apricot ribbon

Aside from the supernatural element, something that struck me about The Awakening was because it was one of the reasons I never knew what to talk to boys about (and arguably still don’t). Lemme back up.

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So the basic plot: Elena is a beautiful popular blond. She meets and falls in luv with the vampire Stefan, who first notices her because he looks like his long lost love, Katherine. He was in a love triangle with Katherine with his brother Damien, who has shown up in town to make Stefan’s life hell and also to steal Elena to get back at Stefan. Blah blah blah blah vampires schmampires. Katherine tried to convince them that the three of them could be in a realtionship together until the end of time, but the brothers weren’t into the whole poyamorous thang.

It’s really hard for me to root for a heroine who is beautiful and popular. Of COURSE she is going to get the guy. maybe I am bitter, but I always prefered protagonists who were a bit on the awkward or underdog side. Actually, when Stefan first shows up in town, she asks him out but he declines and she is DEVASTATED. Like, can’t even show her face in school. Calm down, bitch, it’s called humility. But then of course she finds out later that Stefan really DID love her from the start, even before talking to her. Therefore, reinforcing that looks matter the most. He stole an apricot ribbon she wore in her hair and fondles it every night.

Elena has two best friends, Bonnie and Meredith, who seem to exist purely to be involved in Elena’s life. They come to Elena’s rescue after the aformentioned humiliation and conversations revolve around Elena’s life. None of them seem to have drama or interests. I wonder if they get sick of always talking about Elena or appearing only when Elena needs friendship. I’m often the role of the sidekick friends, so this stuck out for me.

They all live in Fells Church, Virginia. Is that supposed to be Falls Church? Nice disguising of the town, LJ.

Stefan is basically Eurotrash. He wears a leather jacket, big singlasses, and wears designer Italian shoes and drives a Ferrari. How very mid-nineties attractive. So he and Elena are so PASSIONATE about each other. THey rarely talk about anything, just spend time together and be PASSIONATE. This irked me then and irked me now. He’s a vampire! She could ask him about that, she could talk about current times, but no, they just gaze into each other’s eyes. Since books were my guide to socialness, I needed HINTS on how to talk to boys.

There’s an incident in a graveyard where some boys were traumatized by Damien but Stefan saves them, but Stefan in implicated, then at their haunted house at school, a teacher is killed by Damien and again it is pinne on Elena.

Basically, nothing much happens in he book except the PASSION.

I remember the following three books getting better…I think?

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42 thoughts on “apricot ribbon

  1. calico drive says:

    i loved this series. What a dilemma for our heroine – 2 hot brothers, one good one naughty. ah memories !

  2. The Kuus says:

    Why are you calling them both Damien? FFS, it’s Stefan and Damon!

    Sorry, I didn’t get much sleep last night.

    Anyway, I liked this series as a teen, but not so much as an adult. As a kid I thought Stefan and Elena were a great couple and it was True Love, but as an adult Stefan looks like that whiny guy who’s always pining for some other girl and making you feel like he just settled for you because he couldn’t have her, and Damon looks like the better choice.

    Blech. That whiny Stefan.

  3. Cassie says:

    The Vampire Diaries were okay, but they were no Secret Circle. I just ordered the first 3 Night World books by L J Smith (they were rereleased)- I’m excited, I haven’t read them before!

  4. RollingStone says:

    I hate beautiful popular heroines, especially ones with problems like not being able to choose between two guys who are both in love with them. THAT’s supposed to be a PROBLEM?!

  5. Nicolle says:

    I read these in Highschool… And LOVED them, but I love vampires… Then and Now. I read them at the same time I was reading Interview with the Vamp and Lestat. Um, I thought it was a good story- I rememeber some description “crystalized violets” and wondering what the hell that meant.

    Um- since then I’ve read TWILIGHT. No blonde popular heriones here. Much better. Don’t give in, leave Elena and Stefan to themselves and the PASSION!!!

  6. The Kuus says:

    Hey, do you remember The Forbidden Game? It was another L. J. Smith trilogy about passionate love and a girl torn between two boys, but in this one the girl was pretty but ordinary looking, and what the boys saw in her was something about her personality, not her looks.

  7. Fraser Sherman says:

    I enjoyed the Night World books. I really, really enjoyed the “game” trilogy. Among other things, it takes several cliches I dislike (evil powers force you to Face Your Greatest Fear for instance) and used them well.

  8. amandahugnkiss says:

    Um, I totally saw “The Awakening” and thought of Kate Chopin. I feel like I missed out by not reading this vampire action!

  9. Sarah Louise says:

    I recall that this series ruled pretty hard. The bit where they have the seance and she invites her true love to come in or some crap, and Damon thinks shes inviting him and comes in, and tries to vampire her so she runs into some room in the house that is part of the old house where he hasn’t been invited. I thought that was the smartest escape of all time.

    And Elena dying and then going to her own funeral? Oh man I thought that was like the coolest thing ever.

    P.S I was super lame back in the day. Probably still am.

  10. tadpoledrain says:

    I used to think that this was L.J.’s BEST SERIES EVER, but looking back, I think it’s actually the worst. The Forbidden Game? Awesome. The Secret Circle? Awesomest. Dark Visions (the one where all the kids are psychics)? Slightly less awesome, but, looking back? Still awesomer than Vampire Diaries, which at the time I thought was angsty, but now I think is maybe just kind of whiny. L.J. is actually writing a sequel about Bonnie and Damon, which… ugh. I don’t think that’s going to turn out so well. I was never into the Night World books, but they’re being re-released (and she’s writing a new one), so no time like the present. And the less said about Night of the Solstice and it’s sequel, the better.

    Why yes, I was obsessed with L.J. books in middle school, why do you ask?

  11. Chance0508 says:

    I loved this series when I first read it…please tell me that someone else here went out and bought an apricot ribbon?

  12. i_c says:

    Sounds like the ‘Twilight’ series, except better. Don’t get me started on how bad ‘Twilight’ is- it isn’t even much good as a guilty pleasure kinda read. This series (with a bad guy who actually sounds… well, bad, and people who aren’t evil DYING) seems more interesting.

  13. Chance0508 says:

    i_c, I couldn’t even get all the way through Twilight. It hammered on my Oh, COME ON! button. By the time the virgin vampire glittered, I was done. Yet I loved these and they even held up pretty well on a reread a couple of years back.

  14. Karmyn says:

    I think I was one of the few girls who didn’t like these books. I tried. Oh, I tried very hard to read them, but just never could. These were probably some of the few paranormal teen horrorlite that I didn’t read.

  15. kris says:

    I have to politely disagree. Yes, these books are all about passion, and Elena is ridiculously beautiful and everyone loves her, but when you’re…you know, 13, that all sounds pretty great. I thought the books weren’t just about Elena’s looks, though. I think the reason she ends up being such a great heroine is that she goes through a lot of character growth. From scheming and manipulation to dedication and selflessness. And she’s a very STRONG girl – not afraid of much of anything, sassy, confident. I loved her for that reason. I think she’s the strongest of the L.J. Smith heroines (in the trilogies, anyway…there are some tough cookies in Night World books). Like…Jenny from The Forbidden Game? I wanted to slap her and tell her to grow a pair. What a wuss. I mean, seriously. How many times does she let Julian seduce her? Like 500. Yet Tom is okay with this.
    My favorite is Cassie from The Secret Circle. I think because she’s a total pushover at first and then kind of finds strength in herself as the story progresses. Also because there’s a fabulous makeover montage when the girls are getting Cassie ready for the dance.

    Sorry, I was/am obsessed with these books.

  16. The Kuus says:

    You know what vampire romances were balls? Those Christopher Pike Last Vampire ones. I swear, that protagonist was about a hundred times more unlikable than Elena.

  17. Snickerdoodle says:

    seriously agreed with the twilight books. Hated them. and what’s the fun of a virgin vampire, anyway?

    never read this series, but i used to be a big lj smith fan. i obsessed unhealthily over the secret circle books. it made me wish i was the thirteenth member of their coven. or something..

  18. Stacey says:

    If the Wakefield twins were unhealthy role models for us growing up then Twilights main character (Bella Swan, how Mary Jane’d out is that?) is the unhealthy role model for today’s preteen and teens. That chick has no mind of her own. She falls in love after three seconds of this guy being mean to her and then wants to give up her family and mortality to become a vamp for his love. I want strong heroines and this chick is pretty weak.

    Sorry, off my soap box now.

  19. Lucy Honeychurch says:

    You know, I went to high school in Falls Church. Now I have to drag out my yearbooks to see which people in my graduating class were vampires.

  20. Rachel says:

    Stacey, ITA about Bella. It really bugs me that her whole life is apparently nothing without Edward. Family? Friends? Screw ’em, I have a Hawt Glittery Boy! Oh, well.

    As for TVD, I just recently re-read these, and I thought they were a lot of fun. Trashy and disposable, but fun!

  21. tadpoledrain says:

    kris, I totally agree about Jenny, at least at first. But I think by the end she’s gotten stronger, too, although her transformation isn’t as good as Cassie’s. And I also think that part of the reason she lets Julian seduce her an infinity of times is because her relationship with Tom has problems that leave an opening for Julian, so it’s less of her weakness, and more of an expression of the weakness between her and Tom (doesn’t make it right, of course).

    Part of my problem, I think, is that I tried to reread The Vampire Diaries a few months ago (for the first time in a looooong time — and I’ve reread Secret Circle, Forbidden Game, and Dark Visions a lot more frequently and a lot more recently than VD, because I always felt like VD was too upsetting and angsty to read too often [yes, I have weird book issues, why do you ask?]), and I had to stop after about 10 pages, because I found Elena so unlikeable. Maybe if I can plow through the first book and get on to the second I’ll remember why I loved these books SO MUCH way back when.

  22. bookslide says:

    The Forbidden Game is a Labyrinth rip-off.

    I got the two-fer reprint of the Awakening and the Whatever. We’ll see how it stands up…

  23. Juanita says:

    I totally loved all the L.J. Smith books and have been dying to read the finale to the Night World for the last like 9 years. I could never decide on a favorite trilogy, although I think Cassie was my favorite heroine. The makeover scene before the dance was great.

    I never thought of the Forbidden Game as being a Labyrinth rip-off though. Granted, it’s been a while since I’ve read the books so they aren’t fresh in my mind, but still – I’m not seeing the comparison.

  24. bookslide says:

    I couldn’t even pinpoint it, but I just reread the series with my daughter and every time Julian’s on the page, I could not stop thinking about Jareth, but with Bowie with his usual ’80s short hair. I suppose, if I take another moment thinking about it, the interactions between Julian and Jenny remind me of the interactions between Jareth and Sarah.

    Also, upon rereading I got pretty irritated at her descriptions of Dee, the token African-American character in the book. She is always being described as either “savage” or like an animal–I think usually a panther. I would LOVE to read a womanist recap of TFG.

  25. Stacey says:

    So there were four books to the Vampire Diaries? And the new re-issues include two books in each volume? I’ve got them on my Amazon wish list, and I want to make sure I’ve got this all right.

  26. sarah says:

    wow. sounds gripping!

    and i just discovered your blog and am loving the whole premise & choice in coverage. the svh/babysitter stuff is bringing back a lot of totally forgotten memories!!

  27. BadKat says:

    Whoa, you used polyamorous in a casual sentence! I have not heard that word since my first feminist theory class with the text from hell. Fancy, shmancy!

  28. tadpoledrain says:

    bookslide: Yeah, that sucks about Dee. (Also, if I recall correctly, she’s the one who doesn’t get paired up with someone, and not that that’s essential by any means, but when Audrey and Michael pair off, and Jenny and Tom pair off, and black, panther-like Dee is left on her own [along with artist Zach]… it just strikes me as being a little off) On the other hand, she said what might be my fave cheesy thing ever, which is “I am as strong as I need to be. I am my only master.” 1, I love it. 2, I love the explanation of where she got it — she starts out saying it’s some ancient wisdom thing she learned in her martial arts classes, and then finally admits that she read it in a fortune cookie. It just strikes me funny.

  29. Cat says:

    I saw this and immediately thought of Twilight, but judging by your recap, this sounds loads better. Maybe it’s the 90s nostalgia in me, but I’ll take Eurotrash Stefan over Edward the Gary Stu of DOOM any day. As for Elena, I actually always preferred the beautiful, popular heroines to the underdog ones. At least it’s believable that these guys would be in love with Elena, as opposed to Twilight, where Bella goes on and on about how plain and unremarkable she is and has no real personality traits aside from being a klutz, yet every guy in Forks High is panting after her. Yeah, right! I also like watching the shallow, bitchy popular girl grow and evolve from someone you love to hate to actual sympathetic character.

    Now I want to read these… is the new version “updated” (like SVH was) or does it still shine in all its 90s glory?

  30. bookslide says:

    Stacey: Yup.

    Hey, was anyone here NOT ridiculously disappointed in the 4th book? It was like watching one of those horror movies after they were good but before they thought up new ways to be good.

    tadpoledrain: Considering that Smith’s intention was to pair off everyone in existence, the Dateless Dee thing was especially weird. It’s like she got to the end and said, “My God, I forgot to put in a second black character for Dee to date! Oh well.”

    I thought that in terms of chemistry, Jenny had the most with

    1) Julian
    2) her cousin

    and finally,

    3) her actual boyfriend

  31. kiwimusume says:

    I just realised that Elena and Stefan are the names of the Sue and Stu in a manga I made when I was a teenager.

    Somehow this seems appropriate.

  32. bookslide says:

    I started rereading it last night and realized that Meredith is the template for a character I have in a book I wrote almost a decade ago whose name is–wait for it–Elena. Since the other “best friend” character is basically Willow from Buffy…Man, I was lame back then.

  33. tadpoledrain says:

    I know, RIGHT? (To both your points, the absence of an appropriate [black] boyfriend for Dee and Jenny’s chemistry.)

    I kinda liked the scene where Julian is disguised like Zach(?), and he and Jenny come *this* close…

  34. bookslide says:

    Oh, tadpoledrain, I’m so sorry I didn’t see your comment ages ago. That scene is pretty hot, what the heck? Between that and V.C. Andrews, no wonder BroYay, twincest, and the like is so popular nowadays.

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