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Trouble In Paradise

So, when we last saw Elena, she was flouncing around the school after dark, making some sort of corpse-based decoration with her friends and being accosted by a dude with black eyes and a mocking manner who managed to make her forget Stefan’s existence. And I thought that once you’d had your over-reacting lust-at-first-sight moment and done the rape-rescue thing it was automatically true love 4 eva! But no; apparently even though they are, like, totally destined for each other and have been for at least the last four hundred years or so, Elena and Stefan still have a few issues they need to work on.

Like the fact that literally the only thing Elena likes about Stefan is that he likes her, for example:

Once she asked him if he missed Italy, if he was sorry he’d come here…”How could I be sorry, when you are here?” he said, and kissed her in a way that put all questions out of her mind. In that moment, Elena knew what it was like to be completely happy. She’d felt his joy, too, and when he had pulled back she had seen that his face was alight, as if the sun shone through it.

The good times were like that. But he had kissed her less and less frequently of late.

Leaving aside the question of what Stefan would look like if his face actually was alight,

Like I was actually going to let that one go

isn’t it a little bit creepy and narcissistic that Elena only really enjoys Stefan’s company when he’s draped all over her, nudging her with his vampire-y erection (oh, you just know that’s what “felt his joy” actually means), telling her how wonderful life is when she’s in the world, and generally validating her status as the Teen Queen of Smalltown High School? And as soon as they start doing other stuff that doesn’t involve Stefan flouncing around the woods talking about how wonderful Elena is while prodding at her thigh with his Marvellous Marble Rolling-pin, she gets cross and frustrated?


There was never enough time to be with Stefan, and that was frustrating, but even more frustrating was Stefan himself. She could sense his passion for her, but she could also sense that he was fighting it, still refusing to be completely alone with her.

Is Elena really up to the rigours of an actual relationship, I wonder? One where instead of obsessively focusing on each other all the time, you go out and have fun together by focusing on a third thing, like maybe a nice meal or a cinema or a bowling alley or something? Or perhaps she might be happier with a mirror, and one of these. Just a thought.

Did I mention that link is NSFW?

Anyway. Bonnie’s parents are out of town, so Elena and Meredith are sleeping over. For a minute, Yangtze the dog gets out and is menaced by a crow and that crow is totally Damon in disguise and Damon was totally that guy at the school, and that means he has got to be a vampire, and OMG, will there actually be some actual on-screen gore in this book about creatures that survive by draining the blood of other creatures? No; they get the dog back inside again and put on their pyjamas and talk about what they’re going to wear for the Hallowe’en party. And this makes me sad. But I am about to get over this, and you’re about to see why:

“Mine’s easy,” said Bonnie. “I’m going to be a Druid priestess, and I only need a garland of oak leaves in my hair and some white robes. Mary and I can sew it in one night.”

“I think I’ll be a witch,” said Meredith thoughtfully. “All that takes is a long black dress. How about you, Elena?”

Elena smiled. “Well, it was supposed to be a secret, but…Aunt Judith let me go to a dressmaker. I found a picture of a Renaissance gown in one of the books we used for my oral report, and we’re having it copied. It’s Venetian silk, ice-blue, and it’s absolutely beautiful.”

A custom-made…Venetian silk…ice blue…Renaissance gown. That you have cleaned out your college fund to pay for. Genius.

And just in case you think I’m making it up about the college fund –

“It sounds beautiful,” Bonnie said. “And expensive.”

“I’m using my own money from my parents’ trust. I just hope Stefan likes it. It’s a surprise for him, and…well, I just hope he likes it.”

Utter, utter genius. I did actually laugh out loud at this, which is a dangerous occupation when you’ve had two children.

"What do you mean, we're only going to Pizza Express?"

At this point, friends who are even moderately sane, thoughtful and concerned with your welfare would probably stage an intervention. However, since Bonnie and Meredith are the two girls who nearly didn’t go to Elena’s rescue when they were certain she was about to be raped, the chances of this are small.

Things Bonnie and Meredith ought to be saying to Elena at this point
1. You are way over-invested in Stefan
2. If you wear that costume to the ball, everyone is going to laugh at you
3. “Everyone” in this instance may well actually include Stefan
4. Who, by the way, you are way over-invested in
5. I mean, what makes you think he even wants to see you in an ice-blue Renaissance-style gown made out of Venetian silk, in any context whatsoever?
6. But most especially at a Hallowe’en party where we made a pretend corpse out of balloons, magic and string, and all your friends are throwing on any old shit they happened to have around the house
7. Renaissance Italian ballgowns have nothing whatsoever to do with the modern conception of Hallowe’en
8. So you’re going to look ridiculous
9. Again – you are way over-invested in Stefan
10. Did we mention makes no sense whatsoever to clean out your college fund to pay for a Hallowe’en costume?

Things Bonnie and Meredith actually say to Elena at this point
1. We think Stefan should go dressed as Dracula to the Hallowe’en ball.

Although they fail yet again to notice that this is because he looks, dresses and acts exactly like a vampire and therefore might have something to do with the clear and obvious act of vampirism we all happened across the other night.

By all reasonable measures, this chapter ought to have reached its peak of magnificence already, but it hasn’t. Something even better is coming our way. For reasons I’m a bit unclear on, Elena decides she is going to read aloud from her diary. For reasons I’m even less clear on, Meredith and Bonnie don’t actually fall about laughing as she does so (although it’s always possible we don’t get to see this because Elena isn’t looking at them, being entirely absorbed in the sheer beauty of the prose she has produced). Finally, she shares with us what is possibly the stupidest ever opinion anyone has ever had about relationships, anywhere in the world, at all, ever:

“If I knew we were going to break up eventually, I suppose I’d just want to get it over with. And if I knew it was going to turn out all right in the end, I wouldn’t mind anything that happens now. But just going day after day without being sure is awful.”

Seriously, Elena, just get cats instead. You'll be happier.

And then they have a Dumb Supper or a Moronic Dinner Party or something to find out who Elena’s going to marry and the man who is also the crow and is also Stefan’s brother and is also the weird dude from the school shows up and some sexual tension happens and the stupid yappy dog dies, possibly of sheer disgust at the events it’s been forced to witness (yesss!) and Elena is confused and where the hell is Stefan, anyway?

Oh, right, he’s off in the forest somewhere, draining a deer and doing some suffering in case one day he loses the run of himself and accidentally eats Elena.

Less angst, but more rabies. It's a tough call.

Now, here’s the thing. Although I only buy free-range meat, there’s no getting away from the fact that, for me to eat animals, they have to be dead first. On the other hand, this deer that Stefan’s been nomming on gets to walk away with its life. And – while I’m sure it wouldn’t class being tapped for a couple of pints by a passing vampire as a life-enhancing experience – it seems pretty chilled about it.

So where the hell does Stefan get off with all this oh-I’m-such-a-monster-I’m-not-worthy shit? How is it that he somehow feels the human race has the moral high ground over vampires?

Also, singular lack of insight into his own biological processes:

The blood lust…was a mystery to him even now. Although he had lived with it every day for centuries, he still did not understand it. As a living human, he would no doubt have been disgusted, sickened, by the thought of drinking the rich warm stuff directly from a breathing body.

Stefan Salvatore, scholar and Renaissance man, is utterly mystified by the clearly unnatural process of getting hungry and wanting to eat food. Outstanding.

My cats understand Getting Hungry. And they have brains the size of walnuts and think I control the weather.

Finally, we get Stefan’s Vampire-superpowers origin story; and actually, this does explain rather a lot about our poor, fucked-up Mr Salvatore. One hot night in Venice, Elizabeth creeps into Stefan’s bed. He thinks she’s there to shag his brains out, which is a perfectly reasonable conclusion; but no, she says, they’re going to do something else. (Incidentally, is this the Vampire equivalent of We don’t have to do anything, we can just lie here and not touch? Just a thought.) She strokes his throat for a while while he lies there trembling with desire and waiting for her to take charge. And that part’s okay, really; a bit purple and flowery and perfect-orgasm-without-any-stickiness-or-worrying-if-you-look-fat, but hey, we’ll go with it.

Then, having sucked him dry (har har har), it’s time for Stefan to have a go:

Sometime later…he found himself in her arms. She was cradling him there like a mother holding an infant child, guiding his mouth to rest on the bare flesh just above the low neck of her night shift. There was a tiny wound there, a cut showing dark against the pale skin. He felt no fear or hesitation, and when she stroked his hair encouragingly, he began to suck.

I have one word for you, Mr Salvatore, and the word is, “Bitty”.

Run, Elena. Run for the hills.

Extensive online research confirms that you could buy one thousand eight hundred and fifty nine copies of The Vampire Diaries from Amazon for the cost of a single ice-blue Venetian silk Renaissance-style gown. I advise you not to rush into either decision.

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In Which Everyone Gets Angry About The Wrong Things

I’m starting to wonder if the problem here is that I’m way, waaay too old for this shit. I mean, rationally, of course I’m too old for it, since this is a Young Adult book, and I’m about two decades past young-adulthood. But maybe it’s deeper than just the cynicism of age: maybe the modern age operates to an entirely new set of morals and social codes, and all the stuff I tend to assume is part of the shared human experience doesn’t really matter any more.

Like Chapter Seven of this book, for example.

If you’ve been paying the kind of attention I know I can expect from my wonderful, discerning readers, you’ll remember that C6 saw Elena flouncing out of Prom on the arm of charmless meathead Tyler Smallwood (incidentally, I really, really want his name to be a pun). So naturally, C7 opens with Bonnie, Meredith and Matt deciding what they ought to do about this. How this goes down exposes all kinds of uncomfortable truths about the universe these guys inhabit:


“She went with Tyler Smallwood,” said Meredith. “Matt, are you sure you didn’t hear where they were going?”

Matt shook his head. “I’d say she deserves whatever happens – but it’s my fault too, in a way,” he said bleakly. “I guess we ought to go after her.”

“Leave the dance?” Bonnie said.

Now, let’s be clear. This being a YA Vampire book, I’m in absolutely no doubt that Elena is about to be nearly raped by Tyler [note from the future: sometimes, I’d actually quite like it if my faith wasn’t justified], because thanks to Edward and his Volvo, this is what always happens in YA Vampire books. This entire particular convention is, in and of itself, disturbing beyond words.

But this little exchange is possibly even worse.

Firstly, Meredith clearly knows Tyler Smallwood has form for sexual aggression. No-one asks her to clarify what she’s just suggested, so let’s assume this means this is common knowledge. So why the actual FUCK is he still walking around in the world? Of course, we all know why, and I’ve written about it more seriously here. But if the support of the legal system is too much to hope for (and clearly, it is) is it too much to ask that the people who commit these acts experience some form of social approbium? Specifically, does he have to be welcomed to the Prom?

Letting this man into your party not legal obligation, human race finally realises

And then, Matt steps up to the plate. “I’d say she deserves whatever happens.”

I’d say she deserves whatever happens.

Matt’s supposed to be a nice guy; Mr Average who doesn’t get the girl, but can be counted on in a crisis. I’d say, says Mr Nice Guy, that this girl I’m supposed to be in love with deserves sexual molestation, administered by the Kangaroo Court of Mr Tyler Smallwood, for the crime of liking a boy who isn’t me, and flirting with some other boys who are also not me. Is this really how young nice guys think these days? “I suppose we’d better go after her,” he grudgingly adds. Yes, Matt, I too suppose that you’d better make some sort of effort to save Elena from the known sexual predator in your midst, because that might allow you to make some small recompense to women everywhere for allowing the thought of “She deserves it” to cross your mind. Why don’t you get right on with that, then?

Oh, right; because Bonnie doesn’t want to leave the dance.

Dear God.

Let’s leave this sorry group of individuals and head over to the cemetery, where Elena’s ignoring every instinct in her which is telling her to run away. Tyler proves his meathead credentials by attempting to throw a rock at the moon (srsly), then invites her to “flick my Bic” before desecrating a grave or two. This all combines to make Elena “uneasy”. As Gavin de Becker brilliantly explains in his justly famous book The Gift Of Fear, ignoring genuine fear signals is one of the most dangerous things we can do. Sadly, this is a mistake hundreds of us make every hour, so it’s not fair to tear into Elena for doing the same. Also, what happens to her next is not her fault; it’s Tyler’s fault, and although society says he’ll probably get away with it, he absolutely shouldn’t.

So, after everyone’s fooled around in the cemetery and drawn on the tombstones a bit, Tyler charmlessly detaches his victim from everyone else and takes her off into the bushes to tear the clothes off her. Elena fights back a bit, Tyler’s winning, Stefan does a bit of angsting about how the last time he went to the cemetery he accidentally ate a passing tramp, and then he finally goes charging in to the rescue.

Incidentally, The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins is much better than “The Vampire Diaries” in every possible way.

Now let’s look at what Stefan says to Tyler while he takes him apart:

“When I first met you, I knew you hadn’t learned any manners,” said Stefan… “But I had no idea that your character was quite so under-developed…a gentleman doesn’t force his company on anyone…he doesn’t insult a woman…and above all, he does not hurt her.”

So on the plus side, Stefan is at least approximating some variety of righteous anger at Tyler’s criminal behaviour. On the very big minus side – the opposite of “gentleman” is not “rapist”.

According to Wikipedia, the definition of “gentleman” is as follows:

“The term gentleman (from Latin gentilis, belonging to a race or gens, and man, cognate with the French word gentilhomme, the Spanish gentilhombre, the Italian gentil uomo or gentiluomo and the Portuguese gentil-homem), in its original and strict signification, denoted a well-educated man of good family and distinction, analogous to the Latin generosus (its invariable translation in English-Latin documents).”

So basically, “gentleman” means you had rich parents, went to school, had some good conversation and knew which fork to use for the fish course. These are mostly good things, or at least things which are not automatically bad. However, when putting together the typical profile of a rapist, “is unable to correctly identify a soup spoon” does not traditionally appear.

This is because rape is not an act of bad manners. Rape is a crime.

Why this matters is because learning how to correctly judge which men are likely to harm us is something of huge importance to all women, everywhere. As we all know, it’s already difficult enough. During our lifetimes, one in five of us will make the wrong call, and be temporarily fooled by one of these wolves in sheep’s clothing. Suggesting that nice, good-looking men with impeccable table manners can’t possibly have malign intentions towards women is stupid and dangerous.

Tyler is a mannerless pig, who thinks that offering a cigarette lighter to Elena and inviting her to “flick my Bic” is a masterpiece of witty sexual badinage. Tyler is also, as subsequent events prove, a rapist. But Fact A does not cause, equate to or in any other way enable us to spot Fact B. It’s perfectly possible to scratch your belly in a restaurant and still understand in the very heart of your being that rape is wrong. It’s perfectly possible to be able to correctly interpret a wine-list and still be a rapist.

I’m glad that Stefan rescues Elena. I’d have preferred a story where Elena gets herself out of trouble by her own efforts, or even a story where Elena listens to what her own best and wisest self is telling her, and runs like hell out of that cemetery before Tyler gets anywhere near her; but I’ll settle for Stefan saving her, in the approved Vampire manner. But if I do nothing else with what was meant to be a light-hearted deconstruction of an entertainingly bad piece of fiction, I’d like to point this out these few simple facts. In this chapter, we see a man tell two women that their friend deserves to be raped, and they don’t challenge him on it. In this chapter, we see a woman who would rather stay at a dance than help protect her best friend from rape, and she never seems to be ashamed. And in this chapter, we see a man seriously suggest that Not Committing Rape is the sole preserve of the gentleman, who was trained from birth in the ways of civilised behaviour.

Here are some alternative things you could do with the £4.66 it would cost you to buy The Vampire Diaries from Amazon:
1. Buy two copies of The Gift Of Fear, by Gavin de Becker – one for you, and one for a good friend.
2. Buy a copy of The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, which is a much better read all round.
3. Make a donation to your local Women’s Aid organisation.

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Come back Bella and Edward, I didn’t mean any of it

If you get my Facebook feed, you’ll know I’ve spent about forty thousand million billion years snarking about all of the forty thousand million billion things that are wrong with Twilight. On the recommendation of a friend – who clearly felt I needed my Tortured Teen Undead Romance horizons expanding – I have finally got around to reading The Vampire Diaries. I am aware that I’m getting round to this long, long after everyone else and yes, I know there’s a TV series that I also should have watched (but haven’t). But what can I tell you? Sometimes I am very, very slow on the uptake and don’t listen well to what my friends tell me.

My friends tell me I do this a lot. I can't see it myself.

So. I was told to read The Vampire Diaries because it is, apparently, much better than Twilight. (I’ll refrain from describing in too much detail the vast oceans of space and time that lie between the two points of “Better than Twilight” and “objectively any good”). And I’m happy to admit that The Vampire Diaries does solve many of the flaws of Twilight. The human heroine Elena Gilbert is much tougher and more assertive than Bella Swann. The vampire hero Stefan isn’t an insane, controlling control-freak who spends every night counting Elena’s eyelashes while she’s asleep. The plot actually begins at the beginning, rather than showing up when the book’s eighty per cent in. The supporting characters are distinguishable from each other (I can even remember their names without looking). There is no Vampire baseball.

Clearly the word “However” is going to be used soon, but let’s save that for now and do the plot summary. Fragile beautiful girl living in small town lays eyes on pale, muscled, strangely alluring guy with hot car and is instantly smitten. Alluring guy is aggressively rude to fragile beautiful girl, but still rescues her from sexually threatening situations. Once this has happened they are legally obliged to be In Lurve, and yet she senses he is holding something back. He eventually confesses that he is a Vampire. There is a Bad Vampire, who probably twirls his moustachios in the mirror and will inevitably be the subject of a whole lot of oh-Elena-if-only fan fiction. Some people die. There is a prom.

Kristen experiences an unwelcome moment of clarity.

Of course, everyone on the planet who owns a pen, a brain-cell and a copy of Twilight has entertained the notion that they could do much, much better. And in the interests of fairness, I have to say that from a technical standpoint, The Vampire Diaries is, indeed much, much better. I really wanted to like this book, and I tried very hard indeed to do so. I’m sorry to say that I failed.

But, because I’m just that dedicated, I read it anyway. And kept chapter-by-chapter notes, which I will be posting up in batches. Here’s everything you need to know about the first five chapters. Enjoy!

And remember, I do these things so you don’t have to.

Chapter One – we meet our heroine, Elena Gilbert. Elena’s been in France for the summer, in circumstances which are supposed to be mysterious, but I bet it’s because her parents are dead. [Note from the future; yep.] She keeps an annoyingly emo diary, filled with thoughts of Sad Things and Culture, to show that she is a cut above those brainless airhead girls she is forced to associate with. So, that’s nice. Like Bella, she is pale and flawless and beautiful (but blonde. Because Bella’s cornered the market on Brunette). Unlike Bella, she clearly knows it. This makes her less Sue-ish, but more irritating.

On the way to school, a crow gives Elena the once-over. Okay, I’m sure this is supposed to be a surprise, but that crow is clearly a Bad Vampire in disguise. [Note from the future; it was.] Finally, we meet our hero Stefan. When we first see him, he’s draining a rabbit and doing some self-loathing.

Best line of the chapter; “Elena Gilbert, cool and blonde and slender, the fashion trendsetter, the high school senior, the girl every boy wanted and every girl wanted to be.” Kill this woman now, please.

Chapter Two – we are introduced to Elena’s two slavish minions. No, sorry, I mean best friends. Meredith is tall, dark, cerebral and clearly has sex on a regular basis. Jolly good for her. Bonnie is diminutive, ditsy, psychic, has red hair, and thinks that if she perms it, she will look taller. Okay, that’s…that’s not so good.

On the other hand, at least I can tell them apart, right? Maybe this will be better than Twilight after all?

How Bella sees the world.

Next we meet Caroline, who is Elena’s rival for, well, for everything really, and they indulge in some Mean-Girls-style dialogue. As a woman in my thirties, I find this annoying. On the other hand, this is also much better than Bella, who is oblivious to such petty rivalry and would instead be in the library right about now, having gawky thoughts about Romeo and Juliet.

Bonnie reads Elena’s palm, and brilliantly divines that she will soon meet a dark, handsome, not very tall stranger. And then, OMG, a Porsche 911 Turbo pulls up at the school and out gets Stefan, and the entire school creams itself. Just in case Ms Meyer’s lawyers are reading, Stefan is wearing sunglasses, so we can’t see if his eyes are topaz or not. Oh, and when Stefan and Elena are in the same class, it’s History not Biology, she smells like violets not freesias, and they don’t have to look at amoebas. He can still read minds, though.

It doesn't count as copyright infringement if you're being snarky.

Elena and Caroline decide that they will now compete for Stefan. (His opinions and preferences don’t really seem to figure in this plan, so let’s hope he doesn’t secretly prefer ditsy redheads with bad perms.) Elena muses for a while about all the boys she has dated and how empty they leave her feeling and how she is still searching for something, she doesn’t know what, but… something…and decides she will now dump her boyfriend Matt, because she loves him like a brother and he doesn’t satisfy that yearning she has that she can’t put a name to…

Seriously, are modern teenagers this unaware of their bodies? That’s a really depressing thought.

For the record, Matt is not giving any signs of being a werewolf yet, but there’s plenty of time. [Note from the future; as of the end of the first book, Matt is still not a werewolf.]

Then Stefan puts a nasty teacher in his place, making his own small contribution to the ongoing erosion of professional respect for educators everywhere. On the basis of 1) how he looks and 2) how much he knows about the history of the European Renaissance, Elena solemnly declares that He Will Be Hers, Oh Yes, He Will Be Hers.

Oh God. Oh God oh God oh God. I’m trying. I want to like it. I do. But seriously now – isn’t this all a little bit crappy?

Best line of the chapter; “Do you see that jacket? That’s Italian, as in Roma.” Because teenagers everywhere can unerringly spot Italian tailoring at a hundred paces. TRUFAX.

Chapter Three – opens with a brief, angst-ridden insight into the tortured yet fascinating mind of Stefan. We’re in Renaissance Italy, meeting Stefan’s family. Stefan’s brother is called Damon – an unusual choice for fifteenth-century Europe – and he is totally going to be that crow from C1. [Note from the future; he totally was.]

Also authentic Italian Renaissance.

Damon and Stefan are both In Lurve with a girl who is Elena’s Renaissance doppelganger, which will clearly end badly and set them up for an un-lifetime of deadly sibling rivalry. Stefan, I have only had to put up with your company for twenty-seven pages, and already I want to kill you. Let’s hope Elena doesn’t feel the same…

…oh, she doesn’t feel the same! Well, that’s a relief. Here she is giving Matt the kiss-off, and here is Matt making it achingly clear that he will now resign himself to being her little lap-dog for the rest of time. Great. Now I also hate Elena and Matt. Doesn’t anyone have any decency or self-respect around here?

No, clearly not. Elena is now ruthlessly bullying Bonnie and Meredith into keeping Stefan away from Caroline, presumably on the basis that possession is nine-tenths of the law. The path is now clear for Elena to make a fool of herself, which she duly does. Her cunning plan is to pretend that she’s been assigned by the Welcoming Committee to show him around, a plan clearly worthy of Machiavelli. Unfortunately, our actual Renaissance Man is unimpressed by this plan, and rudely storms out of the room. Possibly blocking up his nostrils to keep himself from being overcome by her delicious freesia-scented goodness. I mean violets! Violet-scented goodness. Violets smell completely different to freesias. Cancel the lawsuit.

If Edward had worn one of these on the wedding-night, "Breaking Dawn" would have been better in a great many ways, I think.

Best line of the chapter: “He had hoped to find peace here, but that was impossible. He would never be accepted, he could never rest. Because he was evil. He could not change what he was.” Indeed.

Chapter Four – Elena has what I can only describe as a completely bizarre over-reaction to Stefan not instantly wanting to rip her knickers off in the classroom when she made her alluring offer to show him how to open his locker and where the toilets are. She only laid eyes on Stefan about five hours ago, and already she’s heartbroken that he hasn’t fallen In Lurve with her. Sorry, but occasionally even Bella had the self-awareness to remind herself not to obsess over a very rude boy who she only met a week ago. (Occasionally.) She goes home early and mopes, then her Aunt and little sister get home and she runs out the back door and takes herself off to the graveyard. And there in the graveyard are her parents, oh yes. Didn’t see that one coming.

For some reason, Bonnie and Meredith then show up and beg her to share the secrets of her heart. Oh yes, please, please let’s hear the secrets of Elena’s heart! In a further break with Mary-Sue tradition, Elena actually does share the secrets of her heart, and makes her two friends swear a blood-oath that they will not try and steal Stefan and will totally try and help her get Stefan and none of them will rest until she has got Stefan and nothing in the whole world ever has been as important as Elena getting Stefan and I swear on the graves of Elena’s parents which they are all sitting on while they do this, I am truly not making this up.

NB Stefan has now been in town for about ten hours.

"And if he doesn't marry me within the week, I am going to kill everyone I know."

Back in the graveyard, Bonnie has a psychic moment. Some sinister shit happens. Everyone screams and runs. A homeless guy living under a bridge is the victim of something which we are supposed to believe is Stefan, but probably isn’t. I’m going with Damon. [Note from the future; it was both of ’em. Huh.] In L J Smith’s defence, this does at least mean the plot is progressing at the same pace as the swooning.

Best line of the chapter; “I swear to keep this a secret and do anything Elena asks about Stefan.” A minion in need…

Chapter Five – and let’s have some more angsty I’m-such-a-monster self-hatred from Stefan, shall we? Because really, it’s been what, a whole chapter since we last did that? Stefan has been out for dinner, and this has reminded him of kissing Elena’s doppelganger Elizabeth, which has reminded him of Elena’s violet-scented goodness, which is messing with his mind, and possibly some other part of his anatomy too. We meet his landlady, whose name, amusingly, is Mrs Flowers.

Mrs Flowers' blood smelled of dustbins and fox-vomit

There’s some more filler on Stefan and Elizabeth, but it’s dull, so I skipped through it. She’s a vampire, by the way. Oh, and I want to slap her. Stefan has a nightmare, proving that he does sleep and is therefore so totally not Edward with a slightly less beige wardrobe, and wakes up shouting.

To prove how their Lurve is so true even though they have only exchanged about twenty words, all of them rude, Elena wakes up thinking someone is shouting. I guess we’d better start looking for hats for the wedding, then. Slightly more usefully, Elena now has an even more Machiavellian plan to bag Stefan, which will totally work because it is brilliant. Apparently. I’m hoping it involves a tranquilliser dart and a giant net.

Damn it, there is no tranquilliser dart or giant net. Elena’s new plan is to spread the rumour that Stefan is “a narc” (which I thought was a seller of narcotics, but turns out to be an undercover policeman), which will keep Caroline away from him (Why? How? Is Caroline some sort of juvenile delinquent?) and also to pretend that she has a French boyfriend, called Jean-Claude. Let’s all just contemplate this piece of magnificence for a moment.

Then we go to Bonnie’s house and meet an annoying yappy dog called Yangtze, who I sincerely hope will be dead by the end of the book [Note from the future: yessss!] and Bonnie’s sister, who is a nurse and looks tired and tells them about some homeless guy who was bitten by a vampire under the bridge near the graveyard. Well, she doesn’t actually use the word “vampire”, but that’s because people in vampire stories are always strangely blind to the overwhelming evidence. Full marks for having a plot, L J, but I still hate every single one of your characters.

Best line of the chapter; “The glimmer of white behind a lemon tree. The feel of a sword in his hand; Guiseppe’s voice shouting from far away. The lemon tree. He must not go behind the lemon tree.” Yeah, I have nightmares about lemon trees all the time too.

———————————————————————————————-

That’s all for now, folks! Five more chapters of obsession, self-loathing and lemon-trees coming up soon.


Just in case there’s any doubt – I’m not recommending you buy “The Vampire Diaries”. Also, you probably have a copy already, right? Because I am astoundingly late to this party. However, if you absolutely must, it’s available on Amazon for £4.26.

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