by Richelle Mead
♦published from 2007-2010
♦intended audience: Young adult
I don’t know what it is about vampires but somehow I am oddly drawn to their stories. So even though I have stacks and stacks of wonderful books sitting on my shelves, I couldn’t help but accept the challenge of reading the first Vampire Academy Book from a good friend. She told me “just read #1 so you know what I am talking about.” I thought to myself, one book in the midst of many is not a bad challenge. So I took her up on it. Well folks that was 3 weeks and 6 Vampire Academy books ago. I will be honest---the first one was a bit slow to get through. I kept thinking what the heck?? Is the author ever going to get to the point? I even called my friend, who laughed and said “Wait it out! It'll be worth it!” And yes, it defiantly was. The author Richelle Mead has this uncanny knack for kicking you right in the gut in the last 100 pages. You can’t help but fall face first into the story line and before you have a chance to catch your breath the book ends only to leave you begging for more. That’s where it happened: The Vampire Academy books took a life of their own, the magic found me just in time to hurdle me into the 2nd book.
So to not make this a forever long review I will add just a small amount of vampire academy knowledge 101. This series is a bit of a different take on your typical vampires. The story involves 2 different types of vampires (which at first was a bit confusing to follow). First you have the Moroni Vampire---basically your typical vampires that we are use to, fangs, blood, etc. However they do have some tolerance to light and they aren’t savage beasts. Just a culture all their own with royalty, structure, and their own government followed by their own set of governing rules. They live in this time period parallel to us unsuspecting humans all over the world; however alot of the books take place in Montana. Then you have Dhampirs. Which are half Moroni vampire half Dhampir. Which that race is not human but not vampires either. They don’t have fangs or a need of blood. They are born basically to protect (guardians) and serve the Moroni vampires. They have more strength than a human would and have the amazing ability to heal quickly (A little more confusing but hopefully you get the idea). Then there is the Strigoi, and yep you probably guessed it. They are the evil ones. Basically they are turned vampires. Good to evil, blood sucking human killing horrible vampires. I guess you have to have something for those guardians to protect the elite Moroni from.
The story takes place at an academy for the Dhamphirs and Moroni. Different classes for different life paths. It follows the captivating story of Rose (Dhampir ) and Lissa ( Moroni) and all the crazy wild adventures that one extremely headstrong, take-charge, follow-your-gut, teenage girl and a last of the family line Moroni Princess can get into. I am not going to go into each story line and plot or this will so that I am sure all of you will stop reading after page one due to my tendency to ramble. I will say however if you enjoy a great series (one that is completed and you can enjoy it start to finish) or have that love of vampires, and you can’t get enough, or just want a series that you get so caught up in that you find yourself spending 3 weeks of every possible reading moment flying through a book I would suggest this series. And please don’t let the cover art fool you. Yes this is a shout out to Penguin “change the covers”. The covers can fool you, as it did me. They are the main reason I wouldn’t read the books. I thought it was a typical, cheesy "girl in a teenage drama" vampire story. But the series is none of this. They are a great story line with an extremely thought-out and heavily researched plot that has a ton of twists and changes that leave you on the edge. These stories are rich in love, adventure, killing, fighting, hierarchy laws, and laws that are meant to be broken. Forbidden love, lies, deceit, magic, and, oddly enough, a lot of Russian culture. I found myself lost in the rich mountainscapes of Montana and then suddenly whisked away to the country side of Russia. Richelle Mead’s knowledge of Russia and her writings of the country found me thinking she herself must have been there as she wrote these books. There’s Russian language and customs and traditions that are so intricately woven into the Moroni culture you don’t for one second doubt the long lineage of these vampires.
And don’t worry, there isn’t one love story to follow---there are many. Many hearts get broken and I found myself hating one character to then find myself routing for that same character in the next book. Every character is so deep and complexly detailed that there is no end or way to foretell their next actions. Each character is so rich and complex you can’t help but form attachments and feelings for them, only to question yourself and change your mind. For as much as these are just characters that come to life on a book page, Rachel mead writes them as complex as a human being full of every emotion which she makes you feel for them through their rash decision making skills that makes the stories twist and turn. Because let’s face it, we as humans never seem to make the easy right choice that answers all life’s questions in a simple easy 300 page book. And yet never fear. Even though the series ends the complex story doesn’t. The story line ends but was so richly told, Mead was able to just move on to another character and pick up her story and carry on the tradition in a new series called Bloodlines. So if you become a fan you won’t be left empty handed.
I give this series 4 cupcakes. Yes, it was a great series however I have to take a cupcake away for the slow start and bad covers.