Friday, October 10, 2014

Series Review: THE SECRET CIRCLE by LJ Smith

Series title: The Secret Circle
Book titles: 
1. The Initiation
2. The Captive
3. The Power
Author: L.J. Smith


Forced to move from sunny California to gloomy New England, Cassie longs for her old life. Even so, she feels a strange kinship to a terrifying group of teens who seem to rule her school. Initiated into the coven of witches that's controlled New Salem for hundreds of years, she's drawn into the Secret Circle, a thrill that's both intoxicating and deadly. But when she falls for the mysterious and intriguing Adam, Cassie must choose whether to resist temptation or risk dark forces to get what she wants--even if it means that one wrong move could ultimately destroy her. 

Why I read it: This series was adapted into a TV show a few years ago by the CW, which is also home to The Vampire Diaries, another LJ Smith adaptation series. Unfortunately, the show didn't do as well as hoped, and it was cancelled after one season. Last year, I decided to watch that season on Netflix an absolutely fell in love with it. So when I realized that the season ended on a cliffhanger, I decided to read the books to find out what happens. 

Thoughts: The books are COMPLETELY different from the show. The changes pretty much happen from page one, so I still don't know what would have happened on the show. 

What a shame that is, because the story the show was telling was MUCH more compelling than the one LJ Smith told. And almost the entire main plot of these THREE books made it into the first season of the show. Which means that the show had SO MUCH POTENTIAL for the future. I am so sad it's over. 

I know that LJ Smith has a lot (A LOT) of fans, especially of her Vampire Diaries series. But I can't say that I love her as an author. At all. 

The plot is super contrived, which isn't always a bad thing. After all, the main premise is the same in the books and the show, and the show totally makes it work. First, we have the "special and she didn't know it" trope. Cassie is a witch, but she has never known about her heritage. Then we have the "love at first sight" AND the "true love/soulmates" trope. Cassie and Adam feel a strange connection to each other the very first time they meet, and the second time they see each other, Cassie tells him that she loves him. *eye roll*

Almost all of the characters are extremely one-dimensional, and play into stereotypes perfectly. We have Cassie, the Mary Sue. Then we have Adam, the perfect love interest. Diana, the purely good girl. Faye, the bad girl. And Nick, the bad boy with a heart of gold. Of all these characters, Nick is the one who intrigued me the most. He's the only one who shows any real growth, and he was totally swoonworthy to boot. 

The writing is so wooden. At the bottom of one page, two characters do the exact same thing, one line after another. Something about a smirk or a grin, but Smith uses the exact same phrase for both actions. And if I have to read another line about Faye's "honey-colored eyes" or Diana's "hair that is the color of moonlight," I may puke. 

Wow. This review is making it seem like I really hated the books. I promise, I didn't hate them. Yes, the three main aspects of a book that usually make me like it (plot, character and writing) are lacking, but I still almost liked them. It was a fun idea, even if the plot was predictable, and I had fun comparing it to the TV show. 

In the end, I'm glad I read the books. And if I hadn't loved the TV show so much, I might have liked the books a little better. 

Rating: 2.5 stars out of 5

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