Monday, March 1, 2010
Vampire Academy series by Richelle Mead
Ever since my disastrous attempt at reading The Vampire Diaries series (first series in my life that I just could not bring myself to finish), I've pretty much avoided the bazillions of young adult vampire series that are out there. Of course I read Twilight a few years ago (is there anyone who hasn't these days?), and I've enjoyed the trashy deliciousness that is the Southern Vampire/Sookie Stackhouse series. But let's face it: Aside from Twilight itself, I felt the rest of the series wasn't nearly as awesome. And the Southern Vampire series isn't YA, so I consider that to be a whole different beast. It's not that I'm anti-YA Vampire Lit, because I'm not. These books just all seem like copycats of each other, and I hear that quite frankly some of them suck. Like the Vampire Diaries series.
However, I have been hearing somewhat consistently good things about the Vampire Academy series by Richelle Mead. And I have to admit, I was pretty intrigued by the premise because it sounded a bit different than the whole human-girl-falls-in-love-with-hot-vampire thing. This one didn't even seem to have any human characters, and that really sounded kind of fun.
So, point being... I read all four currently-published books in about four days. This is not a record for me by any means, but the fact that I absolutely devoured these books and ultimately probably neglected my husband for much of those four days really says something (though he cannot complain too much considering I made him some mean biscuits and gravy for breakfast yesterday). These books will never hold a flame to my love Harry Potter, but if they sucked I certainly wouldn't have munched on them all weekend like I did. Heck, I even abandoned much of the Olympics for these!
Before I get into the synopsis and some more info, here is a little bit of vocabulary to help you out:
Moroi = Mortal Vampire race. They're nice, generally speaking, and while they still need blood to survive, they do not kill.
Dhampir = Half Moroi/Half Human. These guys are stronger than Moroi, but they inherited the Vampire-esque quick reflexes and a few other useful traits. Dhampirs often become guardians for Moroi, particularly Moroi royalty.
Strigoi = Immortal Vampire race. They are not nice, and they kill. There are two ways to become one: A Moroi can become Strigoi by intentionally killing someone while feeding, or a Strigoi can turn anyone (Moroi/Dhampir/Human) by biting the victim to drain their blood and then feeding Strigoi blood back to said victim, who them becomes Strigoi.
The first book in the series, Vampire Academy, begins when Lissa, a Moroi princess, and Rose, a Dhampir who is Lissa's best friend and future guardian, are captured after being on the run for two years and brought back to their vampire academy, St. Vladimir's Academy. They had originally broken out of the school because it was not safe for Lissa, and it quickly turns out that it is still not safe when bad things begin happening. Rose, fearing for Lissa's safety, does her best to try and protect her best friend as she herself continues training to become a full-fledged guardian.
Obviously, the story gets more complex and involved as the series goes on, but I can't give the synopsis of any books other than the first without giving away some serious plot points. These books really have some interesting dynamics that kept me thinking though: Moroi are considered superior to Dhampirs, and yet the Moroi can't seem to survive without the help of their Dhampir guardians. Meanwhile, the undead Strigoi are considered to be evil and soulless, shells of what they had been in life. When someone is turned Strigoi, the rest of the vampire community considers them to be dead, despite the fact that technically that person is still walking around, albeit chomping on innocent victims. Nevertheless, it creates some interesting situations and dynamics that I enjoyed contemplating.
Something else I enjoyed about the series is that our narrator is Rose. She's so interesting because despite being incredibly flawed, she also has some amazing characteristics that give her a lot of depth. She really is a great person to be telling this story because as a Dhampir, her view is so incredibly unique as well. She's not particularly high on the totem pole, and yet she's best friends with a Moroi princess who is the last member of her esteemed royal line. I can imagine that it would be exhausting to have a friend like that.
I can't really say much else about the series other than it has been a great roller coaster ride. Here is the order of the series:
Spirit Bound (to be released May 18, 2010)
Book Six, Title TBD
Based on the author's website, there's a chance for a spin-off series as well. I'm curious as to what this would entail. Regardless, I'm definitely looking forward to May 18th!