Title: The Return: Nightfall
Series: Vampire Diaries – The Return
Book five (In the Vampire Diaries series)
Book one (In The Return Series)
Author: L. J. Smith
Published: 10th February, 2009
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
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.
What a mouthful of a title!
My first thought when I started reading this book: Oh! It’s written better than the last four. And it’s actually holding my interest! Great!
My first thought after I finished it: What on earth WAS that? What did I just read? That can’t have been from the same universe as the original Vampire Diaries?!
The one thing about this book that annoyed me was that about a quarter of the way through, this book completely changed.
The plot of this book was just plain weird. It started out sounding and feeling like the Vampire Diaries. Well except, what Elena was at the very beginning was kind of weird. The characters felt more or less like themselves, not including Elena, and the feeling that I started to get was kind of the same.
But then it got weird. I felt like that most of this plot just did not fit in with the world that we were introduced to in the first four books. This book felt more like the bad feeling I get when reading books based on faeries. I just did not like where the plot took this book. At first I thought it was interesting but then as I read on it got confusing, unrealistic for this series and it just stopped feeling like the Vampire Diaries altogether, therefore I got bored.
There is barely anything vampire related in this book. How disappointing is that?! The only mention is of the ‘power’ that Damon and Stefan have. Plus the occasional mention of all the girls Damon drinks dry.
It was a weird read.
Elena is a lot nicer in this book. In the first four she was mean, selfish, self-centred and boring. In this one she cared about other people and had matured a lot. That was nice and I felt like that characterisation is believable considering what she went through. Although there were definite times when I thought that all she was thinking about was her self.
We got to learn more about Bonnie and Meredith in this book. I felt like Meredith was more open, in the last four books she was so distant and it felt like she had no personality. In this one she actually has opinion’s on things and does things. Bonnie feels a lot stronger in this book. She’s still not as brave as Meredith but I still felt like she was stronger. I wonder if that has to do more with the writing? I felt like Matt took a step backwards in this book. In the last book I felt like he had gotten over Elena and was moving on. In this book I felt like all he ever did was pine after her.
Damon and Stefan. Stefan did not brood! Probably because he had Elena. But even then he didn’t pity himself. I liked him better. Damon… Well I think he changed drastically. In the last book I felt like it was obvious that yes he was a ‘bad boy’ but he wasn’t a horrible person. In this book it felt like he had suddenly turned into this person that just wasn’t the same. He was a lot more selfish and nasty in this book I feel. I felt like in the last books he did things for reasons while in this book he did things just because he wanted to or because he could.
The world of this Vampire Diaries doesn’t feel like the same world of the original Vampire Diaries. Things that happened in this book felt like they would have never happened in the last books, like it would have been impossible. I’m talking about certain paranormal things.
I just felt like the consistency of the world wasn’t there. It felt like a completely different world that the same characters were living in. Therefore, the world made no sense to me.
At first I felt like the writing of this book was better. I still agree with that. The writing had more description of what was happening and how people felt. It was clearer of what was going on. Things were mentioned in this book as facts that happened in the last four books. Things that I found myself going ‘Huh? When did that happen?’. Like Caroline and Stefan used to ‘date’? I had no idea it went that far. I thought Caroline had followed him around like a puppy dog but he was never interested in her like that. That’s what I got from the first book in the original series. Well apparently that was the time when Caroline and Stefan were together.
Around a quarter of the way through this book the writing style changed. The voice felt like it wasn’t the same voice that had just told the first quarter of the book or the last four books. It suddenly felt like I was reading about strangers. The characters changed slightly, it felt like they had been transported to a completely different world because that had changed. The paranormal things that were happening didn’t feel like it should have been possible in that world. But here they were completely happening and making no sense what so ever.
Thus rendering this book unlikeable for me. The consistency was all off. It was all over the place. The writing did get better at the beginning but it went down hill from there.
I’m a little confused with the romance. Elena loves Stefan, she may have developed a small crush on Damon at the end of the last series but in the end I don’t think it was big enough to actually consider Damon as a love interest for her. So I really felt like the ‘romance’ that slightly happened between Damon and Elena was completely forced. It felt unnatural actually and it was very painful to read. I don’t want this combo to happen at all in these books. In the TV series, yeah, I want Damon and Elena to end up on that. But in these books? No. It doesn’t feel right at all.
I was really rooting for Bonnie and Damon. It was obvious at the beginning of this book that he was slowly falling for her. And then BAM weird things started happening, the voice and style changed, and so did everything else. Damon suddenly forgot all about Bonnie. Wow. Did that piss me off or what.
I think it’s really hard to carry on a series that was written fifteen years earlier. There are so many things that would make it hard.
Times have changed since the last Vampire Diaries series was written. Technology has advanced so much since then. So if the writer wanted to make the readers feel like it was present day as they read the book then working today’s technology into the story is a must since it would just seem unrealistic if it wasn’t present in the story, it would feel like the writer was leaving something out and would feel off. Even though in the last books there were no cell phones to call or txt people by, and this series is set a week after the last book.
I’m finding hard to put it into words. For instance, the original vampire diaries books were written in 1992, they felt like and sounded like they were written in 1992, everything about those books made me believe that they were set in the nineties, because they obviously were so how could it not feel like it? But that fact never once drew me out of the books, it never once made me think ‘Why don’t they just txt someone for help?’ or otherwise. It felt natural and right so I never questioned it. Where-as in this book I know I would have thought those things all the time because this book felt and sounded like it was the year it was written in, which was 2009-ish.
So I found it weird now reading about how Bonnie keeps forgetting her cell phone to call for help, every time. Man she is forgetful with her cell phone. But I mean how else could Smith have done it? Lines like that to justify why they didn’t just txt Elena for help or how once you were in the ‘old woods’ there was no reception at all so even though Bonnie now had her phone she still couldn’t get a hold of Elena. If Smith hadn’t of worked those things into the story then readers would be sitting there going ‘Why doesn’t Bonnie or Meredith just txt Elena to see how things are going?’, ‘Why don’t they just call Stefan instead of getting Bonnie to Trance?’. It would have made the whole situation weird if cheesy and obvious lines like that weren’t used to justify why they had to drive over to someone’s place to get information instead of just calling them etc.
Then there’s the fact that Smith has grown as a person and a writer since she last wrote this series. So of course it’s going to be different. The writing is better but the style is different, the world feels different, the characters feel different. It would be hard to continue writing those character when you last wrote them fifteen years ago. It would be especially hard to write them as if hardly any time had passed in the story so they had hardly changed. And also, the voice has matured and is therefore different to how the voice was in the original series.
So I think there are many things that contribute to this series just not feeling like the same as the last series. And all for obvious reasons. The consistency of everything is near impossible I feel. It just did not fit.
Overall this book was weird, different and just didn’t feel like it was a part of Vampire Diaries. To me I think it felt more like fan fiction of the Vampire Diaries, even though it was written by the same writer.
There were things that were better in this series, like the writing, but then there were just too many things that I didn’t like about it to actually like it more. The plot for one. It was such a weird plot for this series and I personally don’t think it worked for the world it was set in. I just did not believe it and I didn’t really want to read it nor did I care about what was happening.
Lots of things didn’t make sense. So I was very disappointed and I really don’t know if I can bring myself to read the next books in the series even though they are literally sitting in my to be read pile right now. I mean I really, really want to know what happens but I disliked this book so much that I know I wouldn’t even enjoy the next book.
Have you read this book? What did you think?