Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Book Review: Vampire Academy, by Richelle Mead (first review for the 2015 Halloween Reading Challenge)



This is my first review for the
2015 Halloween Reading Challenge,
If you'd like to participate, 
click on the link above, both for
signing up, and to leave your
review link in the comments!
Enjoy, and Happy Halloween!!






Vampire Academy
(Vampire Academy, Book 1)
Richelle Mead
Hardcover, 352 pages
Razorbill, Nov. 25. 2009
(first published Aug. 16, 2007)
Paranormal Romance, Urban Fantasy, Young Adult Fiction
Source: Amazon

Book Synopsis:
Lissa Dragomir is a Moroi princess: a mortal vampire with a rare gift for harnessing the earth's magic. She must be protected at all times from Strigoi, the fiercest vampires - the ones that never die. The powerful blend of human and vampire blood that flows through Rose Hathaway, Lissa's best friend, makes her a Dhampir. Rose is dedicated to a dangerous life of protecting Lissa from the Strigoi, who are hell-bent on making Lissa one of them.

After two years of freedom, Rose and Lissa are caught and dragged back to St. Vladimir's Academy, a school for vampire royalty and their guardians-to-be, hidden in the deep forests of Montana. But inside the iron gates, life is even more fraught with danger... and the Strigoi are always close by.

Rose and Lissa must navigate their dangerous world, confront the temptations of forbidden love, and never once let their guard down, lest the evil undead make Lissa one of them forever...

When your whole life is about saving others, who will save you?


https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/7047941-vampire-academy




 

This is one of those books that I had been meaning to read for the longest time. I finally got around to it, and I'm so glad I did! With this novel, I was introduced to a very original vampire universe, one that I am now addicted to!  

Richelle Mead has created two races of vampires, and they are enemies, which is a very intriguing idea. The Moroi are mortal, and they do not hurt humans. They do drink blood from human 'feeders', who are more than willing to be bitten because of the euphoria thereby induced. While this struck me as somewhat creepy and even a bit masochistic, it works well for both Moroi and humans; it is a mutually beneficial symbiotic relationship between the two species. Besides, the Moroi never drain the feeders, but only take as much as they need at the moment.

The Strigoi are the evil, immortal vamps of the series. Amazingly, however, they prefer to prey on the Moroi, and have been known to even use humans as allies. There is nothing like Moroi blood to make them even stronger than they already are, so that means that the hapless Moroi are always in danger of being killed by their vampire enemies.... Just as frightening as this is another possibility -- that of being turned into a Strigoi. 

Humans can also be turned into Strigoi. Whether human or Moroi, someone who has been thus turned becomes a mindless, brutal killer, stopping  at nothing to get their prey. So it's the Strigoi who represent a real danger to both humans and the Moroi.

I loved the characters in this novel! Of course, I'm referring to the good guys, although I must say that I was very impressed with the villains. All of the people in the novel -- whether good or bad -- are very well developed, and Mead has made them so vivid, I can almost believe that they are real, living people!

Rose Hathaway, Dhampir guardian-in-training, and her charge, the Moroi princess Vasilissa ('Lissa' for short) Dragomir, are very compelling characters. They are best friends, and share a psychic bond that allows Rose to feel exactly what Lissa is feeling, at any moment. It only works in her case, though; Lissa is unable to feel Rose's feelings. 

Rose and Lissa are a study in contrasts. Lissa is 'a girly girl', always interested in things like shopping, makeup, and clothes. Rose, although undoubtedly a female, is rougher around the edges. She's bold and nearly fearless, as befits a future guardian. She's also snarky -- very snarky, in fact. Her sharp wit and bold retorts get her in trouble on more than one occasion, and she prefers learning fighting moves to shopping sprees. She's smart, energetic, and well, pretty much a total tomboy. However, she, like Lissa, has a good heart. Rose is very much interested in boys, and ends up falling for someone she shouldn't have romantic feelings for....Dimitri. Ah, Rose, you have EXCELLENT taste!

Much as I like Rose, I also like Lissa's quieter, more demure personality. She's a very sensitive, gentle person, and has a weakness for wounded and ailing animals. In fact, she possesses a very unique and rare gift -- the ability to heal. This ability comes with a price, however, and Rose is alarmed by the cost to Lissa whenever she heals someone.

Dimitri Belikov is my third totally likable character. He's Rose's trainer, and so very swoon-worthy! He has an unusual combination of gentleness and strength, discipline and fun-loving inclinations. He, too, has a good heart. Of course, he's totally attractive, mysterious, and just completely tantalizing.... His patience in teaching Rose the defensive and offensive maneuvers she will need, in her future life as a guardian, is exemplary. He is neither harsh nor cruel. Instead, he knows exactly how far to push Rose, how to get the best from her. Needless to say, it's not easy for poor Rose to work so closely with him, considering the huge crush she has on him....one that he seems to share, but is fighting, because he's her mentor. Oh, the tension and intrigue!
  
Christian and Mason are two other wonderful characters I like. They, too, are very different. Christian is a moody, brooding, loner, while Mason is totally lighthearted and funny. Christian, a  Moroi, is attracted to Lissa; Mason, a Dhampir like Rose, is attracted to her. 

These two relationships do not flow smoothly, however. Christian has a rather shady past that makes him practically an outcast in Moroi society, even though he, like Lissa, comes from a royal family. As for Mason, he has to work hard to win Rose's affections, which she would prefer to give to Dimitri, of course.

I really like the heavy Russian influence in this novel, as I love all things Russian. I especially like that some of the characters are members of the Russian Orthodox Church, attending Mass every Sunday. In fact, the boarding school where both the Moroi and their future Dhampir guardians study is named 'St. Vladimir's Academy', after a revered Russian saint who was also a healer, like Lissa. 

St. Vladimir himself plays an important, but posthumous, role in this novel, as Rose seeks to understand his life and spiritual healing gift, so she can help Lissa control her own.

I was surprised and delighted to find such an unexpectedly spiritual angle in a YA vampire novel; this was part of my enjoyment of the book. In fact, there was an emphasis on healing throughout, and very little on blood and gore, as one would expect in a novel of this type, even one in the YA genre. Mead has gained a new fan because of this!

The most wonderful thing about this novel is the relationships among all the characters, even the secondary ones. There's the typical high-school angst, of course, but there are also many heartfelt interactions, as well. There's also some very humorous dialogue -- most of it provided by Rose. 

There's some action at the beginning of the novel, when Rose and Lissa, who had run away from the Academy for reasons that become clear later on in the novel, are captured and brought back. The action also builds up toward the end of the book. In between, the author concentrates on personal conflicts among the characters, but there's also a building tension throughout, as a mystery underlies life at the Academy, and the shadow of the Strigoi seems to lurk in the background.....

Not since The Twilight Saga and the novels in L.J. Smith's Night World series have I enjoyed a YA vampire novel so much! Although there is some romance in this first book, it's not heavily focused on, and yet, I have really fallen in love with it! That's because of the vividness of the characters, as well as the situations they find themselves in, although I would add Mead's flawless storytelling skills, as well. Although the novel doesn't contain heavy action scenes, it does rivet the reader to the page. The author's prose is not embellished, but still, flows well, and she succeeds in immersing the reader in this very imaginative, even attractive fictional world.

Frostbite, the second novel in the series, is my current read, and I am enjoying it tremendously! I find myself so involved in this world, I just keep turning the pages, eager to find out more and more....

I am so very glad that I finally decided to start reading this series! I have been amply rewarded, and can't wait to read the rest of the books!


In short, I highly recommend this novel, and the entire series, as well, to anyone who loves the Young Adult Fiction genre, especially paranormal romance and urban fantasy! Richelle Mead has created a mesmerizing vampire world!

MY RATING: 
  



  
Scorpio Richelle Mead is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of urban fantasy books for both adults and teens. Originally from Michigan, Richelle now lives in Seattle, Washington where she works on her three series full-time: Georgina Kincaid, Dark Swan, and Vampire Academy.

A life-long reader, Richelle has always loved mythology and folklore. When she can actually tear herself away from books (either reading or writing them), she enjoys bad reality TV, traveling, trying interesting cocktails, and shopping for dresses. She's a self-professed coffee addict and has a passion for all things wacky and humorous.





 

2 comments:

  1. I actually just got this book myself recently! This is a great review, I'm really glad you liked it! I also have been meaning to read this for the longest time haha :P now that I already have the book I think I might be reading it soon! <3

    Lipstick and Mocha

    ReplyDelete
  2. Hi, Carla!

    I definitely recommend this book to you! I loved it!! The characters are great, and the whole world-building just amazing! Of course, I will be reading the entire series.

    I'm glad you enjoyed reading my review! Thanks for the compliment, and the nice comment!! : )

    ReplyDelete

THIS IS NOW AN AWARD-FREE, AND TAG-FREE BLOG. Thanks for the compliment, though! : )

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