First off I need to say a massive thank you to Hachette Children's Books for accepting my request to read and review this title on NetGalley, and to NetGalley for the service that they provide.
'The Originals: The Rise' is the first book in a trilogy, telling us the untold story of the Mikaelson family, who feature heavily in 'The Vampire Diaries' and are the main characters in the spin-off series, 'The Originals'. If you haven't watched 'The Vampire Diaries' or 'The Originals', this is not a book for you, so you should probably go and watch those now, instead of reading this review or this book. The only reason I strongly discourage you from reading this book with no prior knowledge is because this book assumes you know what is going on, meaning that if you don't there is no explanation behind any of the magical properties of the vampires.
For example, in this universe vampires have the power of compulsion, in which they can force humans to bend to their will using magical mind-bending techniques. This is referred to heavily throughout, despite the fact that it's only used a couple of times. Similarly, the plant vervain, which is poisonous to vampires and instantly burns them, is talked about, but again not properly described. Because I've watched the shows, it didn't detract from my enjoyment of the book, but if I hadn't I can imagine that it would have become a bit of an issue. It's the only real negative I have to say about this book, because you shouldn't assume that the readers have already watched the shows, but the majority of people picking this up will have, so it's not that big of a deal.
If you have watched the programmes, you will know that the Mikaelson family comprise of five siblings; Klaus, Elijah, Rebekah, Kol and Finn. Kol and Finn do not feature in this novel, so it focuses completely upon the other three Original vampires, and the lives that they lived when they first came to America, landing in New Orleans all the way back in 1713. Because we are following all three characters, we get alternate chapters following each of their stories.
Klaus is falling deeply in love with Vivianne, a woman who is half witch, half werewolf and one hundred percent engaged. Rebekah is attempting to coerce the French army into fighting on the side of the vampires, while placing herself in danger from their Captain, a vampire hunter. Elijah is just trying to make everyone get along, finding a home for his family and persuading a witch to place a protection spell on the property, because he really doesn't think that he can make everyone get along.
Out of the three siblings I definitely enjoyed the chapters from Klaus the most. His personality from the TV show was utterly palpable, and it was the most well-written and characterised of the three siblings, insofar that while I was reading it I could hear everything he said in his charming and persuasive accent. Despite the fact that his feelings for Vivianne were super predictable, because of his predilection for wanting people he can't have, I thought his attitude towards her was quite endearing, showing a side to Klaus that hadn't really been explored before. However, the fact that it was insta-love as soon as he saw her didn't seem quite realistic with the Klaus that we've already seen, so it would have been interesting if he had been using her for his own gain at the beginning, with his feelings developing slowly throughout.
Rebekah's chapters were also quite interesting, with her developing feelings for the vampire hunting Captain, but because of her penchant for falling in love with men that were bad for her, it wasn't the most interesting of the stories. Whereas we haven't really seen Klaus head over heels in love before, we've seen Rebekah do that quite a few times, so it just seemed to drag on my nerves a little bit. She should be a really strong female character, but there was only a couple of scenes where she displayed her true bad-ass nature, so it would be good for her to toughen up during the sequels.
Worst of all was Elijah. I know he's the eternal peace keeper, but all of his chapters were so mundane and boring, I really did feel the urge to skip through them. I hope in the other two books in the series his personality develops further, and he actually gets his own romance plot line like his siblings, because at this rate he's a completely neutral and - quite frankly - pointless character.
Overall, if you like the TV show I'm sure you'll like the novels, because the characters are the same and there's still the balance between the fighting and the sexual moments, but I really hope that the series picks up as it goes along, because at the moment I'm feeling quite unconvinced with the need for these adaptations, and I definitely enjoy the show a lot more.