Vampire Academy (Vampire Academy #1) by Richelle Mead
Lissa Dragomir is a Moroi princess: a mortal vampire with an unbreakable bond to the earth’s magic. She must be protected at all times from Strigoi; the fiercest and most dangerous vampires–the ones who never die.
The powerful blend of human and vampire blood that flows through Rose Hathaway, Lissa’s best friend, makes her a Dhampir; she is dedicated to a dangerous life of protecting Lissa from the Strigoi, who are hell-bent on making her one of them.
After two years of illicit freedom, Rose and Lissa are caught and dragged back to St. Vladimir’s Academy, hidden in the deep forests of Montana. Rose will continue her Dhampir education. Lissa will go back to being Queen of the elite Moroi social scene. And both girls will resume breaking hearts.
Fear made Lissa and Rose run away from St. Vladimir’s–but their world is fraught with danger both inside and out of the Academy’s iron gates. Here, the cutthroat ranks of the Moroi perform unspeakable rituals and their secretive nature and love of the night creates an enigmatic world full of social complexities. Rose and Lissa must navigate through this dangerous world, confront the temptation of forbidden romance, and never once let their guard down, lest the Strigoi make Lissa one of them forever…
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It’s taken me a long time to pick up Vampire Academy. I’ve read some of Richelle Mead‘s adult urban fantasy series (the first couple in both her Dark Swan and Georgina Kincaid series) but I was never in the mood to try out Vampire Academy until recently. And now I’m so glad that I have because the first book in the series was really great. A solid YA urban fantasy with strong characters and a tight plot with character growth and surprises. In fact, that wasn’t anything I disliked about Vampire Academy, so it’s hard to know where to start talking about it. Actually, that’s not true. I don’t like the angle used on the cover because I think it makes the model look a little weird and needlessly coy but that’s a small quibble and one that has nothing to do with the content of the book…
I suppose the logical place to start is Rose, our dhampir narrator, sworn to protect her best friend, Lissa. Rose is a lot of fun. She’s got a lot of sass and a desire to be her best so that she can keep Lissa safe from the Strigoi and all the other threats in Lissa’s life, both inside and out of school. Her devotion has led her to take extraordinary measures — measures that would cause people to look down on her — but Rose doesn’t let that stop her from doing what she thinks is best. It’s an admirable quality in anyone but it’s really special here since it’s also what motivates Rose to grow up.
Lissa is also an intriguing character, probably because she’s got more darkness in her, thanks to her depression and her unusual powers. She’s also got a lot of winning characteristics, though, which make her a great foil for Rose. What’s interesting is that I think Lissa is a bit more cutthroat than Rose even though Rose is supposed to be the one doing the protecting.
The world that Richelle Mead has created is really well done. I love the idea of different classes of vampires, with the Moroi being good and mortal and the Strigoi being bad and immortal. It’s an interesting dichotomy that will hopefully be explored more fully over the course of the series. I liked that people could choose to become Strigoi or could be forced — this is a neat twist and hopefully we’ll meet some characters who were forcibly turned, to see what they’re like. I’d assume they’re more grey than black and white, if you know what I mean, but I look forward to seeing what the author actually does with these characters, if they exist.
I have the next book in the series, Frostbite, out from the library as well so I think I’m going to dive into that as soon as possible. I can’t wait to see what Richelle Mead’s got in store for Rose and Lissa!