This week, I finished the last book of the original Vampire Diaries quartet and also started watching the corresponding TV show for the Book to Movie challenge hosted by Parajunkee. The book definitely did not disappoint. I missed having Elena as narrator – a testament to the character development which took place, given my initial dislike of Elena! And the ending was a little deus ex machina, with an improbable rescue and inadequately explained happy ending. However, the ending was such a marvelously dramatic showdown, I really couldn’t feel upset about it. In fact, I think it would make an awesome scene to watch and hope the TV show gets there and does it justice or a movie happens too. Other than those few complaints, it had all the same strengths as the other books. There were some plot twists I didn’t anticipate, strong female leads, and the writing was at least acceptable.
The TV show was about as bad as book-to-screen translations with a lot of major character changes, poor casting, and I think the point of the plot may turn out to have been changed as well. Elena was neither blonde nor popular, but already a nice, intelligent young woman which would be great except it eliminates a lot of the character development potential. I don’t think either of the guys is especially hot, which is entirely unacceptable in a show that’s supposed to be about sexy vampires. Stefan is at best cute and my first thought when he showed up was that his outfit looked very 80’s. And not very 80’s like Die Hard and Terminator; very 80’s like mullets and high-waisted pants. But he does have a certain charisma and I think he’s growing on me as we see his personality. And Damon… Damon reminds me too much of the bad guy in Red Eye for me to ever think he’s hot.
The characters are very different. Meredith and Bonnie become a character named Bonnie who is basically Meredith but with Bonnie’s psychic abilities. Vickie becomes Matt’s sister. And Elena’s aunt become a grad student who (so far as we know from the first episode) is not engaged. Elena suddenly has a rebellious younger brother with a crush on Vickie, instead of a younger sister. I found this especially frustrating given all the eliminated characters; if we didn’t have time for all the great characters in the book, what are they doing adding a new character and sub-plot?
But most worrisome for the long-term future of the series are the little hints that all is not as it should be with the main plot. Stefen refers to being in Mystic Falls (the town name in the show and another unnecessary change) as coming home and he’s there staying with an uncle. He also says he’s there because he “has to know her”, suggesting there will be some new made-up history with the town allowing him to know she was there. This problem also affects the interaction between Elena and Stefen with an instant, obvious attraction not present in the book.
Overall, I would not recommend the TV show to someone simply because they loved the book. I do plan on giving it more of a chance as a TV show since I have yet to decide if it’s a good TV show in it’s own right. My hopes for a good representation of the book, however, have definitely been dashed.