Thursday, August 8, 2013

Review: Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead

Vampire Academy (Vampire Academy #1) by Richelle Mead
- 5 of 5 stars

Release Date: August 16, 2007
Genre: Young Adult, Paranormal

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.

The first book in the series follows two girls, Rosemarie (Rose) Hathaway and Vasilisa (Lissa) Dragomir, who have been best friends since kindergarten. The book begins by showing the recapture of the two young fugitives and their forced return to, you guessed it, high school. But not just any high school. Their vampire high school where Lissa is full-blood vampire royalty and Rose, a dhampir (half-vampire) is being trained as her guardian.

It took literally years for me to be able to pick up this book and actually give it a fair chance. As Emily has already mentioned, my feelings about Twilight are very strong and not very positive so, even though these books were recommended to me by one of the most intelligent and well-read people my age probably ever (Hermione, anyone?) I didn’t give the books a shot until very recently. Let this serve as my public and sincere apology. Emily, you were right. Vampire Academy is fantastic. I was struck with Richelle’s ability to accurately portray the emotions that teenage girls deal with on a daily basis. The fact that Rose actually has to deal with real problems makes this book even more remarkable. I think people forget that, while teenage girls deal with their fair share of drama and problems growing up, they deal with real issues, too. This book validates the idea that you really have no idea what someone else is going through and you have to be able to be compassionate and understanding. Since it was only the first book, the level of character development is  limited, which is kind of the point of having a series anyway. The book deals with emotional and physical issues that adults and other young adults try to belittle to make their own problems seem more important.

That being said, Dimitri is one smokin’ hot Russian. Oh, man. That description. I always love the way men are described in young adult novels because the reader is granted permission to completely ignore the imperfections in men. The novels focus on female characters exploring their flaws and their ability to grow, but they also focus on the male characters growing and reacting perfectly to the female growth. While entirely unrealistic, it is so nice to read a story that really is all about the female main character. Ah, if only life could be so sweet.

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