3.5/5 Stars

The Struggle's writing is simple, yet also elegant. The author sets scenes clearly, but with the focus on cultivating relationships, the tone becomes lyrical as it delves deep into the characters' minds.

And despite not a lot of plot progression, there are some fantastic bouts of tension and suspense.

Overall - 4/5 Stars

I'm probably being overly generous, but I really enjoyed my time with The Struggle. With vampires, psychics, and supernatural shenanigans, it's hard not to fall in love with the love this series offers.


Previous Instalment: The Awakening
Next Instalment: The Fury


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