Monday, 6 December 2010

Vampire Academy (VA #1) - Richelle Mead

Vampire Academy is the first book in the series of the same name by Richelle Mead. It was published on 26th May 2009 by Puffin and is 336 pages long. Thanks to the publisher for sending me a copy for review.

Hidden away, St Vladimir’s Academy is unlike other boarding schools. It’s a boarding school/ training school for vampires and half-human teens. Rose and Lissa, a Dhampir guardian and a Moroi Princess, managed to escape the Academy though and have been on the run for a while. That was until some big looking guy turned up and forced them to go back.

Back at the Academy, Rose and Lissa don’t feel like they fit in as well as they used to. Things have changed dramatically since they left and it seems like everyone is keeping secrets, including themselves. Caught up in romances, an ever changing social scene and a lot of intense training with a hot Russian guardian, Rose has he work cut out for her is she is going to keep Lissa safe from the most dangerous vampires around… the Strigoi.

What I thought
I do love a good Vampire series and a lot of people know that The Morganville Vampires by Rachel Caine is my favourite. I had put off reading anything in this series for a long time as I thought another quite long vampire series may be too much for me. I was also a bit worried that it wouldn’t be different enough to other books in the YA genre. I really had nothing to worry about though and now I wish I had picked it up a lot sooner.

I really liked Rose from the very beginning. As the story is told from her point of view, I got to find out so much about her and her personality. She’s a very feisty and fiery character even though she can be really fragile at times as well. I loved how she made herself seem invincible to everyone around her apart from Lissa. Due to the bond they share, it seemed to me like Lissa was the one person that she could truly be herself around and the one person who she would really let it. Although Rose did flit in-between different parts of her personality, I thought this was extremely well done. There were times when she acted very mature for her age but then other times when she realised that she was quite childish and petty around her peers. There were also times when she made it clear that she would do anything for Lissa, not only because that is her job as a guardian, but also because she is her best friend.

So onto the guys in this book. There were certainly plenty of talent to pick from and I found myself quite torn all of the time.

Dimitri - To be totally honest, I really didn’t like Dimitri at first. He was far too much of a soldier for my liking, being very stiff and boring for a large chunk of the book. Then I saw him soften up. Slowly, he begun to crack, little by little, and I started to see a different side to him. I completely understood why he acted the way he did towards Rose and that was one of the reasons that made me warm to him. Also, there are events towards the end of the book that completely changed my mind about him from slightly liking him, to loving him completely.

Mason - It was obvious from the start that Mason liked Rose. I felt quite sorry for him throughout the book though as it was made very clear that Rose just wasn’t into him in the same way. He was very sweet and obviously cared about Rose a lot as a friend as well as anything else. He’s the kind of guy that would probably do anything for her, no matter what the trouble. I’m not usually into the nice guys but I think I would have made an exception for Mason.

Christian - I love myself a bad boy and it seems as though they probably couldn’t get any more dangerous than Christian. He was a very interesting character because no one in the Academy really knew anything about him. Their was always an air of mystery surrounding him and I couldn’t figure out for a while whether I thought he was going to be good or bad for Lissa.

When it came to the different kinds of students at St Vladimir’s, I thought that I was going to get confused. Luckily, everything is explained extremely clearly and I found that I had quickly grasped who was who and what was going on. Rose is Dhampir which is half human and half Moroi. Lissa is Moroi which is a born, mortal vampire while Strigoi are immortal vampires who are extremely dangerous and violent. I also like knowing the history of a race when it comes to books like this so knowing who everyone was and why everyone didn’t/ couldn’t leave together peacefully was a big bonus for me. In many vampire books, drinking each others’ blood usually seems to be a big deal in a sexual way. In Vampire Academy, this is still a big deal but it is also used as a means to survival. I thought the distinction between the two was very clear and well explained.

For once, I wasn’t left with a massive cliff-hanger. Although some things have been left open for the second book in the series, a lot was wrapped up nicely and I didn’t feel frustrated like I usually do. The ending also wasn’t completely predictable. Sometimes, I feel like I can guess what is going to happen next but with this series, I feel like anything could happen and that Rose isn’t in for an easy time at all. I really wish that I had picked up this series as it is so much better than I first thought it would be. Vampire Academy has a darkness and tension that a lot of books in this genre don’t have, which sets it apart from everything else. This may be the first of Richelle Mead’s books that I have read but it certainly wont be the last.

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