Wednesday, October 16, 2013
Review: Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead
Review: Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead
Release date: August 16th, 2007
Series: Yes, #1 in the Vampire Academy series
Rating: Meh? Yay? Not sure? Great MC and love interest, blah mostly everything else.
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.