Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Shadow Souls (The Vampire Diaries: The Return #2) by L. J. Smith

Shadow Souls (The Vampire Diaries: The Return, #2)SUMMARY (by the publisher): Elena must come to terms with her altered physical state. Even she can barely comprehend what she is now capable of.

Finding herself forced to travel to the Dark Dimension with Damon, Elena is secretly terrified of letting her long-disguised feelings for Damon run wild. For if Damon does lure her into becoming his dark princess, her new power might not be used for good.

MY OPINION:

It is amazing how L. J Smith manages to unravel the plotline in this series in the way that surprises the reader again and again. Even though I thought I knew what to expect from this book, it proved to be a thoroughly unforeseeable and thrilling read.

The writing is much improved in comparison to Nightfall, although there is still some room for further improvement. However, the writing is solid and takes the reader unobtrusively on a journey through an amazing story.

Smith is a master of settings. The Dark Dimension is depicted with such skill and in so much detail as to pull the reader easily into it. It is a world of terrible beauty: sinister and gruesome, yet full of its own kind of grace and splendour. The magical and paranormal happenings are astonishing, but believably incorporated into the plot.

It is hard to say anything more specific about the plot and the characters without giving away spoilers. Therefore, I will just say that the story is what the reader familiar with the series would expect, that is: unpredictable. The characters evolve partially in an anticipated manner, however, they make a lot of discoveries about themselves as well as about each other.

There are some things I would like to say that may be potential SPOILERS, so if you do not mind spoilers  and want to read it anyway, highlight the text.

First of all, Stefan, despite being passive because of his captivity, is the driving force behind everybody’s actions, including, although a little surprisingly so, Damon’s. However, I am not completely convinced about the strength of the relationship between Stefan and Elena, mainly because it seems all too perfect, too easy. I think the problem is that throughout the series the development of their relationship is not very well founded – it just simply is. I have the same feeling about Stefan as a character, he is simply too good, too perfect – he shows some nuances, but there is still a feeling of something missing which makes Stefan a bit of a flat character.

On the other hand, Shadow Souls really concentrates on researching Damon’s character. Of all the new things revealed about him, what is most touching to me is his deep hidden wish to redeem himself. The way he finally does that is very emotional, and I was completely overwhelmed by it.

The same goes for Elena. Her personality is well explored, and she has to learn a lot, not only about her new supernatural side, but also about her human side. She, along with the reader, discovers a whole different Elena, while still retaining her familiar side. The extent of her willing to sacrifice herself for the well-being of others is admirable and adds the final touch to the series.

Shinichi is still messing with Fell’s Church and with Damon’s memory, which teaches a lesson as old as the world – the bad guy always lies. Throughout the book I kept wishing someone to finally kick his sorry behind. But that is more or less left for Midnight.

Another lesson worth remembering is: curiosity killed the cat. Though it does not kill Damon, he certainly wishes he would control his inquisitiveness better. I had known about this development before reading the book, however, it still surprised me, and I cannot wait to see how Damon is dealing with the consequences in the following book.

END OF SPOILERS

The ending is brilliant – logical and incredible at the same time, and it makes me want to go straight for the next book to see how it all continues. As usually, it is a balanced combination of closing one door and cracking open another to make the reader want more than just a peek.

RECOMMENDATION: Apart for a few writing mishaps, Shadow Souls is an amazing book. I think it to be the best of the series so far, and it is a must-read for the fans of the series.

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