Where to begin? Okay, let's start with the leading lady, Elena. Shallow and vapid by nature, she's the most beautiful girl in school with men falling at her feet and a gaggle of equally vapid-sounding yes-friends. Halfway through the book she gets voted in as Homecoming Queen - a huge risk on the part of the author as the Homecoming/Prom queen is rarely the kind of character a reader can really get behind. And then Elena commits the most heinous crime of all: instalove. It's not even the traditional hits-you-like-a-bolt-of-lightening instalove - the only reason she decides she wants Stefan is because he doesn't want her. Seriously?
Spoiler Alert - Gotta say, at first I thought Elena was going to be some throwaway character who we *think* is going to be the main character, only for her to get eaten at the end of the first chapter when the attention shifts to the *real* main character. Sadly, she doesn't die. In fact I skipped ahead to episode twelve of this series (I know! Twelve!) and she's still bloody alive!
The love interest, Stefan, is like a cardboard cut-out vampire. Good-looking? Tick. Tortured? Tick. Flash car? Tick. Loads of money? Tick. Believes he's damned to hell for all eternity? Tick. Just couldn't see the attraction. He falls in love with Elena at first sight, not because she's beautiful in her own right, but because she looks like a dead girl he used to love, thus earning him the nickname Creepy McCreeperson.
His brother, Damon, is moderately more interesting and has some amusing lines, but nothing good enough to airlift this book out of Dullsville.
The style of writing is a bit limp and the plot meanders around without actually reaching any proper conclusions. Plot threads are left unresolved (Why does Elena's friend suddenly turn against her over the summer? Is Bonnie really a psychic, or just a ditz?), perhaps to be cleared up in a later book, but I think it's safe to say I won't be reading that far.
I've read a few vampire romances over the years, but this one felt too much like Sweet Valley High for me to enjoy.