Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead

by Sydnee Thompson

When your whole life is about saving others, who will save you?

Being perfectly honest, when I first saw the cover of Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead, my main reaction was to roll my eyes and groan. Vampires and super secret high schools/boarding schools for the gifted… where have I seen that before? I’ve read books with the same basic premise and been vastly disappointed, so when I received Vampire Academy in the mail as a blog contest prize I wasn’t very enthusiastic about reading it. Still, free is free, and after admitting that the jacket design is really quite snazzy, I snuggled up and prepared myself for boredom.

I was pleasantly surprised. Although riddled with the kind of petty, snarky clique wars that made me despise high school, Vampire Academy isn’t horrible. In fact, it was quite entertaining. I found Rose’s outgoing, flirtatious, hotheaded, devil-may-care attitude to be refreshing in contrast to all the meek little mice heroines out there. Ironically though, her best friend Lissa is exactly that type.  I suppose Mead was going for balance with the two characters’ drastically different personalities, but I found their relationship to be the opposite. It’s obvious that Rose is the one in control – both she and Lissa go as far as to mention this on countless occasions. As Lissa’s Guardian, Rose makes all the decisions, Rose takes all the action, and when Lissa is hurt or offended by something or someone, Rose is the one who steps in to clean up the mess and pick up the pieces, even if she doesn’t particularly want to. Rose is taller with dark features and a more voluptuous figure; Lissa is thin and pale and blond. I suppose the mutual emotional dependency between them should make up for it, but I’m not buying it. In the first chapter or so, Rose allows Lissa to drink blood from her neck to replenish her energy – later on this is shown to be more feasible that I originally thought, but it’s still kind of creepy. While reading about their unbreakable bond, I couldn’t help but get codependent, doomed romantic entanglement vibes, which I’m positive was not Richelle Mead’s intent.

The plot is pretty straightforward – There are three types of vampires in the world: Dhampirs, which are human/vampire hybrids; Moroi, the pure-blooded mortal vampires with an affinity for elemental magic, and the Strigoi, the immortal and devastatingly cruel ones who depend on Moroi blood for sustenance. There are two ways to make a Strigoi – when Strigoi bite humans, Moroi, or Dhampirs and inject them with its venom; or when Moroi vampires bite Dhampirs or humans and kill them (the act of killing turns one into a Strigoi, not the other way around). Dhampirs serve as Guardians to the much more vulnerable Moroi in order to keep them safe from Strigoi. Lissa is a Moroi princess, and Rose is her (unofficial) Guardian, who is studying in order to pass her field exams and become an official Guardian once she graduates.

Mead uses traditional vampire myths as a foundation for her new-age twist, which includes vampires with elemental powers and a strong connection to the earth – definitely not your standard ‘damned’ vampire tale. Some of the witty banter exchanged between students, namely Rose and one of her numerous boy toys, did elicit a few chuckles. However, Rose and Lissa both can be pretty infuriating in their actions – Rose is too impulsive (“crazy” as her peers refer to her), and Lissa is too passive – but they did manage to redeem themselves by the end of the novel. Plus the action and intrigue kept me reading and the forbidden romance between Rose and Dimitri was right up my alley. The plot comes together piece by piece at a decent pace, and there were no plot holes or inconsistencies to speak of. So, I give it three and a half stars – pretty good entertainment for a lazy Sunday afternoon, but not something making me desperate to get to a bookstore for the sequels.

Sydnee is a freshman at Wayne State University pursuing a degree in Journalism. Her hobbies include painting and taking long afternoon naps. She is obsessed with hunky heroes, explosions, melodrama, and magic—all things that make a frequent appearance in her stories. Her blog is http://syd-dreams.blogspot.com.


3 thoughts on “Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead

  1. Have you read the House of Night series? It’s also about a vampire high school, but not as lame as most of the ones out there. The first 3-4 books in the series were pretty good– but I read the later ones just in hopes of finishing the series, and then gave up once I realized just how many new ones there was going to be. But I would recommend at least reading the 1st one, if not also 2 & 3.

  2. In Richelle Mead writing fashion (I’m not sure if you’ve read her two adult series), her series are about the overall character development and plot twists. Her characterization of Rose and Lissa in the first book is a little limited because they are young and limited. However, over the course of the next five books, starting really half-way through Frostbite (book two), the characterization and long-arcing plot really begins to change. Mead is a slow change writer. The characters aren’t going to be much different from the start of a book and the end of the book; but the characters over the course of a series? Vastly more learned characters. It’s why Mead is one of my preferred authors. I find her story-telling, her development, and her timelines more realistic to most of life. Mead mixes slow change and quick change quite well throughout the whole series. And her characters are ever learning how to overcome their own naivety: Rose and her impulsiveness and her party-line beliefs; Lissa and her timidness and her party-line beliefs.
    I read the first three books because I had access to them when they were published, thinking much like you did: good lazy Sunday reading. But, by the end of book two and through book three I knew I was being told a much greater story.

  3. I’ve read all of the Vampire Academy novels and I’m actually a huge fan of the series. This series is directed towards teens, and seeing that I am one, I enjoyed them thoroughly. You’re right about the girls’ opposite personalities, but they do have several core values in common that bring them together. You didn’t say too much about Dimitri’s personality, which plays a huge role in the book. I know there aren’t many characters, but as the series continues(there are six books in all) Richelle Mead creates an interesting cast. In a nutshell, this series is good if you’re a vampire-loving teen who’s sick of Twilight.

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