Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Review: Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead


Review: Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead
Goodreads 
Release date: August 16th, 2007
Publisher: Razorbill
Series: Yes, #1 in the Vampire Academy series
Source: purchased
Rating: Meh? Yay? Not sure? Great MC and love interest, blah mostly everything else.

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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...

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.



The cover: LOATHSOME. Why is Angelina Jolie smirking at me from behind an iron gate? Who thought this was a good idea?

The story: It's no secret that this book series is popular. And I mean NYT-bestseller, 187k-Goodreads reviews, movie-adaptation popular. I always wade into uber-hyped books with more than a little trepidation, and because of those fears, I honestly don't know if I enjoyed Vampire Academy more than I expected, or if I was disappointed in it.

One thing I know I don't like: the concept. Well, half the concept. Vampire Academy  is about a dhampir girl named Rose, best friend and psychically-linked guardian of Moroi Princess Lissa. They attend an academy (surprise!) where they learn things like Slavic Art, for some bizarre reason. I really enjoyed Mead's take on living vampires (Moroi), half-vampires (dhampirs) and evil dead vampires (Moroi). I thought the idea of a boarding school where they all study/carouse/mean girl together was totally cheesy. Which I understand is the basic premise of the book, but whatever. And while it feels totally unoriginal now, I can appreciate that when this book was published all the way back in 2007, it probable felt pretty fresh.

I really enjoyed Rose. She's a sassy bad-ass fighter girl with high self-confidence and a low tolerance for bullshit. She's a refreshing heroine in a category that's overloaded with shy, retiring MCs. She's brash, reckless, and makes some tremendously foolish decisions that never diminish my love for her. She's hot and she knows it and she's always willing to go to battle for Lissa, the person she loves the most. Their friendship was a central part of the plot, which I also enjoyed. Overall, Vampire Academy is a fun read with a few central mysteries

I think the ultimate problem with this book, fun as it is, is that it just didn't light my world on fire. Richelle Mead's prose varies from totally passable to flat and clunky:

"Oh God," I said. How horrible. I tightened my hands in his. He squeezed back. "That's horrible. And she... she just let it happen?"



The characters also vary from vivid and charismatic (Rose, Lissa, Christian, Dimitri) to who was that again? (Mason, Natalie). Christian is secretly the best character in the entire novel. As for the mystery, I enjoyed that Rose, attempting to figure out what's going on, did not seem Too Stupid To Live, and did seem to heed nearly all of the warning signs flung at her (I did figure one or two things out before she did, but this is obviously because I am brilliant and deserve all nice things). The big action-packed endings felt totally anemic and underwritten. The big scenes should have been punchier and longer, though I did like what was happening. There was drama and high stakes (WORDPLAY) and all that jazz, even if I didn't feel like Mead completely delivered in executing her plot to the fullest.

You know what she did execute? Romance. I totally bought the sexual tension between Rose and her hot Russian instructor, Dimitri, despite the slightly squicky age difference, the hair, and the duster. (The duster.)

And then, suddenly, he was there, charging down the hallway like Death in a cowboy duster.



Despite the ridiculousness of that quote,  I ship it. There were shippy feelings. Yayyyy. In the end, Vampire Academy is a fun, if unextraordinary, read. I was really hoping I'd have stronger feelings about, but at least I didn't dislike it. There were aspects of it I actually almost loved, and I'm pretty interested in continuing the series, even though it won't be one of my favorites ever.


13 comments:

  1. Haha, yes, every time I see this cover the first thing that pops in my head is: Angelina Jolie!

    This series is SO hyped. I'm always afraid to start reading them and I have the complete series waiting. I'm happy it was at least enjoyable enough to continue! :)

    Mel@thedailyprophecy.

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  2. Prepping myself to read this one with the movie coming out early next year, but probably won't be getting to it until closer to then. This was an awesome review and YES, that is totally Angelie Jolie's doppelganger on the front cover!!

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  3. Finally. Someone who agrees with me. Christian is by far the most underrated character in this series. I've slowly been making my way through the series. I've enjoyed them but you're right, nothing has lit a fire to the point that I MUST go read the next one right NOW. I will eventually finish the series, I've read through the 4th book, I think there's what, 6 in this series?

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  4. I read this after Twilight and it was the second vampire series read I read and so it was super original back then. I think it's pretty light and fun in general. I'm glad you enjoyed it overall!

    -P.E. @ The Sirenic Codex

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  5. My sister in law keeps telling me that I need to read these! She even handed over the first one, but I still haven't done it yet. Oops! And can I just say that that Gilmore Girls gif had me belly laughing! Also, it sounds like the love story is great, duster and all. He really wears a duster?

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  6. Yes, Christian is fantastic! I really loved him. While I really liked the first one (and LOVED the series), I know what you mean by h ow it doesn't seem like, extraordinary or anything. Howeverrr, I think they get a lot better (3rd was my fave) and more action packed.

    I shipped Rose and dimitri so hard and.. that duster. I freaking love that duster now, haha.

    YES, what is with that cover??? Not sure where they got the lookalike... haha.

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  7. lol, awesome review Gillian :D I'm sorry you didn't fully love it, but glad you didn't hate it ;p It is good that the characters are good, at least. I am interested in those. I might already own all of these books, though I have not yet read them.. but omg, yes, that cover is awful! Thank god I have those gorgeous UK(?) red flowers covers. <3 hih. They are pretty awesome. Anyway. Thank you for sharing your thoughts on this book. <3

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  8. Great review!
    I't one of those series that I'm now scared to read, with all the hype and the love and... yeah. So I'm guessing I'll give it a chance soon and see what I think of it.

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  9. I just recently read this too, and had similiar reactions (though I was also fascinated by the slut-shaming juxtaposed with Rose's generally empowering attitude toward sex, too). For better or worse, I'm sucked into the series. If the writing doesn't exactly improve, Rose's voice and the Rose and Dmitri tension propels readers forward.

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  10. So, true story: I rated this book 2 stars. BUT I kept going with the series, and the second book was a 3 star. By the start of the third one I was all LET'S DO THIS. I got more and more invested with each book. And yeah, the concept seems totally outdated now, but it was actually kinda cool when the books first came out! :)

    Agreed that there was a big "meh" factor to this first one, but RM really grows as a story-teller. AND DIMITRI/ROSE are more and more awesome. (Awwww, "who was that" to Mason. I heart Mason. And Christian.)

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  11. HAHAHAH, your comments on the cover are SO true. She looks so much like Angelina Jolie, she could probably walk up to Brad Pitt and get some action without him noticing.

    What a terrible!

    COWBOY DUSTER. I just picture a maid with a duster cleaning off a cowboy.

    SUPER SQUICKY AGE DIFFERENCE. Real love can wait until she turns 18 okay. Masturbation will get you through.

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  12. Haha, I actually kind of like the covers. Not that I would want them on my own books (if I ever wrote some, which I will not) but they're more or less iconic for this series. "Oh, the head and shoulder floating above a gate? Yep, Vampire Academy."

    Oh yeah, her prose could definitely use some work. I just read the first Georgia Kincaid and I was disappointed. The mystery and mythology were seriously half-assed, so I hope that isn't the case here.

    See, with Rose, everything I read about her makes me want to like her, especially because she seems to be the "passive YA heroine" antidote, but I'm afraid that she'll annoy me when I finally get to reading the books and I don't want that to happen.

    She is GREAT at romance. Not even kidding. Georgina and Seth? I ship it like major. MAJOR. (This might not be English.) You are indeed so vair brilliant and deserving of nice things, Gillian.

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  13. Haha, I actually kind of like the covers. Not that I would want them on my own books (if I ever wrote some, which I will not) but they're more or less iconic for this series. "Oh, the head and shoulder floating above a gate? Yep, Vampire Academy."

    Oh yeah, her prose could definitely use some work. I just read the first Georgia Kincaid and I was disappointed. The mystery and mythology were seriously half-assed, so I hope that isn't the case here.

    See, with Rose, everything I read about her makes me want to like her, especially because she seems to be the "passive YA heroine" antidote, but I'm afraid that she'll annoy me when I finally get to reading the books and I don't want that to happen.

    She is GREAT at romance. Not even kidding. Georgina and Seth? I ship it like major. MAJOR. (This might not be English.) You are indeed so vair brilliant and deserving of nice things, Gillian.

    ReplyDelete

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