Books, Reviews, YA Fiction

Vampire Academy, by Richelle Mead

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3.5 stars

ONLY A TRUE BEST FRIEND CAN PROTECT YOU FROM YOUR IMMORTAL ENEMIES…

Lissa Dragomir is a Moroi princess: a mortal vampire with a rare gift for harnessing the earth’s magic. She must be protected at all times from Strigoi; the fiercest vampires—the ones who never die. The powerful blend of human and vampire blood that flows through Rose Hathaway, Lissa’s best friend, makes her a dhampir. Rose is dedicated to a dangerous life of protecting Lissa from the Strigoi, who are hell-bent on making Lissa one of them.

After two years of freedom, Rose and Lissa are caught and dragged back to St. Vladimir’s Academy, a school for vampire royalty and their guardians-to-be, hidden in the deep forests of Montana. But inside the iron gates, life is even more fraught with danger…and the Strigoi are always close by.

Rose and Lissa must navigate their dangerous world, confront the temptations of forbidden love, and never once let their guard down, lest the evil undead make Lissa one of them forever…

I’ve been meaning to read Vampire Academy from a long time solely to get my bitchy vampire drama fix. And I got it, finally, with a few extra concepts in the package. Most of these extras were surprises, obviously, from the atypical Rose, to the relationship between Moroi and Dhampirs, to the subplot going on underneath all the drama. I do have problems with what Mead tried to include here, but Vampire Academy excels easily in the department of guilty pleasure reads.

The story starts off immediately with Rose and Lissa trying to escape from mysterious people trying to capture them, and it is instantly revealed that these people are from the St. Vincent’s Academy, the high school that Rose and Lissa used to go to and have successfully escaped from — until now. After heading back reluctantly to the academy, Rose and Lissa sink back into their old friendships and habits, some easily and some with difficulty. However, danger and mystery is lurking around, and the two are at the forefront of it.

 First of all, I have to say that this book contained a lot more action and adventure type ideas than I thought it would be. I watched the movie trailer for the Vampire Academy movie adaptation about a year ago (I was kicking myself for not reading the book already at the time of its release, but I heard it was shitty so I’m not bothered), and I assumed the book would be Mean Girls with vampires in it. More or less, I wasn’t wrong, but there was a lot more plotting and mystery that I had expected and it surprised me. The Moroi, Lissa in particular, is constantly under threat of the Strigoi, who are basically past Moroi vampires who have either willingly or unwillingly been turned into psycho, rabid monsters, the Strigoi.

The drama infused in the book was particularly the reason I picked this one up, and it didn’t disappoint in that department. There was trash talk, rumors, cheating, lying, all this unfiltered shit going on that gave me life. I also loved how we were introduced to all the social rules present in the academy, which shaped the book significantly. There are also many norms in the vampire world that stem the prejudices, discrimination, and general social behavior toward certain types of vampires and actions, and I was impressed with the fact that Mead was able to create a simple but fleshed-out social environment easily. Unfortunately, the original mystery subplot overtaking the major issue in the book was disappointing in its reveal and execution itself. It’s thin and underdeveloped, and I didn’t feel as unsettled or shocked as I wanted it to be.

Rose is an unusual character, and I’m surprised that not many other heroines have come quite close to her badass character after Vampire Academy‘s publication in 2007. She’s got no filter, is confident, and owns herself and her sexuality completely. She’ll bother people, I’ll tell you that. She bothered me at first because I disliked the fact that she had to rude to everyone, calling people around her boring and tame, as well as trying too hard to be a savage. Talking like a normal person and having a regular conversation with someone is probably stale to her wild ass, but putting that aside she actually is a savage and pretty good one at that. Rose can be a bitch and she knows it. This doesn’t stop her from speaking her mind, defending herself and Lissa from those who criticize her, and shielding the ones she loves from danger. She’s fiercely protective of Lissa and is constantly looking out for her well-being, and I enjoyed this needed female friendship. Lissa herself is actually pretty dry, but I liked their relationship together.

There is a ‘romance’ of sorts, but I honestly don’t get it considering Rose’s love interest is a man several years older than her. Rose and Dmitri might be attracted to one another, but what they have going on right now is simply infatuation. I also don’t know if they can go any further than their general lust toward each other because Dmitri is a very typical, brooding YA guy and their feelings toward each other don’t have much of a basis besides the fact they are both hot. However, they really didn’t progress anymore than the infatuation already present, so I’m glad Mead decided to save the actual relationship for another book. It would have been unrealistic if they had already gone to ‘relationship status’ in the first book, and I hoping that Dmitri and Rose’s ‘romance’ will expand in the next book.

Overall, Vampire Academy makes for an easy, dramatic, and fun read. I’m definitely looking forward to whenever I decide to pick up the next book and hopefully the vampire politics and romantic relationships are just as emphasized as the drama by then.

-Haven

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