by Richelle Mead
(First published August 16, 2007 by Razorbill)
I think one of the reasons that I hesitated to read VAMPIRE ACADEMY is because the Twilight series managed to burn me out on vampires, and the backlash from those books made me wary of other vampy books. So I kept putting these books off because I felt like it would just be reading Twilight all over again. This turned out to be a great lesson in not making assumptions. YOU WERE SO WRONG, AMY. In my opinion, now that I’ve read books from both series, the Vampire Academy series is better for a lot of reasons, and I’m mad at myself that I waited this long to jump in. Also, NOT becoming addicted to these books is as impossible as, like, time travel. THEY ARE BOOK CRACK AND I LOVE THEM. Ahem. So. Let’s discuss, shall we?
There were a few things that I noticed right away about VAMPIRE ACADEMY that I really appreciated, and one is that the world is sophisticated. There’s no silly, cheesy vampires here. The way the different breeds of vampires exist is complex and dangerous and full of drama. I’m digging the impending political/ideological crisis vibe that’s going on between the various Moroi and their dhampirs, and the Strigoi seem badass and creepy. Also, I love me a good rebellion, y’all, and the seeds of one are being sown.
The characters are also FANTASTIC, and are one of my favorite things about VAMPIRE ACADEMY. Generally speaking, I always love it when teens in books act in a realistic way. The kids at St. Vlad’s curse, have sex, get into trouble, and drink. That always gets a thumbs up from me. And the secondary characters are fleshed out and have great personalities. I loved Lissa and Christian, and Mia is deliciously malicious.
But really, the centerpiece is Rose, and she’s a BAMF. Rose is AWESOME, and I think a kind of rarer character in YA in that she isn’t your typical wallflower kind of girl. She’s sassy, impulsive, brash, and confident. When it comes to Lissa, her best friend with whom she shares a very rare, almost psychic bond, she’s fiercely loyal and determined to protect her at any cost. But let me just say that it was refreshing to read about a character who was both aware and unashamed of her physicality. She likes hooking up and flirting and flaunting what she’s got, and I LOVED it. Granted, she’s unashamed of her body because it sounds like she’s basically a 10, but the idea still applies. I loved her confidence. She totally jumps off the page with her fieriness, and I felt all of her feelings almost right away. I LOVE THIS.
Obviously another cornerstone of not only this book but the series itself is the relationship between Rose and Dimitri, her mentor and fellow dhampir. Their relationship has the potential to be tricky, but in the end, I thought it was AWESOME. I recall reading something about how some readers perceived their relationship as weird and inappropriate because Dimitri is 7 years older than Rose and basically, although not technically, her teacher. And those things are true, and they would have bothered me to no end if they had gone unaddressed. But they didn’t. In fact, I think those things are handled pretty well here. Their age difference–both in literal number and in emotional maturity–is a HUGE sticking point in their being together. Don’t mistake me: they have CRAZY chemistry, and a hot little interlude, but their chemistry is something they struggle with, and their interlude has a catch. I’m totally rooting for them.
Guys, I can’t say enough about how glad I am that you all lit a fire under my ass to get me to read these books IMMEDIATELY. Because now that I started them, I literally can’t stop (I’m reading book 3, SHADOW KISS, right now. I literally couldn’t wait long enough to write my review of the first book before I plowed through the second and half of the third). I really can’t think of many negative things about these books: they’re engaging, fun, humorous, fraught with drama and danger, have an interesting mythology, and characters who are unique and fabulous. Are they the most thought-provoking or emotional books I’ve ever read? No, but they’re certainly some of the most flat-out enjoyable. They give vampire books a good name. Now, pardon me, but I must dash. I seriously had to force myself to stop reading these books to write this review. HOLLA!
Rewind & Review is an AMAZING new meme hosted jointly by two fabulous ladies, Ginger from Greads! and Lisa from Lisa Is Busy Nerding. This meme is all about mining your TBR piles and finding some long-lost gems (from 2010 or earlier) that you meant to read and somehow passed over. I KNOW, but it happens. Each month, each participant picks a few oldies but hopefully goodies to read, reviews ‘em, and spreads the word. Huzzah!