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Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead

You know how if you don't start a series it can never let you down? I'd been avoiding Richelle Mead's Vampire Academy books for that very reason. I kept reading encouraging reviews from reliable sources and just not following through on picking up the first book. Then the Cybils rolled around and Blood Promise, the fourth Vampire Academy book, was nominated. And since it's almost physically impossible for me to read a series out of order, I decided it was time to jump in. I'd managed to avoid knowing much of anything about the series, so it was quite fun to be immersed in a completely new world. This was also my first Richelle Mead book and I was interested to get a feel for her style.

Rose and her best friend Lissa are on the run. For two years they've been traveling from city to city, posing as college freshman. Rose is determined to fulfill her duty and protect Lissa at all cost from the danger pursuing them. Lissa is a vampire princess and Rose is a half-human, half-vampire guardian known as a dhampir. In their world, there are two kinds of vampires--the Moroi and the Strigoi. The Moroi are mortal vampires. They're the "good" kind. They only feed on willing donors and they have magical capabilities they develop and train at academies such as St. Vladimir's. The Strigoi, on the other hand, are immortal. They're the "bad" kind. They feed on who and what they will and they are impossibly fast and terrifyingly violent. With the Strigoi on their tail, half-trained Rose is forced to relent when a force of fully-trained dhampir show up to drag them back to St. Vlad's. Having burned her last bridge, Rose agrees to submit to one-on-one training with dhampir legend Dimitri Belikov in lieu of being kicked out for good.

I was immediately involved in this world Richelle Mead has created. Honestly, I've had a string of lame reads lately and have been seriously craving some solid world building, some characters to sink my teeth into. And on the world building front, Vampire Academy comes through. It starts right in the middle of the action and doesn't let up. The notion of good and bad vampires is not a new one, but Mead makes it her own by crafting the long history of opposition and war between the gifted Moroi and the damned Strigoi. And then there are the dhampir--the guardians of the Moroi. Neither human nor vampire, the dhampir straddle both worlds and were easily my favorite aspect of the story. I enjoyed Rose's resistance against conforming to expectations. I enjoyed her sparring lessons with tall, dark, and massive Dimitri. And I enjoyed the politics that come into play between the three different classes of creature. The character development didn't feel as strong, unfortunately. I could have done with a little more depth to Rose, a little walk to match her talk if you will. She's appreciatively smart-mouth and full of vituperative angst but it began to wear on me after awhile as I wished she would think a bit before acting on her assumptions or whims. I liked Dimitri all right and I particularly liked Christian--the outcast Moroi royalty who makes it his mission to give Lissa a hard time. I wanted more from them. Still, I liked it enough to pick up the next installment in the series. More to come on that soon.

Comments

  1. Great review! I loved VA, and I actually really liked the characters. I just finished reading Frostbite, the second in the series, and I loved it more than VA - I think of it as Rose's story, and you get a lot deeper into the way she thinks. It was awesome! Hope you enjoy it!

    Thanks for linking to my review! :) I'll link to yours from mine.

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  2. I am obsess with this series. I finish readin them a week and a half ago. I did an all nightet one book a day/night. Rose's carzy personality draws me to read them. I will tune in to the rest of your reviews about this. Enjoy :)

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  3. This series is soooooooooo good. Much MUCH better written than Twilight:)

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  4. Great Review!:) I can't wait for the fifth one, Spirit Bound to be out!

    http://fantasysink.blogspot.com/

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  5. I have been avoiding this series too. The first three chapters or so just didn't grab me because I didn't warm to Rose. Maybe I'll try again one day. Everyone seems to love this series so much!

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  6. I was so-so on the series based off the first book, but the second book hooked me. That's when I really began to care. I also LOVE LOVE LOVE Richelle Mead's adult Succubus (Georgina Kincaid) series.

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  7. This is a really good series. I haven't read Blood Promise yet, I am not into YA right now. I too love the Georgina Kincaid series. Ms. Mead is one of my favorite authors. I love her humor and her world building. I also love that she isn't afraid to have her characters go through some crap to get their happy ending.

    At least they better get a happy ending! :o)

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  8. I've enjoyed this series overall. Rose's character has really started to grow on me. I like Dimitri as well as Christian. I'm excited to see what you think of the rest the series.

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  9. Jo, my pleasure. It's fun to read someone else's experiences who's going through a series at the same time. I'm through FROSTBITE and think I feel similarly to you.

    Peace, Love, & Pat, lol! I love that feeling of being obsessed with a series. Can't think about anything else...want to hang with those characters all the time...awesome.

    Laura, yeah, it's fun to be able to rely on the writing in that way. :)

    Maria, I'm hoping to finish #4 by the time that one rolls around.

    Rhiannon, that's how I felt as well. On the outside she's exactly the kind of heroine I love. But she gets a bit...whiny...and begins to rub me wrong after awhile. I'm giving her another book though. The world and writing deserve that.

    Donna, I'm interested in starting the Succubus series. I've heard excellent things about that as well and perhaps an older protag would help in this case.

    Tiah, that last bit is something I love as well. Bring on the pain!!! lol. But I'm hoping for that happy ending as well. I'm just not sure which parties I want to be involved as yet.

    Kath, I've been following your reviews and wanted to give the series a shot. I looove Christian. Wish we got a bit more into Lissa and what's going on in there.

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  10. I've been away from the blogosphere for a while and what do I come back to: teenage vampire novels?! *gasp* I've been curious about these books too, but been shying away from them because of the whole teenagers + vampires + high school formula--that and they're often read by fans of Twilight.

    I read an interview with the author in a feature on different vampire series, and she seemed very intelligent and in touch with the vampire "canon". I believe she said her world was the only one with a matriarchal vampire culture. Unfortunately for me, a solid world and good story don't always make up for poor characterization.

    Maybe, I'll give it a shot of over the break and check it out from the library.You know a great retro friday review would be on one of LJ Smith's Nightworld books--to me she was the original high school + vampires + teenagers writer, and I think she did an awesome job of it.

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  11. Almost bought this book at Books A Million last month maybe I should have.

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  12. I looove Christian. Wish we got a bit more into Lissa and what's going on in there.

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