When handsome and elusive Stefan Salvatore arrives in the small town of Fell's Church, everyone takes notice--even blonde Queen Bee Elena Gilbert. Elena can't help but be drawn to the quiet stranger in her European History class. Fortunately for Elena, the attraction is mutual. Unfortunately for Stefan, he isn't the only Salvatore brother fascinated by the beautiful Elena and the town's initial fascination has quickly turned to suspicion after a string of people are attacked soon after his arrival.
A quick warning to the devoted fans of the TV show: the books are VERY different from the show. The first time I attempted to read this book it was hard to get into the story because it was such a departure from the series (ex. Elena is blonde, Bonnie is a redhead, Caroline is a brunette, and that's just the tip of the iceberg!). The second time around I started reading knowing that it would be very different and it was a much more enjoyable experience. The writing is very similar to L.J. Smith's other works--it's quick and fast-paced read. This is a book that someone could easily finish in a day or two. The writing is geared toward a very young audience (perfect for late elementary or early junior high) and for that reason, it can feel a bit patronizing as an adult reading it.
The edition that I read is the one pictured above and it has the first two novels in the Vampire Diaries series conveniently and compactly packaged together into one. Out of the two stories I preferred the first one which is entitled The Awakening. The story chronicles the very beginning of Stefan and Elena's relationship. It also talks about how Stefan and Damon became vampires in the first place (if you think you know all the details, you don't). The second story, The Struggle, was considerably less focused than the first. It lacked enough material to stand as a novel on it's own and in retrospect it became very obvious that its main purpose was to serve as a transition between book one and book three.
Compared to the show, the book series worked at a much quicker pace. Things that have just happened at the beginning of the fourth season happened at the end of book two. Also, the first two books tend to focus almost entirely on Elena and her feelings for Stefan (and eventually Damon) while the show has more time to look at the stories of supporting characters like Caroline and Bonnie and Tyler. Although the book is almost always better than the film/television adaption, this is not the case in this situation. The television show takes everything great and fascinating about the book series and, with a little help from a fantastic writing team, creates an action-packed hour of entertainment each week with a more developed plot and more fleshed out characters. It also doesn't hurt that there are some very attractive men on the show as well.
In conclusion, the first two books of the Vampire Diaries series are both fun, quick reads. The TV show hasn't stayed entirely faithful to the books from which it is based--and, quite frankly, that's a good thing. Other than Stefan, none of the characters are well developed and the story seems to run out of gas halfway through the second novel. It is a light and easy read but if you want an entertaining story about vampires, witches, and werewolves tune into The Vampires Diaries on the CW.