This is one of those books that stick with you long after you've read it. I first picked up the Vampire Diaries 15 years ago when it was first published. Needless to say, because I'm writing a review here, I still adore the books. The novel is beautifully written, with characters I genuinely care about. Sure, my opinion of the characters have changed over time, mainly my impressions of Stefan and Elena... but they're still friends I enjoy visiting . I've reread this series a number of times. In a nutshell, its about finding love and acceptance despite outward appearance. A lot of this book is based on friendship and societal roles. It's a lot like Romeo and Juliet, had Romeo not died, but lived on, waiting to be whole again, never forgiving himself for the mistakes of the past. I like this story because the characters are so multi-dimensional, the world lush and exotic. EXCELLENT book. Don't skip it!
My main concern will be people who see parallels to the Buffy the Vampire Slayer universe. This one came first, and in my opinion, is better.