Friday, December 2, 2011

Secret Circle Book 1 Review

(I'm going to be talking about the first Secret Circle book and the tv show. Tread accordingly.)

After watching the Secret Circle tv series I spent a bit of time digging up the trilogy of books by L. J. Smith the series is based on and recently finished the first book.


First off get ready to get our world rocked if you ever read those books because A LOT of stuff was changed.

As I said before Melissa is not in the books but after reading Book 1 I can see that she appears to be an attempt at trying to make an amalgamation of some of the other girls in the circle (I'll get to that in a bit). You see in the books Faye has two minions that are pretty much that. Bad attitude girls that hang on Faye's every whim. However Diana also has two girls that kinda latch onto her as well. It seems that Melissa is an attempt to give Faye a lackey while at the same time making her somewhat on good terms with Diana (which may be on the way to being sour according to the last episode before the winter break). And I think that this may have something to do with why Melissa is such a blank slate character.

About the only storyline she's had so far is she was Nick's fuck buddy (more on that in a bit), she was possessed by a demon, and just before the break she appears to be heading for a showdown with Diana over her cousin (finally a man of color that's not just there to give some info and then die in a display of someone's power). Diana and Adam broke up on the show and Melissa is worried that her cousin will become Diana's rebound guy. Not a whole lot as you can see. But her being an amalgamation doesn't explain it all.

As far as I can tell so far there is only one person of color so far in the books and that's Sally. Yes the Sally that was tossed over the balcony early in the show is a girl of color (which BTW in the book the balcony is a hill and while Faye does push her Cassie saves her from actually taking what would have been a fatal fall). In the books we find out she's descended from the West Indies to be exact.

So yeah almost shut out on the character of color font.

GLBT shut out so far as well.

As for gender its pretty unexpected I admit. In the circle the girls seem to be divided between Diana and her two friends and Faye and her two friends with Cassie in the middle. The conflict between Diana and Faye (who are cousins BTW) is one of the central points. A power struggle between two girls that doesn't center around a boy (well sort of but its not the main point of contention), you don't see that very often. The guys in the circle, who seem to be kept in check by Adam seem to be more subdued and don't take much center spotlight, except for Adam but mind you he doesn't make a formal appearance until late in the first book.

Now onto what's different.

Diana - First off in the books she blond and her character is portrayed as way more angelic like than in the show. In fact the cover art of the first book that I have actually has her wearing a robe that looks like something straight out of the Greek Pantheon. At school she, and the circle as a whole, seem to inspire quite a bit of admiration from the rest of the student body. Well most of the student body. And like her tv show counterpart he father seems to be the one parent that's still alive, but he never appears as he is always off "working at his law firm".

Faye - This girl was toned down for the show. Early on in the book she lures Cassie to a secluded spot in an attempt scare and harass her. Unlike the suspicion she hold Cassie when first meeting Faye actually comes with outright hostility. Also she seems to have no problem sexually harassing boys. As for the circle she doesn't just want the the circle to not be bound for the sake of keeping her individual power. Its more like she's willing to let the circle remain unbound because she despises Cassie so much, that and she also wants to take over leadership of the circle from Diana. By the end of the first book (especially with the bind she puts Cassie in) Faye goes beyond mean, passed jerk, and could very well become a villain later on.

Adam - As with the show Adam is dating Diana and as I said above he seemed to have a bit of a reign on the guys in the circle. However different from the emo brooder vibe he gives off (and I can't help but seem some Angel in him, mmmmmmmm....Angel) in the book he is actually a red head that is pretty straight forward and seems to be the take no shit from nobody type.

Nick - First off you know how Nick treats Melissa in the show? Used her for a fuck buddy and the closest thing to an act of merit he performed before being killed was try to push her away? Erase that shit none of that happens. And I don't mean he didn't do that to Melissa because she's not in the books. No he didn't treat any of the 7 girls in the circle in that manner. In the first book all he pretty much does is drink a beer, sit in silence, and have a quick but heated word exchange with Adam. That's it. I guess in exchange for turning down Faye's jerkishness they turned his on and then cranked it up. I guess the idea of a guy that looks like a rebel without a cause that doesn't engage in toxic masculinity is too much for people to fathom.

Cassie - Unlike the other four witches that are in both the book and show Cassie seems to be the most intact. When she first goes to her new high school a lot of time spent on her nervousness about moving. Her relationship with Diana seems to have been turned down a notch or two. Unlike the show where they are friends in the book is more like they become sisters (in fact Cassie even labels their friendship in just that manner, as if Diana were the big sister she always wanted).

Now aside from the five of them there is also a matter of the circle being 12 rather than 6. The five above, Melissa and:

Melanie and Laurel: Good natured girls that side with Diana in matters related to the circle.

Deborah and Suzan: Not so good natured girls that side with Faye in matter related to the circle.

Chris and Doug: A pair of mischievous twins that while they can usually be swayed to side with Faye don't appear to harbor any true ill will.

Sean: A pretty nervous guy that seems to only be there because he's got witch blood in him.

Not only the characters themselves were changed but some of the setting itself was altered. For instance in the book all the kids in the circle live on the same road. This is due to them all being descended from the original 12 founders of the town of New Salem. School life seems to be downplayed a bit. From the halls, to the classrooms, to even (or especially) the lunch room. At school they are collectively known as "The Club" and are actually the in crowd at school. Other kids look up to them, want to be them, want to be with them. This becomes evident when newcomer Cassie comes along and gets a cool reception at first but once she's joins the circle her popularity sky rockets.

So as you can see the books and the show are very different animals. But if you're willing to look past the -isms going (and I'm not saying you have to or should be expected) on then I think you're in for a real treat.

I'll be back after I finish book 2.


Alie said...

Good review of the first book. I find the show is kind of similar to the Vampire Diaries (and not just because Kevin Williamson is involved) in that it deviates away from the books in some ways to make it more applicable to today's audiences.

I'll be looking forward to your reviews for books 2 and 3.

Danny said...

Thank you for dropping by Alie.

I was afraid that I had gotten too caught up in the differences that I derailed into them instead of just a review.