Judy's Reviews > Shadow Souls

Shadow Souls by L.J. Smith
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Aug 09, 2010

did not like it
bookshelves: read-in-2010, ya, fantasy, terrible

I hesitate in posting this review because I am, and always will be, a fan of L.J. Smith. She was one of the reasons I started reading Young Adult fantasy / horror in the first place and what inspired me to want to become a YA writer. I still remember going to the public library that day and turning those plastic book shelves that contain paper backs to browse through the spines of the books. I remember this gothic looking text (now looking back, are a little cheesy) and it saying “L.J. Smith, Night World, The Chosen”. This was in the days when Buffy was becoming popular. I read The Chosen and I was hooked. I started to collect her paperbacks from the library when they became discontinued, and would beg my mom to buy them when I saw them at a used bookstore. I loved Dark Visions, the Night World series, and enjoyed the rest of her stories as well. I loved her strong female characters, the witty dialogue, the action packed stories, and how her characters always fell down, learned, grew and became better. The romance in the story was wonderful as well. I still have those old paperbacks that are now taped down because the covers are coming off. I bought the omnibuses when they came out for the reprint in the preparation for L.J. Smith’s return from her long hiatus. I was excited and completely ready to devour Strange Fate, the final book of the Night World series when we could finally figure what happened to all of those beloved characters that I read about again and again for the past ten years.

The reason I hesitate in posting this review is because my review will not be a positive one. As a testament to what a wonderful writer she was, I would still whole heartedly recommend her books to everyone who wants to read great YA horror / fantasy. I do not want to deter future readers from reading her books by posting reviews that may not be flattering, but I feel that I should be honest in reviewing. I think it is important as someone working on my own stories that I read each book critically and reflectively, so that I can learn from the experience.

I read “Nightfall”, the continuation of the “Vampire Diaries” series and was disappointed. There were glimpses here and there of familiarity, some sharp dialogue or frightening scene that reminded me of the old books. There were times when the characters even breathed a little and came to life, but then settled back down to just words on a page.

I picked up “Shadow Souls” with hope still remaining eternal that perhaps after getting some feedback from “Nightfall” that the author, agent or editor will be committed to putting out a better book. I know that some reviews state that “Shadow Souls” is an improvement over “Nightfall”, but I may be more forgiving for a debut author who is setting out to create a new setting and a new world. However, she is revisiting her own characters and her own universe that she established before. She tossed characterization and world building to the wind as she continued in this trilogy.

First off, the sheer unnecessary length of it. There were entire scenes that could be snipped without any effect on the plot. There were descriptions of dresses and ballrooms and setting that went on for pages. The reason her old books were so good was because of how compact they were. Each scene was necessary in moving the plot along or developing a character.

Second, the characters were unrecognizable. Elena was vain, selfish and frustrating. However, she was also loyal, determined and self-sacrificing. She was never perfect, but in “Shadow Souls”, she wallowed between the two brothers. She would remember Stefan and would elaborate on the extent of her love for him, but then she would forget about him when she was around Damon. Stefan’s angst was long and drawn out, elaborated on by Elena’s “nightly visits”. Damon is constantly moody and irritable, but obsessed with Elena.

Finally, creatures and legends and folklore were tossed around. They felt like puppets being used by L.J. Smith so that there would be constant obstacles in the way. Their threats were minimal because Elena, perfect Elena with her beauty and her grace and her new superpowers would save them all. The previous books were about team work and friendship and family and problem solving together. Now, it is Elena this and Elena that, so much that it is embarrassing how Mary Sue she has become. Like many reviewers online have mentioned, the new trilogy reads like someone writing fanfiction for the Vampire Diaries instead of the author herself.

After this and “Nightfall”, I have low expectations for the upcoming “Strange Fate”, which will finish off the Night World series. I may or may not attempt to read “Midnight”, just because I’ve invested too much time into this new trilogy. But I will probably skim the next tome instead of really enjoying the story.
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Comments (showing 1-6 of 6) (6 new)

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Sahra Don't worry about offending E.L James, I heard she didn't even write this. Something about conflict with the publishers who just employed a ghost writer.


Sahra Don't worry about offending E.L James, I heard she didn't even write this. Something about conflict with the publishers who just employed a ghost writer.


Amina L.J Smith, not E.L James.


Sahra Lol awks thanks


Sahra Lol awks thanks


Sahra Lol awks thanks


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