…very, very bad

L.J. Smith “The Awakening” (The Vampire Diaries),
The Vampire Diaries (2009) Dir. Marcos Siega (season 1),
Stephanie Meyer “Twilight” & “New Moon,”
Cassandra Clare “City of Bones” (Mortal Instruments)

I’d like to comment on a few popular titles that I find absolutely worthless. I’m not going to review them, but rather express briefly what I think of them. From time to time, I experiment with literature, especially bestselling books, just to see what such a wide audience finds attractive. My “experiment” boils down to reading the beginning chapter(s) of a book to see how unbearable it gets (if it does).

L.J. Smith “The Awakening” (The Vampire Diaries)
“The Awakening” is the first novel in the series. I managed to read the first 2 chapters. I’s quite a typical teen book: badly written, no plot, no substance, no dialogues, with many sweet teens, both human and vampire, and more naivety than you can bear. It seems that books for teenagers don’t have to be well written. It’s like saying young adults are not smart enough to appreciate good literature. That’s disrespectful and outrageous, in my view. Anyways, the novel is about a young and beautiful girl Elena, who comes back to high school after a summer break, and meets a new fascinating student, Stefan, who turns out to be a vampire. If it wasn’t enough, Stefan has an evil vampire-brother Damon (of course, he’s evil, hence the name). The Salvatore brothers fall for Elena, and it’s exactly where their adventures start. Well, as much as it appears to be interesting, I need to warn you – do NOT read it. It’s an awfully naively written book. It’s simple, not stimulating, and predictable. Thumbs down!

The Vampire Diaries (2009) Dir. Marcos Siega (season 1)
This series is based on the L.J. Smith’s books. I watched as much as the first 5 episodes. Unfortunately – I should’ve stopped after the pilot episode. I felt genuine embarrassment watching it, but at least I can discourage you from wasting your time. To start with, this is a really bad production. There’s really no story. The pilot presents multiple characters, but doesn’t show what the series is going to be about. The plot starts to develop around the 4th, maybe the 5th episode, which is an obvious error. Basically, it’s about the same thing as the novels so I won’t summarize it.

As far as the characters go, it’s even worse. The pilot introduces far too many characters (most of actresses look exactly the same so it’s very confusing). Pure chaos. It’s hard to say what part each of them is playing, and which one is important. There’s no clear introduction of the characters. I still don’t remember their names. In contrast, pay attention to how the characters are introduced in “Lost” – we immediately know Jack, Kate, Lock, Sawyer, Charlie, etc. since each of them is distinctive and memorable. Besides, they’re well cast, with basic background info, but no unnecessary info. Unlike “Lost,” the show overwhelms us with too many wishy-washy people, or rather teens. Another disadvantage is their appearance: all glamorous, trendy, with full makeup & expensive clothes. They all look exactly the same. Who could possibly identify with them? Not me, for one. It’s surprising, for example, that Elena has the same makeup and hair all day long, and even at night the makeup (including shiny lipgloss) is there.

There is absolutely no character development – they’re all dull, superficial and artificial like hollow dummies. Not to mention the dialogues – cliché. They might as well not open their mouths at all. I suppose this show is an excuse to hire young, pretty actors (by no means, talented) and turn them into next teen idols. Sadly, it works. Again, thumbs down!

Stephanie Meyer “Twilight” & “New Moon”
Everybody knows what these books are about. In my opinion, they’re about teenagers and their problems, but NOT about vampire (vampires do not sparkle, people!). Similarly, I read as much as first 2 chapters of both titles. From the very first sentence, it’s as bad as you can get. Within those 2 chapters, there were more redundant words and sentences I’d ever read. I can’t image how it is possible that any publisher decided to publish these books. You may agree or not, but they should teach how not to write based on Meyer’s scribble. More about “Twilight” in my review. Both thumbs down!

Cassandra Clare “City of Bones” (Mortal Instruments)
This case is better. Another teen series of novels? Yes. Better than the Smith & Meyer books? Definitely! After only the first chapter, I know the characters, the basic premise of the plot, the setting, even the humor typical for the series (I guess). I’m not saying it’s a masterpiece, but it avoids the redundancies and inconsistencies of the above-mentioned books. At least in the beginning. Anyhow, the book is about a regular teenage girl Clary with a very untypical gift – she can see vampires and other supernaturals though nobody else can. It starts better than the others. However, I don’t mean it’s worth reading. After all, I read only one chapter. Yet, if I was to choose one title I had to finish, I’d read “City of Bones.”

To sum up, popularity doesn’t equal substance. Trite but true. The more readers/viewers turn to a title, the more possible it is the title is not worth your time. Meyer & Smith prove it right. If I was to recommend you something about vampires, I’d say – read the classics!

Long days, pleasant nights,

Veronica Bazydlo

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5 thoughts on “…very, very bad

  1. I’m ashamed to admit it but there are things about “Twilight” that I like. I ‘experiment’ with bestsellers too and right now I am reading it and writing review on it. You know, the books can affect us on many levels and T. is bad at most of them. However I found surprisingly many little details that make this book worthwhile for me. So many actually that I learned not to pay attention to weak style and cheesy dialogue and Bella’s recurrent spells. I’ll try to explain my point soon on my blog. Stay tuned 😉

    And yes, I agree that you can pretty accurately judge the book’s worth after reading only a couple of sentences in most cases. I do that often. And I dismissed “Twilight” like that a couple of months ago. But that is mostly a judgement of style. Sometimes something else gets you involved in a book.

    • Queen of the Grubs says:

      Hi. Thanx for commenting. I agree – books affect us that’s why we are drawn even to those badly written. We are sentimental about things we find there. I can’t force myself into reading Twilight, but I can’t wait for your review.

  2. Queen of the Grubs says:

    Let me just comment in English for others to understand. My intention is to show that we shouldn’t support incompetent authors because they make us insensitive to good literature/movies, etc. Besides, I believe that a good work (novel, short story) can be recognized from the first sentence. Please, feel free to share your opinion.

    • Queen of the Grubs says:

      W przypadku źle napisanych książek, tak. Jednak mnie bardziej chodzi o poziom tych tytułów. Dobrą książkę można poznać po pierwszym zdaniu. Dla przykładu podam “Disgrace” (choć, broń Boże, nie porównuję), która jest rewelacyjna od pierwszego zdania. Poza tym, te tytuły reprezentują dzisiejszą kulturę popową, determinują w pewnym stopniu, co się wydaje/kręci, dlatego powinno być to na wyższym poziomie.

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