This, in my opinion, is what teen/young adult paranormal romance is supposed to be. L. J. Smith (Vampire Diaries) wrote these books about ten years agThis, in my opinion, is what teen/young adult paranormal romance is supposed to be. L. J. Smith (Vampire Diaries) wrote these books about ten years ago and it shows. The reason they're collected in omnibus format is that they're short: when they were first published, the books were small paperbacks that came in at under 250 pages. I personally would have preferred that to this clunky book, but after years where the books were out of print and impossible to get my hands on, I'll take what I can get.
I'm not going to try and dress it up: these are quick reads. I find the characters and their lives interesting, but the plots are pretty straightforward - especially in these early volumes. As the series progresses, more thematic elements present themselves, culminating in a four part finale. But for now: we've got episodic stories about vampires, werewolves and witches. The stories all center on 'forbidden' relationships that the members of the Night World have with humans and the consequences of these forbidden unions.
They aren't steamy reads by any means. We're talking about books that first came out long before the Gossip Girl era: ratings wise, you're not going to see anything steamier than a PG-13. What you WILL find, though, is a well established universe where the guidelines are spelled out for you right from the title page:
"The Night World isn't a place. It's all around us. It's a secret society of vampires, werewolves, witches, and other creatures of darkness that live among us. [...] There are only two things [those in the Night World] can't do with [humans].
1) Never let them find out the Night World exists. 2) Never fall in love with one of them.
These are stories about what happens when the rules get broken"
Bam: that's really all you need to get into the story. Of course, each story will break it down for you, and Smith is able to feed us exposition in ways that remain interesting even three books in - perhaps because there's a lot to play with in her universe. The premise of three supernatural groups co-existing with humans is simple enough to be digested, but there are enough intricacies and details to keep things interesting as time wears on. In addition to the rules of Night World society (and traditions of each of the groups) you get ideas like Soulmates: two people who are destined to be together - the stuff that makes my inner thirteen-year-old girl squee with delight to read. Cheesy? Yes. But it's fun.
I could be biased because I loved these books when I was younger - I have yet to actually read all of Twilight, though I can see why there are comparisons being drawn between Stephenie Meyer and L. J. Smith. Personally, I'm glad Twilight's success has made publishers feel like they can take a chance with some of these books again. But that's beside the point.
My point is: I can't accurately compare the two series to tell you which is better. I can tell you that if you're looking for varied stories that are quick to read (we're talking an afternoon, judging on how most of my friends read) with interesting characters, you'll find it here. If you prefer your stories with lots of extra adjectives and filler, I recommend Twilight....more