The Return: Nightfall
The Vampire Diaries 5
L. J. Smith
Published 2009 608 pages
Reviewed by Ania Tyburska
Summary (from the book jacket)
Elena Gilbert is alive – again.
When Elena sacrificed herself to save the two vampire brothers who love her – the handsome, brooding Stefan and the sleek and dangerous Damon – she was consigned to a fate beyond death. Until a powerful supernatural force pulled her back.
Now Elena is not just human. She has powers and gifts that were bestowed on her in the afterlife. What's more, her blood pulses with an overwhelming and unique force that makes her irresistible to any vampire.
Stefan wants to find a way to keep Elena safe so that they can make a life together. Damon, however, is driven by an insatiable desire for power, and wants Elena to rule as his princess. When Stefan is lured away from Fell's Church, Damon seizes his chance to convince her that he is the brother she is meant to be with...
But a darkness is infiltrating the town, and Damon, always the hunter, is now the hunted; he becomes the prey of a malevolent creature that can possess him at will, and who desires not just Elena's blood but her death.
I do not know why I bothered to pick up yet another episode of L.J. Smith teenage drama. I cannot even say it is a guilty pleasure, because that would imply that there is something marginally pleasurable in reading Vampire Diaries. And that simply is not the case. I despise the puritanical worldview and the sheer stupidity of most of the characters. It may be true that the young readers should be protected from the harsher elements of the reality, but feeding them with a vision of a black and white town, populated solely by angelic entities and demonic presence is simply wrong.
I guess there is only one reason why I come back to the series and his name is Damon. And from that narrow point of view I should love the book. It deals with the ramifications of Elena's coming back to life, but for the first time Damon is in the one in limelight. His actions, mistakes and later decisions are the fuel for the story. But, and I feel like one of the judges in the American Idol saying it over and over, Lisa Jane it is just a wrong song for you.
This book could have everything: nicely set background and characters, kind of mystical, away from reality atmosphere and a pair of purely evil bad guys. Let me just stop here for a moment, because it is a trait worth mentioning. The diabolic siblings from the Nightfall are true agents of chaos. They do not have tragic past or conventional mental illness that would somehow justified their actions. They just like to hurt people and have incestuous fun, which is truly hilarious because it is a YA novel. They drop from the sky on the unsuspecting town and leave debris behind.
So the scene was set for a decent piece of literature and then it all just exploded in an avalanche of truly idiotic scenes and phrases. “Wings of purification?” I had to read the sentence couple of times to believe that any self indulgent author actually used this nonsense. And my lovely, conflicted Damon spends most of the book in the state best described as TSTL.
Yet another thing drew my attention. YA books normally have a heavy- handed message or rather MESSAGE for their impressionable audience. Do not walk home alone in the dark. Do not have sex before you are ready. And so on. L.J. Smith also gives few hints to her female readers. There is a nice part about consent and how when you’re uncomprehending, stoned or drugged this consent is not plausible, which is of course true and informative. But than she goes on with the analogy (for those who think I read to much into the story I am describing the scene between Damon and Elena in the imaginary house) and starts to insinuate that hurting someone when being mentally incapacitated is also excusable. I can safely say that any court would argue that point.
To wrap it nicely up Nightfall has few recommendable traits. One nice scene between Damon and Bonny in the bathtub, superb antagonists, interesting ending. The rest is totally forgettable. Oh and there are two cases of amnesia in one book. That is got to count for something.
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