Jul 2, 2009

Review--Vampire Academy

Vampire Academy

I recently picked up reading Richelle Mead's Young Adult (YA) series: Vampire Academy (VA); which I'm glad I did, because this series is fantastic for YA!

As you might guess based on the title vampires are involved, but it's not all about vampires going to school, so don't think Harry Potter but with vamps instead of witches/wizards, because that's not how it is.

A little bit of Vampire Academy 101, first there are the Moroi these are the "good" vampires in that they don't kill people in order to feed and all that jazz. They're the vamps with a soul if you want, such as we saw in Buffy. These vampires also have a special power that they specialize in that involves the elements; fire, water, air, earth. And there is also the unheard of 5th element: spirit. More on that later.

Then there are the Strigoi the bad vampires, they kill to feed or just kill for fun. These vampires have no ounce of humanity left in them, where the Moroi do, you could say. These vampires are very hard to kill, you either stake them in the heart with a silver stake, decapitate them, or set them on fire, all very hard to do since Strigoi are very powerful beings.

The ones who fight the Strigoi are the guardians, the ones who also protect the Moroi vampires. So yeah, they're basically body guards, mostly male, but there are a few females such as the series protagonist Rose.

Now on to the review of the first novel! Rose is a dhampir, meaning her father was a vampire, a Moroi and her mother is human. Her mother is also a guardian but she dropped Rose off at the academy as soon as she could so her daughter could start training to be a guardian. She technically was one already in a way for her best friend Lissa, a Moroi princess, the last of her family and the one who she will likely be a guardian for once she graduates. We also learn that her family died in a car crash not so long ago. She was the only survivor of her family.

Rose is set to protect her, but she soon learns something about her best friend, something very quickly. Lissa had never shown any sign of her upcoming power specialty which was cause for Lissa to worry, but soon it becomes apparent that Lissa has the 5th power, the special rare one; the spirit, this isn't learned until later though. Although Lissa has the ability to heal people or animals, but never really understood what that power was, she also could use compulsion very effectively which makes things easy for her when she really needs something.

These abilities makes Lissa very-very special indeed, not to mention being the last member of her family. The Strigoi are going to be after her if word got out about her abilities. So Rose and Lissa kept it all secret and when Rose had the feeling her friend's life was in danger they run away from the Academy. And this is really where the novel starts--sort of. They have already ran away and a group of guardians have come to bring them back to school.

So that's where they find themselves in Chapter 2, in front of the headmistress who is not one of Rose's fave people. They have been gone for 2 years now and Rose as well as Lissa have a lot of catching up to do in their studies. Rose is forced to take extra practices with an experienced guardian just to get caught up in her defense skills. She is partnered with the very guardian who captured her, Dimitri. An older guy who has definitely caught Rose's eye once or twice since her capture.

Life soon finds some sense of normality at school, if you could call it that. But some things have changed and Rose and Lissa discover that they have an enemy, Mia, another student who is set on making their time there hell for reasons unknown. At least in the beginning. Those reasons are revealed later.

Also someone is terrorizing Lissa, leaving dead animals in her room that she shares with her cousin. Could it be Mia who has a grudge against her or someone else? Rose isn't sure, but she does her best to protect her friend. There is an enemy among them, that much is clear since the Academy is so heavily protected due to all the Moroi students. Rose is going to have to try to figure out who has it out for her friend, while attending classes, extra practices, and oh yeah, being grounded to her room until the headmistress says so.

Rose is definitely the polar opposite of anyone I would ever be. She is very flirty and promiscuous. While she tries to fight her attraction with Dimitri, she busies herself with the other guys at school. But soon dirty rumors about her start to fly and they could only have come from one person, someone who was their enemy from the time they set foot back at the academy.

Basically Rose and Lissa must deal with regular high school woes, friends, an ex-boyfriend of Lissa's who's still hung up on her, enemies, along with the actual learning and living with the rumors that are scattering across the school, and try to figure out who is terrorizing Lissa. Yeah, no problem. That's definitely the regular high school woes, perhaps that should be phrased a little differently. Such as regular high school woes, plus crime solving?

Other details that I neglected to mention are that Lissa and Rose have a connection of sorts, Rose can read Lissa's mind and actually get inside her mind and sees what she sees. There is also guy trouble involved for both girls, as Mason, Rose's guy friend has a major crush on her, and Lissa has a growing friendship with Christian, another Moroi at the school, one who is "destined" to turn Strigoi like his parents did. A fact that Rose doesn't like and tries to keep the two apart. This is what made me dislike Rose, that she butted into Lissa's business, I realized that they're friends and Rose wants to protect Lissa, but she has no right getting involved in Lissa's personal affairs. Rose is very childish and selfish for that portion of the book. But she grows up a little bit towards the end and of course in the next book as well.

There are quite a bit of flashbacks for Rose, as she is the narrator every now and then we take a trip down memory lane that flows nicely as Rose is thinking about something and then is reminded of the time...and so on.

This is a thrilling start in the VA series, with twists and turns that are unbelievable. The tension between Rose and Dimitri is beautifully done, as well as the growing relationship between Lissa and Christian.

And as always since I can't give away too many spoilers, I might have left out other plot details, but I feel like I have already said too much. But here is what's on the back of the book, most of which I have talked about and added more detail here and there, that wasn't what I thought to be much of a spoiler, never fear for a whole lot more happens in the 332 page novel.

Only a true best friend can protect you from your immortal enemies...

Lissa Dragomir is a Moroi princess: a mortal vampire with an unbreakable bond to the earth's magic. She must be protected at all times from Strigoi; the fiercest and most dangerous vampires--the ones who never die.

The powerful blend of human and vampire blood that flows through Rose Hathway, 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 her one of them.

After two years of illicit freedom, Rose and Lissa are caught and dragged back to St. Vladimir's Academy, hidden in the deep forests of Montana. Rose will continue her Dhampir education. Lissa will go back to being Queen of the elite Moroi social scene. And
both girls will resume breaking Academy hearts.

Fear made Lissa and Rose run away from St. Vladimir's--inside the Academy's iron gates, their world is even more fraught with danger. Here, the cutthroat ranks of the Moroi perform unspeakable rituals, and their secretive nature and love of the night creates an enigmatic world full of social complexities. Rose and Lissa must navigate through this dangerous world, confront the temptation of forbidden romance, and never once let their guard down, lest the Strigoi make Lissa one of them forever...

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