Bloodlines by Richelle MeadAugust 23, 2011; Razorbill
When alchemist Sydney is ordered into hiding to protect the life of Moroi princess Jill Dragomir, the last place she expects to be sent is a human private school in Palm Springs, California. But at their new school, the drama is only just beginning.
Populated with new faces as well as familiar ones, Bloodlines explores all the friendship, romance, battles and betrayals that made the #1 New York Times bestselling Vampire Academy series so addictive - this time in a part-vampire, part-human setting where the stakes are even higher and everyone's out for blood. (courtesy of Goodreads)
Wow! That's my review of Bloodlines. As a huge Vampire Academy fan, I was eagerly awaiting the release of the first book of the companion series. Not only do I think Bloodlines lives up to Vampire Academy, but I think it may be better!
The chief reason for that is Sydney. I love Rose as a narrator. I love her boldness, her aggressiveness, her passion, her loyalty. But those qualities make her difficult to relate to. Sydney is a lot more like me. Cautious, thoughtful, ambitious, responsible, subdued, self-conscious. The little we learned of Sydney in Vampire Academy makes much more sense now. She is the product of an overbearing father and can never measure up to his unrealistic expectations. But she still wants to live up to them. I wanted to shake her low self-esteem out of her at times, but her inferiority complex fit perfectly with her upbringing. I loved how Sydney was cautiously open-minded. She's been taught her whole life that dhampirs and moroi are an abomination. Knowing these people in real life, she's willing to change her views but it's a gradual process. She's also proud, stubborn, and holds grudges (when justified). She places other's needs above her own. That's an alchemist's job, but it's also Sydney's personality.
Another main reason is Adrian. Yay Adrian! If you liked Adrian in Vampire Academy (and who didn't?), you will adore him in Bloodlines. He's irresponsible, impulsive, reckless. It would be easy to hate him if he wasn't also thoughtful, intuitive, hilariously sarcastic, and generally swoon-worthy. It is so wonderful to see him away from Rose. Like Sydney, Adrian needs the opportunity to escape from the image and pressure his family and friends have always foisted upon him. Adrian grows in this book toward a person who is not just a fun guy but to someone who is becoming a truly good, solid man. I can't wait to see where he goes from here.
Bloodlines is not as chock-full of fighting and action as most of the Vampire Academy novels. I didn't miss the action at all. Mead manages to keep the novel flowing smoothly. There's a lot of background information to learn. I felt like the world-building of Alchemist society was a bit underdone, although there was enough information for a first book. I don't entirely get the society. On the bright side, there was never an info dump. Even without action, there were plot devices and character developments that left me gasping. Some in horror, some in shock, and some in delight. The book ended at a fabulous point. Bloodlines formed a complete book whose main plot was summed up at its end. But there were interesting bits introduced in the book that will surely be explained more in later books and the novel ended not with a cliffhanger per se, but at a point that left me dying to read the next book.
Unlike most of Mead's books, there is very little romance in Bloodlines. But what is there is done perfectly. I wish more authors understood how sexy even the most subtle possibilities of a relationship can be if written well.
Bloodlines is a companion series to Vampire Academy. Can you read Bloodlines if you haven't read Vampire Academy? I hesitantly answer yes, but you shouldn't. Bloodlines is a story unto itself. If you're new to the Vampire Academy universe, you'll learn enough about the vampire lore and the individual characters to mostly follow the book. However, Bloodlines assumes that you are already familiar with the entire Vampire Academy series. It begins soon after Last Sacrifice ends. It fully reveals the conclusion to the last book. While it does give some background information, the reader isn't coddled. You'll know what's going on, but you won't really get it unless you've read Vampire Academy. Plus, you won't form the relationships with the characters that are essential to appreciating these books.
If you enjoyed the Vampire Academy books, you must read Bloodlines. It is a perfect start to a new series. Perhaps better than its sister series! If you haven't read Vampire Academy yet, read the entire series and then pick up Bloodlines.