I was going to post this review tomorrow night *after* meeting Richelle Mead but I couldn’t wait I’m afraid! So here it is...
Having just read Evernight (by Claudia Gray) and Vampire Diaries (by L.J.Smith) I really didn’t think I was going to enjoy Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead. I thought it was going to be just another high school, vampire thing – humans vs. vampires - but I’m happy to report that I WAS WRONG. VERY WRONG.
In the world of Vampire Academy, there are Moroi, Strigoi and Dhampirs. At first I thought this was going to be complicated to understand but Richelle’s explanations are clear and before you know it, it all sounds completely normal. The Moroi are born mortal vampires with a magical connection to the elements. The Strigoi are immortal vampires who have been ‘created’ and have a questionable sense of morality. Dhampirs are half human, half Moroi and they exist to guard the Moroi from the Strigoi. Still with me? I bet you’re wondering why they can’t all live together in peace and harmony right? Let me explain... The Strigoi will kill and feed off anything but its Moroi blood they want the most as it makes them stronger and harder to destroy. This is why the Moroi need protecting as their numbers are diminishing fast.
Rose is the Dhampir/best friend of Lissa, a Moroi princess. They both attend St. Vladimir’s Academy where Rose is a guardian in training for the role she will play for the rest of her life, protecting Lissa. Lissa learns about magic and is waiting to discover which one of the elements she will specialise in.
When I first started reading the book, there was a definite lesbian vibe but this soon passed when I realised that Rose only enjoyed being bitten by Lissa because of the rush of endorphins she got from the bite itself. It wasn’t sexual for Rose and Lissa, it was a matter of survival with an added bonus of “getting high” for Rose. As the book developed, I started thinking of their relationship as two best friends as opposed to friends with lesbian tendencies. They just happen to share a psychic bond which is rare between the Moroi and their guardians. Rose can “feel” what Lissa is feeling and occasionally get inside her head, seeing the world through Lissa’s eyes although Rose cannot control when and where this will happen.
Within the first several chapters, there had already been a small selection of choice, swear words, emitted by Rose, the book’s protagonist. It was then that I knew that “this aint no kids book”. I swore at her age and I liked the fact that she did too. She’s definitely not the typical high school teen queen, that’s for sure! I loved her girl power attitude, her strength in being able to look after both herself and her charge Lissa. She’s certainly not a damsel in distress either and possibly *THE* best friend anyone could have. Especially when your life depends on it! I picture either Michelle Rodriguez or Angelina Jolie when I think of Rose. Yes ok, both of those actresses are a little older than 17 but their ‘tough girl attitude’ mirrors that of Rose. Besides that, Rose is beautiful as well as tough which means she has to look good in a little black dress and killer heels!
It’s easy to be sucked into the world of Vampire Academy (no pun intended) and I liked the dark, gritty, edginess of the book which is unlike any other book I’ve read recently. I suddenly realise what I’ve been missing out on and WHY it is a NYT bestseller. DOH!
Characterisation was really good. Although Rose was the main protagonist, I felt like she and Lissa shared the spotlight equally. I loved the contrast between Rose’s tough exterior and sense of duty as opposed to Lissa’s vulnerability which really came out through the writing. Their ‘best friend’ relationship was clearly evident throughout the book and made me feel a bit envious to be honest. *note to self – make more girl friends*
Dimitri was also an interesting character. He is the tall, dark, handsome, Russian, SUPER guardian assigned to train Rose and share the protection of Lissa. Although it wasn’t the main story line, I loved the slow burn of Rose and Dimitri’s developing relationship, which wasn’t rushed or forced. There is a strong sense of forbidden love which for me, makes it that much more enticing.
If you look carefully, you will see a sense of morality and learning of life lessons in the book too. Lissa was at one point part of the in crowd and was truly miserable as she couldn’t be herself. When she started talking to the people she liked and hanging out with the GUY she liked, regardless of his background or reputation, THAT’S when she was truly happy.
I usually have a real problem with the endings of books and movies; either they are incredibly predictable and I guess the ending or it gets left wide open, leaving me feeling frustrated and with no sense of closure. What I liked about this book was that a lot of things were wrapped up towards the end which left me with a degree of satisfaction. The last page though suggested an idea for the next book which I’m sure will materialise (the next book is of course already out but I haven’t read it....YET).
Overall, I thought it was a great read and definitely worth investing in the rest of the series. I feel like I have no choice now of course, as I’m hooked! Thankfully I already have the next two books in the series and am planning on getting the other two books as soon as possible. The sixth book is as of yet untitled and unpublished.
Richelle has her own website (http://www.richellemead.com/) and she can also be found on Twitter and facebook.