by LJ Smith, fantasy (2010)
Harper, $6.99, ISBN 978-0-06-201958-5
Dark Reunion is the last book in the first phase of the series, The Vampire Diaries. I used the words "first phase" because there is another two series later down the road, weird stuff like Stefan's Diaries and such. Oh, and I understand that LJ Smith has been fired from her own series and some ghostwriter has been roped on board to do a VC Andrews on the series, only, of course, LJ Smith is still alive, just smarting from her mistake of allowing her publisher to own her series and her characters, to use and abuse at the publisher's will. I personally think that this book is my last stop in the series, as Dark Reunion manages to do an amazing job in killing my interest in following the rest of the series. And let's face it, I find the idea of slashing my wrists and soaking the wounds in acid far more preferable to reading something called Stefan's Diaries. God, I despise that whining piece of turd.
Anyway, Dark Reunion. This one is odd, because Elena is out of the picture for nearly the entire story, and it's Bonnie who takes over as the main female character here. I don't know why the author switches things dramatically at this late stage of the series. It's the same plot: some great evil is still stalking the town, and Bonnie and Meredith will have to somehow find a way to work with Damon and Stefan to get to the bottom of the matter. That is, if Stefan and Damon didn't kill each other first.
There are some amusing moments in this story, mostly in how Elena's friends are now languishing without a leader to tell them what to do. I like how Bonnie eventually finds the confidence to step out of Elena's shadow and does her own thing. The author does a great job here in depicting teen clique dynamics - Elena actually took them for granted so often in the last three books, but these kids rationalize and interpret Elena's actions into something benevolent - and gently poking fun at the now Elena-free clique while allowing them to retain some semblance of dignity. In fact, Bonnie's character grows as she starts to think and act on her own. I like this.
The pace of the story is still good, although the denouement is very predictable, especially given the events in the last three books. It's just that Damon and Stefan play a big part in the story, and I spend most of the time wishing that they'd just bugger off somewhere else. Yes, I can't stand Damon here. In the previous three books, he's a magnificent nutjob - sexy and amoral. Here, however, he is all bluster and hot air, doing the things that he claims he won't do. This damages his character considerably, as he comes off as some whiny pustule who keeps protesting too much. As for Stefan, I think the author really wants me to die from a burst vessel or something, because that whiny turdball is utterly pathetic here. During the denouement, he actually turns on Bonnie and Matt for crazy reasons, actively refusing to help them because, according to him, revenge is wrong. Even if this means that everyone will die as a result of Stefan being his usual turdball self, because everything is about Stefan. And then he spends the grand climax of the story whining and wailing that everything is his fault. Does this guy do anything other than whining and complaining?
Oh, and love how Elena floats in towards the end to save the day.
Dark Reunion is a readable story if I can overlook the degeneration of Damon's character and the constant uselessness of Stefan, but it feels like the embarrassing family member that is usually locked up in the attic who has somehow broken free to crash the party. In a way, this book wraps up the loose ends in the series so far, but it is a very disappointingly weak follow-up to the previous books. At any rate, I'm done with the series. It has been fun, except for you-know-who, but it's time I concentrate on the TV series instead. At least Stefan in that one is pretty to look at.
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