Wednesday, February 26, 2014
The Vampire Academy Legacy Begins
Vampire Academy movie trailer, I'd never heard of the premise, the book series or Richelle Mead. Although I love to read young adult books, even at the age of 36, I don't get as much exposure to the young adult book scene as I'd like to at times. This is probably why I was a bit behind the proverbial bandwagon with the 2007 Vampire Academy Series debut.
After reading the premise on goodreads, I was still hesitant to take the plunge and buy the first book. The Kindle version was $9.99 on Amazon, but I wasn't sure if I wanted to spend that kind of money on a book again after what I call: The Twilight Debacle.
The Twilight Debacle: Don't get me wrong - I know Twilight is a franchise for a reason. And since vampires are the only supernatural/fantasy type of characters I enjoy, I decided to give it a chance. Bad decision! Not only was the first book (or at least the first 30 pages I actually tried to read) immaturely written, the lead character of Bella did not appeal to me. I don't like completely helpless female characters dependent on a man to carry them through life. Just doesn't do it for me, so I prompted sold the book to Half Price books, then quit reading vampire books . . . until . . .
The daily email I receive from The eReader Cafe, which sends me a list of Amazon's daily e-book FREEBIES and BARGAINS, sent me an offer a week ago to get Vampire Academy for $2.99. For $2.99, I couldn't resist the lure of the vampire anymore and took the plunge. I was soon living in St. Vladmir's Vampire Academy, and boy would it be a wild ride.
Rose and Lissa share an unusual bond. Rose cannot only hear Lissa's thoughts, but she can also see Lissa's surroundings by looking through her friend's eyes. Did I mention that Lissa is a vampire? A royal vampire. And Rose? She's a dhampir, a hybrid of Moroi, training to be Lissa's Guardian or bodyguard after high school graduation.
Rose and Lissa have been on the run from their vampire boarding school, St Vladmir's Academy, for two years, hiding among the human race. Amidst threats to Lissa's life, gutsy Rose, not knowing who to trust, broke Lissa out of boarding school to keep her friend safe from unknown enemies. For two years, their plan has worked - that is until the day Guardian Dimitri Belikov (a dhampir) arrives on the scene. Dimitri has come to take Rose and Lissa back to school but not without an epic fight between the two dhampirs.
Back at the Academy, Rose's punishment for running away is to spend every waking moment outside class training with Guardian Belikov. She's missed two years of important Guardian study and needs to catch up with the rest of the novices so she can graduate. Rose bucks at this training, impatient to learn how to use the Guardian stake, the weapon used to kill the undead vampires, the Strigoi. Strigoi have no souls, feed on the living, and can turn mortal Moroi, dhampirs and humans into Strigoi. They are the Moroi race's biggest predator and the dhampir's biggest challenger.
Lissa's homecoming isn't easy either. While Rose is used to being an outcast at school, Lissa was once a popular member of the Academy. Upon her return, her old friends shun her, leaving her depressed and alone. She begins using magic called Compulsion to make people like her again - magic that's forbidden to use.
This first book is less about plot and more about meeting the carefully constructed characters Mead created. Rose is 3-dimensional through and through. She acts before she thinks. Rose knows no fear. Through her bond, we do see her softer side - always concerned about Lissa's feelings and hardships than concerned about her own. Although Rose can be bratty and immature at times, overall it's nice to read about such a strong female heroine for a change.
Lissa is a bit more wish-washy. Most Moroi are helpless, dependent upon Guardians to protect them. Sometimes, though, it would've been nice to see Lissa whine a bit less.
For those of you interested in romance, you will definitely find it in this book. Lissa finds solace in Christian Ozera another royal Moroi who is shunned because his parents purposely turned Strigoi. And you didn't think I was going to forget to mention Rose and Dimitri Belikov, did you? They are clearly Mead's choice of power couple, although their feelings must be kept under the radar at school due to their age difference and their teacher-student relationship. Nothing overt happens. Rose pushes the subject in her immature 17-year-old way, while the older Dimitri is able to keep himself in check and focus on his Guardian duties. But don't count them out yet. I'm betting the Rose/Dimitri love will work it's way through the rest of the series.
I enjoyed this book, overall. My only criticisms is that it seemed like it was written by a writing newbie. The facts were well researched and the society laid out, but more depth was wanting. I also felt that Dimitri's character was written 2-dimensionally. Rose is a dynamic character, and at times, it was hard to see what Rose found so attractive about Dimitri other than his good looks.
Total rating: 50 pts for reading + 35 pts = 85% = 3 1/2 Stars
Writing Style: 5/10
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: "Richelle's books have been on the New York Times and USA Today bestseller lists and received honors from the American Library Association. Her books have been translated into over two dozen languages, as well as transformed into graphic novels. A lifelong reader, Richelle loves mythology and wacky humor. When not writing, she can be found spending time with her family, buying dresses, and watching bad reality TV. More at: www.richellemead.com.