The Divide by L.J. Smith
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Growing up, my favorite writers were L.J. Smith, Christopher Pike and R.L. Stine. Three years ago I reread all of my Christopher Pike books. Last year I reread all of my L.J. Smith books and I’ve been anxiously awaiting Strange Fate the conclusion to her Night World series. I had read on the author’s site that Alloy/Harper Teen had taken the rights to her Vampire Diaries series away from her – based on a contract she signed 20 years ago when she was young and didn’t know any better. The publisher is now using a ghost-writer to write the Vampire Diaries books, and L.J. has no input or control over the way her creation now unfolds. Because of this, I had decided not to read any of the Vampire Diary books written by the ghost-writer.
A few days ago, I borrowed The Divide from the e-library to read on my kindle. I was excited that there was a new book in the Secret Circle series and couldn’t wait to start reading it. I couldn’t wait to see what new challenges the circle would face – what problems Faye would create – how Diana was taking the whole Adam and Cassie thing. I was barely 22% into the eBook before noticing a lot of problems and inconsistencies – and then discovered that these new Secret Circle books are all a ghost writer too. She just doesn’t have the same … well anything… that L.J. Smith does, and the books remind me more of the TV show than the original books. For starters, Cassie’s character is off – and it’s more than just having Black John’s blood inside of her. I can’t quite put my finger on exactly what it is – but she is different somehow.
The Diana in the first three books was described as a perfect girl, a perfect friend, never mean to anyone, forgiving, loving, the first to give you the shirt off her back. In the first book, she is the first one to welcome Cassie (at the time an outsider) to their town and defend her from Faye. Diana never has a mean thing to say about anyone – even her slightly evil cousin, Faye. In The Divide, Diana is a condescending mean girl that is blatantly rude to the new girl in town. Diana is insecure and at times petty or cold. It seems like she sometimes takes a page out of Faye’s book. At one point in the book Cassie even thinks to herself that Diana is always cold, rude and unwelcoming to newcomers. I’m sorry, but this is not the warm, welcoming, kind-hearted Diana that we all know and love.
Another difference is that in this new book the circle is led by a triumvirate (Diana, Cassie, and Faye) and not Cassie, as I believe it is made out in the original books. Adam is also different. He isn’t the perfect guy that we all know and fell in love with in the original series. He puts the circle before Cassie time and again – and the couple seems more into making out than actually being soul mates. I see more passion between Cassie and Nick than I do with Cassie and Adam and I wouldn’t be surprised if the ghost writer tears Adam and Cassie apart and puts her back with Nick again in one of the next books.
Faye is also different in this book. More hateful in some ways, less in others. Her attitude in this book seems to be more malicious in this book than previous books. She still has the seem kind of attitude as before, but it just seems more evil now than slightly dark. Additionally, Faye resorts to something (which I won’t giveaway) that seems very un-Faye-like to me.
Finally, I am a little confused about Cassie’s relationship and feelings about her mother in this book. Yes, in the past Cassie was confused and unsure about some things. Cassie says some very hateful things about her mother in The Divide. Her feelings for her mother are a lot different than what I remember in the original series.
Personal feelings about the original series and L.J. Smith aside, I thought this ghost writer was just “ok.” I think she probably tried her best, but she just doesn’t have the same voice and insight into the characters that L.J. does and doesn’t love them the way L.J. does. Her writing style is ok. She tries to be like L.J. Smith but doesn’t quite make it. It seems as if she is pulling the book more into the direction of the television series than the actual books. The story was a fast read and very predictable.
I am disappointed in the new book – but it wasn’t terrible. It just wasn’t great either. I’m giving it three stars, and I’m probably being generous. I will most likely finish the rest of the series (when I get around to it) because once I start something, I almost always finish it. I just wish L.J. had written it.
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