2023 Reading Challenge

2023 Reading Challenge
Jill Elizabeth has read 5 books toward her goal of 265 books.

Guest Post: The Vampire Diaries: Book Vs. TV Show

Today’s Book Review Tuesday post offers new spin in two directions. First, it is a guest post, courtesy of Erin at Pagan Spirits. And second, it is a comparative book review/television review combo-type deal. We here at Jill-Elizabeth.com are all about value, you see, and we just love the combo-type deal. As long as it’s not super-sized. That’s just ostentatious. 😉 Enjoy!


The Vampire Diaries: Book vs. TV Show

I’m usually good about reading a book before it’s turned into a movie or TV show. I read Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone before the first movie came out, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets shortly before it came out on film, and the rest of the books long before they made it to the big screen. I was a fan of Sookie Stackhouse and had read all but the latest two of Charlaine Harris’s books about her before tuning in to the True Blood TV series. I read Twilight before it was a movie, then read New Moon, Eclipse and Breaking Dawn in a mad reading binge before I’d seen a single preview of the New Moon film.

When it comes to The Vampire Diaries, though, I dove into watching the TV series while barely aware of L. J. Smith’s books. I knew nothing about Elena Gilbert or the Salvatore brothers before I tuned to for the premiere.

I’ve finally gotten around to reading the first book in the series, The Awakening. One of my FaceBook friends warned me the books were nothing like the series. I was rather skeptical about that; how different could it really be?, I wondered. My skepticism was misplaced. The book is very different.

On TV, Elena has striking dark hair and brown eyes, as does her historical, vampire counterpart, Katherine. In the book, Elena and Katherine are blondes with lapis lazuli-blue eyes. Caroline Forbes, blonde on TV, is auburn-haired in the book. She also lives with both parents, while TV Caroline lived with her mother…at least until Katherine turned Caroline into a vampire.

The setting of the show is Mystic Falls, Viriginia; the book is set in Fell’s Church. In a previous post, I’d said that I thought the TV show was set in New England. I was wrong. It’s still located in Virginia, though you would hardly know that by the character’s accents. L. J. Smith wrote an unrelated series, The Secret Circle books, set in New England, though I didn’t know that when I wrote the original post.

TV Elena has a teenage brother (played by Steven R. McQueen, grandson of THE Steve McQueen); book Elena has a four-year-old sister. TV Aunt Jenna doesn’t have a boyfriend (at least at the beginning of the series); book Aunt Judith is engaged to a guy named Bob. Bonnie is different: African-American on TV, she’s a small, white girl with curly red hair in the book. The character of Meredith didn’t even make it onto the screen.

Which is good, in a way, because the third book in the series (which I recently finished) suggests that young Meredith is dating Alaric Saltzman, history teacher at Fell’s Church High. Book Alaric isn’t really a history teacher, though. He’s a paranormal researcher brought in to keep an eye on the students when the town’s elders see sign of suspiciously vampire-like activity. On TV, Alaric Saltzman IS a history teacher. He used to be married to Isabelle, a paranormal researcher who ran away from home when her obsession with vampires lead her to decide to become one. TV Alaric is in a relationship with Aunt Jenna. This is why I say it’s a good thing there’s no Meredith: it would be slightly creepy to have the history teacher dating a student.

The biggest difference, though, has to be in Stefan and Damon Salvatore. On TV, they were born and raised in Mystic Falls and became vampires in the Civil War era. Perhaps this was simply a bit of True Blood rivalry, though. In the books, the Salvatores are from Italy and much, much older. The acquired their supernatural powers during the Renaissance.

I didn’t particularly like Elena Gilbert in the first book. She’s a silly, shallow, self-centered creature, the sort of stereotypically pretty, popular teenage girl who makes real teenage girls blush with shame. Elena Gilbert is actually the vacuous ice princess Scarlett O’Hara (who was actually quite intelligent, but played dumb to attract boys) was pretending to be. Much ado has been made about Bella Swan’s helpless, self-destructive behavior in Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight series*, but Elena could wear that crown just as easily. By the end of the third book, Elena has undergone a great deal of emotional maturity in a few short weeks. She ends up becoming quite unselfish and likable.

Damon on paper is as detestable as he is on TV. The beating heart of this vampire series, ironically, is Stefan. Like Edward Cullen, he’s a vampire “vegetarian,” preferring to hunt animals rather than people. Unlike Edward, he makes an occasional slip. He has all of Edward’s Byronic, tortured mojo without Edward’s unfortunate, stalker-ish tendencies.

One of the book’s human villains is Tyler Smallwood. On TV, his family name was changed to Lockwood…perhaps to avoid the, um, implied reference to his manhood. TV Tyler Lockwood has good and bad traits. In the second season of the show, he became a werewolf after accidentally killing a girl. Lycanthropy is not a part of the book series, though Damon and Katherine have the ability to shape-shift, and at times Damon appears as a black wolf.

*(Spoiler alert) Some would say what Stephenie Meyer did with Bella in the Twilight Series is comparable to what C.S. Lewis did with the Pevensie children in the final book of the Narnia series, The Last Battle. While merely human, Bella is weak, frail and vulnerable. After death, she is transformed into a graceful, powerful being. Edward changes Bella the way Aslan changes the children at the end of the Narnia series, into beings of beauty they couldn’t have dreamt of previously. In the second book of the Vampire Diaries series, L. J. Smith has Katherine turn Elena into a vampire. Her death and physical transformation are the reason for the change in her personality. Of course, all of this is an allegory for the Christian vision of the afterlife, in which Jesus will transform his resurrected followers into glorious, eternal beings.

Erin O’Riordan writes the general book blog Pagan Spirits, named for O’Riordan’s romance novel series. While the novel series and the blog are aimed at readers 18 and up, O’Riordan enjoys many genres of fiction, including young adult novels.

3 comments to Guest Post: The Vampire Diaries: Book Vs. TV Show

  • Thanks so much for having me as a guest blogger, Jill-Elizabeth! I was glad I could return the favor after your Pagan Spirits guest post on supernatural series that should make it big.

  • I think when you’ve read all the books – including the Stephan Diaries – you’ll get a more rounded view of Damon. You have yet to really see his true nature. The same can be said for Stephan and Elena actually. I’ve read all the books – some not that brilliantly written I have to say (esp the last few) and find myself always eager to find out what happens next.

    I personally don’t like Elena that much. I much prefer Meredith in the books, or Caroline in the series as female characters.

    I really enjoyed all the comparisons here – there are more than I thought. It does mean you get a kind of double dose. Same as True Blood (I read all of them too!). Unlike Twilight, where the movies adhere to the words of books more.

    Great post Erin. Shah .X

    • Her post is indeed great, thanks for your comment and for stopping by Shah! Erin and I will be trying to regularly swap posts, so hopefully I will see you here again!

      Sad to say, I haven’t read the books yet – but I do quite love the show. That made me want to not read the books tho, because usually once I do, I end up disliking one or the other because the things that I like about one often are not present in the other… Sounds like the books are worth a look tho after Erin’s post and your comments, so I will give them a go. Thanks again!

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