Well, to be quite honest, I was editing TV Tropes, and this led me into the website while in search of a publication date, in service of averting as much "BUT THEY RIPPED OFF TWILIGHT!!" as possible. And that led me to the publisher's site where I was promised previews. And the previews did indeed net me an initial copyright date (1991). (My dears, I started keeping the ancestor of this journal in 1991.) And that resulted in me reading the first half of the first book, that being the length of the preview, and what a juicy and delightful morsel it was.
Thus, I am able to present to you:
Differences between the book and the show I have noticed so far:
Stefan is staying with a relative in the show; he is boarding with some old lady in the book.
Elena's parents died a few years ago (book) instead of last school year (show).
Bonnie, the psychic, is a redheaded white girl in the book; this character is played by a biracial actress in the show. (I am happy that what looked like a not particularly diverse cast in the book is being adjusted to fit modern standards; we are to hope things go well.)
The "omg you smell delicious to the vampire" is present in this book *well before* any better-known vampire books came out. Though I would imagine it is a common trope.
Elena seems a little less sure of herself in the show; in the book, she seems to be much more of a Queen Bee.
There is more Whedonesque dialogue in the show.
There was a near-kill that was Stefan's fault (book), rather than the two kills that were ambiguous (show).
The show jumps right into the action faster.
The football plot has not shown up in the show (so far).
The exact topic that Stefan used to humiliate the history teacher was different: in the show, he uses Civil War trivia (and has a history with the town); in the book, he is straight from Italy and is using Renaissance trivia. The teacher-is-a-jackass trope was clearer in the book, but the set-down was equally firm, although more blatant and was taken worse in the book.
The blood oath has not shown up in the show (yet?).
There was not enough of the book in the preview for me to compare the post-prom freakiness in the book and the wtf is that in the churchyard in the book to the party where the slutty girl stomps off into the woods and gets vampired.
And at the point when the slutty girl stomps off into the woods, fairlight and I did that thing where we look at each other and I can swear that we're thinking the same thing, which was "She's going to get raped, isn't she," except she got hit in the neck by a vampire, and we all four then did the "Well, at least she didn't get raped" thing, which led into bonus "You know, the state of the world and this trope is pretty bad when that's an 'at least', isn't it?"
And on the whole, I am really enjoying this show. It is the kind of fun entertainment so far that I can simultaneously genuinely enjoy and deconstruct for amusement purposes. One of the chief advantages to working in high schoolers (oh dear, I seem to be referring to the character type as a medium, oops) is that high schoolers can be absolutely vile and badly-behaved in a number of ways that adults never could or should get away with. Most of these high schoolers have been behaving themselves so far, for the most part. But it's interesting to think of the ways in which they could be vile and yet still have room to easily change and figure themselves out.