Saturday, April 4, 2009

A Possible Cure for the 'T' Virus?

Yes, it just might be possible, and it comes in the form of one of my favorite authors.

Her name is LJane Smith, and her possible cure comes in the form of a TV pilot.

Back in the early 90's, Smith wrote a book series called The Vampire Diaries, about a popular high-school girl, two vampire brothers, and a little town called Fell's Church that all wind up colliding with each other. Now, this is considered Teen or Young Adult Fiction, but it actually wasn't by choice.

You see, Smith started writing in the 80's, and so she had been writing YA fiction for years before she created The Vampire Diaries. Those around her encouraged her to stay in the YA fiction genre where she was popular, even though she wanted to make The Vampire Diaries more adult. She's even talked about re-writing them the way she intended now that her original fan base is all grown up. I personally am hoping that this TV pilot will reflect that maturity, but we will see how it goes.

Anyway, the point of this is that I have already seen many articles comparing The Vampire Diaries to Twilight, and I really have to take a stand before it goes any further. Here are some key differences in the stories that will hopefully help you separate these two book series' in your mind:

  • The main characters are a little different. The main character in Twilight, Bella Swan, is a pretty, perfect, popular girl who becomes so powerful and so amazing that she breaks the laws of the universe set by the author herself, Stephanie Meyer (we call this a Mary Sue). Smith's main character, Elena, is also a very pretty, popular high school girl, but she is far from perfect. We get to see that she is much more fragile than she let's on, and we get to see her change and mature throughout the series, something that Meyer's flat and stagnant main character cannot possibly achieve, since Meyer purposely did not develop her at all so that the reader could pretend to be Bella in their own minds.
  • The vampires are handled differently in each book. Meyer paints her vampires as gorgeous, pale, perfect creatures who sparkle in the sunlight (I'm sorry, I just can't move past that). Smith's view of vampires however is much more traditional. They burn to death in sunlight and must feed, whether it be on humans or animals (although human blood gives them more strength and power than feeding on animals). Smith's vampires are admittedly not fully traditional however. They actually do not burn in the sun (but certainly do not sparkle), and they do not require any coffins or anything of that sort. They also have no aversion to holy items or places. The differences however are seamlessly woven into the story's universe, and make logical sense, unlike sparking in sunlight. I swear, that just drives me nuts. Also, while Meyers' vampires can reproduce, Smith's vampires can only reproduce and age if they were born vampires; if they were turned, they are stuck at their age and cannot reproduce. You can argue that vampires being able to breed at all is ridiculous, but this fact isn't even mentioned in The Vampire Diaries, it is only brought up in one of her other book series that also contains vampires.
  • The storylines are completely different. While Twilight centers around the relationship between Bella and Edward, The Vampire Diaries gives all of its characters big and small some good screen time (or page time, if you will), and the story is not so much about the relationship between Elena and the two vampire brothers, Stefan and Damon, as it is about the town she lives in, Fell's Church, and some of the darker powers and creatures that dwell there. The town itself becomes a character in a way, making the story's universe rich and enjoyable.

I think the above illustrates my point pretty well. If you're a fan of vampire fiction, or are looking to become one, or have just been turned-off of the genre by Twilight, or even if, and I can't believe I'm saying this, you're a Twilight fan who is looking for something new to read (anyone can reform, right?), The Vampire Diaries is more than worth a look.

I urge everyone to tune in to the pilot (I have yet to see any information on when it is going to air) and give it a look. Even if you just leave your TV on for a half hour while the pilot is on to give it ratings, I wouldn't care at this point. Smith's work is amazing and deserves this wonderful exposure, and the world can use a refreshing break from Twilight.

tl,dr; The Vampire Diaries is the chemo that is curing vampire fiction.

Check out my vlog below on Vampire Diaries vs. Twilight to hear me talk about it in person and to check out my LJane Smith book collection.

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