Release Date: August 16, 2007
St. Vladimir’s Academy isn’t just any boarding school—it’s a hidden place where vampires are educated in the ways of magic and half-human teens train to protect them. Rose Hathaway is a Dhampir, a bodyguard for her best friend Lissa, a Moroi Vampire Princess. They’ve been on the run, but now they’re being dragged back to St. Vladimir’s—the very place where they’re most in danger...
Rose and Lissa become enmeshed in forbidden romance, the Academy’s ruthless social scene, and unspeakable nighttime rituals. But they must be careful lest the Strigoi—the world’s fiercest and most dangerous vampires—make Lissa one of them forever.(courtesy of Goodreads)
Guess what?! I'm re-reading the Vampire Academy series! When I finished the Twilight series in October 2008, I became obsessed with reading anything and everything about vampires. Vampire Academy was the first book I read. In my Twilight-rose-colored viewpoint, I thought it was decent but a little silly. It wasn't until I got further along in the series that I realized just how fabulous these books are. Once I started the Bloodlines series, I came to respect Vampire Academy even more. I've been wanting to re-read the whole series for a long time and finally got around to it.
The first book in the series isn't the best, but it is enough to suck you in. Mead does a wonderful job of establishing her version of vampire mythology in this book. You have good vampires (moroi), bad vampires (strigoi), and dhampirs (half vampires). The vampires live parallel lives of which regular humans are totally unaware. I love how fleshed out the culture is. Not only do you come away from this book with a strong idea of what a vampire is, you get a rich world with its own magic, history, education system, take on religion, royalty, and protection system. And the world only becomes more three dimensional as the series goes on.
Our Vampire Academy heroines are Rose and Lissa. Rose is a hard-headed stubborn girl whose temper gets her into trouble most of the time. But she is also extremely loyal to her friends, courageous, and an enthusiastic fighter. Her intentions are good even if her methods of getting there are often questionable. Rose is a dhampir who is bonded (which means something very specific in this series) to her best friend Lissa, a moroi. Rose's life is centered around protecting Lissa.
I was not as big a fan of Lissa in this book. It's not that I dislike her, but there was little to make me care about her. She lingers in the background, waiting for Rose to protect her. She's emotional and tends toward depression. Fragile is the best word to describe her. Luckily she does become more fleshed out in later books.
Dimitri is our leading man. He is the epitome of a forbidden romantic figure. Older, handsome, the strong and silent type. He functions as a mentor to Rose but pretty quickly becomes more. I can practically hear the tension between them crackling as I turn the pages. I love how he and Rose play off one another. Dimitri immediately recognizes Rose's potential and constantly pushes her to be better, stronger, to grow beyond her impulsiveness. Theirs is not a relationship of equals (well, it's not really a relationship at all yet) exactly, but more a relationship between people who have the potential to become equals.
The framework around which the main plot is formed is the weakest part of this book. At the heart of the book, Rose and Lissa are running from and/or trying to fight an unknown source that is hunting Lissa. That's the exciting part. They're also acclimated back at St. Vladimir's Academy. That's where things get a little annoying - it's the stereotypical mean girl high school stereotype. Rumors galore. Characters trying to outdo each other with slut-shaming. Luckily, the series gets much better and relies less on common plot tropes with each book.
Another thing I've come to love about Richelle Mead is her ability to write heart stopping passion without any physical action between the characters at all. Words alone can make my soul sing. Here's my favorite quote from the book: (spoiler! - highlight the text to see the quote)
[Dimitri]: No. If I let myself love you, I won't throw myself in front of her. I'll throw myself in front of you.
For some reason that one, innocuous statement is more romantic than any kissing scene in this book.
Vampire Academy gets off to a good start with the first book in the series. I enjoyed it on the first read. Reading it again after I've finished the whole series is even more enjoyable, especially because I know the books only get better.
Oh good god - all the feelings came rushing back after I read the highlighted text!ReplyDelete
Vampire Academy is definitely a strong beginning to the series, and the Mead's world-building is truly astounding. Great review! :)
Lyra @ Defiantly Deviant
OoOO!!! I love having timt to re-read books!! Sadly, I don't do it too often simply because of a lack of time ;(( I love this series - but not so much to reread it. I found that I love the new Bloodlines spin off much more! I think I'm still mad over the ending of the VA series...ReplyDelete
This series always pops up on my 'recommended' lists all over the place! I became a bit of a vamp fanatic after Twilight, too so I keep meaning to pick these up.ReplyDelete
Fantastic review, definitely renewed my need to read them!
RobynLeanne @ Fairytales and Folklore
You are such a good re-reader! I always mean to do it with my favorite series but they just sit on my shelf. I started VA but haven't finished it (is't over now, isn't it? With spin-offs?) so I really need to do that!ReplyDelete
I love the Vampire academy. It is such an awesome book! Loved your review :)ReplyDelete
I was so confused for a second because I could have sworn you'd read VA and then I saw you were in fact rereading it:) I love this series so much, and that quote from Dimitri? *dies* Definitely a favorite of mine as well. I was not a huge fan of Lissa in this book either, she came across a little selfish and spoiled to me at times, but she grew on me over the course of the series:) I think it might be time for me to do a reread of these books too!ReplyDelete
I'ev been wanting to read this. There is something simple yet intriging in the covers. I'm glad you enjoy the series! I will definitely be checking it out in the future! c:ReplyDelete
Amber @ Thebookpages
I'm in the minority that struck out with this book and really have no desire to read further. I couldn't get into the book at all.ReplyDelete
this is one of my most favorite books/series!ReplyDelete
I'm reading this series for the first time, but have only read this one, and that was a year and a half ago. That said, I'm really glad you reviewed it, because I think it jogged my memory enough to start Frostbite soon. Great review!ReplyDelete
Still need to read this series, myself (I think it's the hideous covers that are making me put it off so long), but I do plan on it sometime - how could I not with all the buzz and fans the series has? It's good to know that the first book is not the best in the series - I'll be sure to remind myself of this, that the series only gets better! Thanks!ReplyDelete
This book and this series alone . . . we're like this . . . *crosses fingers*. I've reread this series WAYYYYYYYYYY too many times and I've almost lost count to be honest with you. Richelle Mead is so brilliant. Anyway fab review!ReplyDelete
Love this series! I agree that the first book isn't the strongest, but the series just gets better and better as it goes on!ReplyDelete
Twilight has ruined any other vampire books for me! I try... I try... but it just isn't the same...ReplyDelete
I've never been a huge vampire person. When I first read Twilight, I liked it a lot, but didn't want to read the other books because I wanted Bella and Edward to be together, but I didn't want Bella to be a vampire. Why? Because they drink blood! I mean, it seriously grosses me out. But I didn't get over it and read the read of the Twilight books.ReplyDelete
So I've never really thought of reading Vampire Academy. But I keep hearing how great the series is, so I feel like I should give it a try.
That quote is really romantic! And Mead is so, so good at writing romance. I think that might be her strongest suit, actually, matching two people and creating such great chemistry between them. I agree with you that upon later reads, Lissa seems sort of... abandoned, in a way. The princess in the back, and because Rose is such a strong character, it's hard for Lissa to really stand out on her own. And true, the plot with VA at its forefront, the HS stereotypes that still run through the Bloodlines series--I do think those are the weakest points, and if those tropes had been abandoned, the series would have been better.ReplyDelete