Review: The Awakening is the first of a quartet of books originally published in 1991-92. A follow up book, Nightfall, was published in February 2009 in the US.
In The Awakening we are introduced to Elena Gilbert, an orphan who, along with her young sister, is being cared for by her aunt in the family home in the quiet town of Fell's Church.
Elena is beautiful and 'queen' at the Robert E Lee High School. She's gone out with many boys but none has kept her interest and she only feels a deep friendship for her latest boyfriend Matt. But when Stefan Salvatore joins her year she becomes determined to have him. Especially when he shows that he's not interested in her. But Stefan is hiding a big secret and no-one gets close to him.
At the same time that Stefan moves to the area, a series of attacks begins, leading ultimately to a killing. What's the connection between Stefan and the attacks and will Elena get her man? All is revealed before the story is left on a tantalising cliff-hanger.
I was steered towards these books by the trailer for the upcoming tv series and I was looking forward to reading them before the series (hopefully) reaches the UK. An advantage of coming to a series late is that all the books are readily available, without the agonising wait. Unfortunately I was rather disappointed with The Awakening. The main problem being the lead character Elena. I didn't warm to her at all, with her constant comments on how popular she was and how attractive and so on, she came across as shallow. What would the sophisticated Stefan see in her? Her friends, Bonnie (who has psychic tendencies) and Meredith are much nicer, though none of the characters have any real depth. Also, the book is only 230 pages and yet I found it dragged. The saving grace for me was the last 50 pages where Stefan's secret is revealed, another character is introduced and an interesting situation is set up.
I'm probably in the minority of readers who didn't like this book and it has to be said that I'm still intrigued enough to have reserved the next three books: The Struggle, The Fury and The Reunion at the library.
Cover: Accurate cover: a crow and trees feature prominently. Nice font for the title.