Small Screen Scoop is a high-fivin’ supporter of Smart Pop Books. When they approached us about reviewing their latest book about The Vampire Diaries, I lept at the chance and then did a lust-fueled dance with Damon Salvatore a la the episode “Founders Day.” This is because I know how to multi-task. Yup!
Up on the review plate is the book: A Visitor’s Guide to Mystic Falls. The tagline being: Your Favorite Authors on The Vampire Diaries. This book discusses everything from what motivates certain characters to the deep Mystic Falls lore embedded in the series.
One of my favorite chapters in the book is by Kiersten White, and it’s called, “Don’t Be Fooled by that Noble Chin: Stefan Sucks.” (Read an excerpt here.) Granted, I’m already not a major fan of Stefan, but this brought so many themes and ideas into new light for me. It’s a very solid character study. And speaking of character studies…
Another chapter I loved was by Heidi R. Kling with, “Case Notes: Salvatore, Stefan and Salvatore, Damon.” (Read an excerpt here.) She takes on a clinical view, giving you what could be considered leaked case files from a therapist studying these two brothers. The idea of reading something you shouldn’t made it all the more juicy.
“Sweet Caroline” (read an excerpt here) by Jennifer Lynn Barnes blew me away with her assessment of Caroline Forbes. If there was ever a way to make Caroline even more near-and-dear to us, it’s by reading this piece. You may be surprised to realize that the “bitch” archetype doesn’t really apply to Caroline as much as everyone (including Caroline herself) would have you believe. Much as we might like to imagine that we’re the “Elena” of this story, many of us are “Caroline’s” in our lives. (Gasp! It’s okay!) It’s very therapeutic (free therapy, yay!) to read a bit about what Caroline’s struggles and defining characteristics.
Following up this chapter is one called “Dear Diary” (read an excerpt here) by Karen Mahoney. It was written in a very approachable way that didn’t seem stale, even though the idea of “diaries” might seem like one not worth delving into for a while. Turns out, it’s very much worth your attention (it was worth mine, maybe even for a specific chapter re-read.)
Now, Sarah Rees Brennan had a chapter on “Women Who Love Vampires Who Eat Women.” What distracted me here is that there were constant references to Buffy Summers of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Bella Swan of Twilight. I could sense Brennan’s love for BTVS (especially in her use of the word “Eviltonia”) but maybe it’s my lack of respect for the Twilight series that found the constant comparisons annoying. As much as I love BTVS I really would have liked to see at least one more female character brought into this chapter. Surely Bella and Buffy aren’t the only two ladies who have fallen for vampires! Despite some genuine insight and humor, she kept coming back to those same two famous references*.
This is a reason why I especially loved when contributors like Jon Skovrn and Mary Borsellino brought in references to a wider selection of pop culture such as Frankenstein, Blade and Blood: The Last Vampire. I may not be as familiar with those titles, but it gives the book much more perspective and depth.
I know I keep gushing, but there is one more chapter that really stood out to me, that I want to mention. It’s the last chapter, “A Visitor’s Guide to Fells Church” (read an excerpt here.) It’s by none other than the editor’s of the book, Red and Vee. What they did was provide a very witty, concise explanation of the ways The Vampire Diaries, the TV series, compares/contrasts to The Vampire Diaries, the novels. Despite being a fan of the show already, nothing has given me such clear answers about the difference, or really made me feel encouraged to dabble in reading the L.J. Smith novels. Surprised, and armed with a longer library list, I feel happy.
I absolutely love the cover of the book. It completely encompasses the idea that this is a book about the entire show, not just the main characters, or even just the characters themselves. For legal reasons I’m not sure if an unauthorized book can use actual photos from the show, but it works in their favor anyway. (Red and Vee posted some facts about the cover, if you’re interested. P.S. Get interested!)
Every contributor has a strong voice, and I can’t imagine the amount of effort they put in to make sure they had their chapter just the way they wanted it. And, of course, now that Season 2 has begun, some of what they’ve said is already disproved. But that’s the nature of the beast, and their thoughts for the knowledge they had doesn’t make them any less interesting. Plus, there is a very good chance for a Smart Pop Book to come out in the aftermath of the season 2 finale of The Vampire Diaries. After all, we’re learning so much and we’re not even to episode 10 yet!
If you can’t get enough of your favorite show, buy this book and read these carefully written chapters to fuel your love and broaden your own insights into the show. You won’t agree with everything, and that’s okay. You don’t agree with everything that happens on the show, but you still watch, right? There you go!
Buy the book: On Amazon
Visit: Smart Pop Books for a wide selection of books on all of your favorite TV shows from Gilmore Girls to Supernatural.
*I hate being critical, and yet my job here is to actually use a critical eye in reviews. I by no means disliked this chapter entirely. I respect all of the authors who are a part of this book, so much so that I’m adding this note just so you guys know that I am only being honest with what, personally, was something I didn’t love. If I just gave a blanket “I loved it all” statement it wouldn’t be a very thoughtful review.
On Friday, we’ll begin another one of our Vampire Diaries Giveaways by giving away a copy of this book!