Vampire Academy (Vampire Academy, Book 1)
by Richelle Mead
Genre: Young Adult
Published 2007, Razor Bill Books
Paperback, 332 pages
*I read this on the recommendation of Reading with Tequila.
St. Vladimir’s Academy isn’t just any boarding school—it’s a hidden place where vampires are educated in the ways of magic and half-human teens train to protect them. Rose Hathaway is a Dhampir, a bodyguard for her best friend Lissa, a Moroi Vampire Princess. They’ve been on the run, but now they’re being dragged back to St. Vladimir’s—the very place where they’re most in danger. . . .I found this book a bit unusual in that the background information that is usually relayed within the first chapter or so is not in this book. Instead, I am plunged into the action as if I were tagging along with Rose and not given relevant background information until it is actually useful to the plot. I prefer this rarely-used method because then I don't need to go back and find the definitions and explanations of things that I have forgotten when the specific topic is not addressed for half the book.
Rose and Lissa become enmeshed in forbidden romance, the Academy’s ruthless social scene, and unspeakable nighttime rituals. But they must be careful lest the Strigoi—the world’s fiercest and most dangerous vampires—make Lissa one of them forever.
I really like the way that Mead separates the "good" vampires from the "bad" vampires with the Moroi and Strigoi (although I would love a pronunciation guide) as almost two different species. There is actually a major consequence to being evil - loss of magic - with no exceptions. Mead builds an excellent world of clear-cut rules that I can appreciate.
The interplay between Rose and Lissa is fascinating both for Rose's unwavering dedication to Lissa, as well as Lissa's almost surreal innocence. If it weren't for Lissa's "madness" she would seem almost faultless. Normally, I find characters like this to not be believable, but since she is bonded to Rose, it almost seems as if they are two halves of the same person, one dark and one light. The dhampir lifestyle that Rose is a representative of seems like a cross between brainwashing, slavery, and the use of a caste system, but Rose seems to be a very willing participant. I can't decide if I like this or not, but Rose seems to be quite happy with it, especially given her abilities.
What I like most is Rose's relationship with Dimitri. In a word - hot! There is nothing like a forbidden romance to make me want to keep reading way past my bedtime as I root for every training session to go beyond the norm. Of all the ways for Victor Dashkov to distract Rose and Dimitri, there are worse ways than the much-needed lust spell. That was a fantastic way to make them aware of their feelings for each other, which may never have happened otherwise due to each other's strong sense of duty and responsibility.
The one minor thing that bothers me about this world that Mead has constructed as the lack of addressing the topic of money. For instance, Rose has been attending the Academy almost since she was born, but who pays for that?
The Cover: So I have to admit that I never really understand what is so appealing about splashing the front of a book with just a headshot and not much else. Yes, there are the school gates behind the title, but really, who can see them? It's obvious that the headshot is a representative of Rose, but I picture her a little differently in my imagination when I read. I feel like I have to keep looking at the cover to superimpose that image over the image in my head.
First Line: "I felt her fear before I heard her screams."
Well if that doesn't grab me, nothing will. Questions abound before I've even finished the first sentence. I love being thrown right into the middle of the action from the very beginning of the book.
Favorite Quote: "You are so beautiful, it hurts sometimes."
Read For: Pages Read Challenge, 101 Fantasy Challenge, Fantasy Challenge, Twenty-Ten Challenge
*I received this book free of charge from the publisher as part of a prize package from a random draw.*