Tuesday, 24 July 2012

List Review: Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead

Rating: 4/5 owl heads
Released: 16 August 2007
Goodreads | Amazon | The Book Depository

Summary (Goodreads):

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.

Richelle Mead's VAMPIRE ACADEMY is a great reminder to never judge books by their cover...or their genre. I would pass by these books in the bookstore and was always put off by the cheesy title, even as the series rapidly gained in popularity. I'm so glad to say that I was dead wrong. VAMPIRE ACADEMY is a fast-paced read that is fun and creepy in equal measure, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Here are a few reasons why.

VAMPIRE LORE: I don't know how much of Mead's vampire lore is based on real folklore and how much she has created herself, but it certainly felt fresh and was a welcome change. There are Moroi, blood-drinkers who cannot go into the sun and who live under the shadow of twelve royal Moroi families. There are dhampirs, including the protagonist Rose herself, who are the offspring of vampires and humans, giving them supernatural strength and senses while being otherwise quite ordinary.

The dhampirs and Moroi have a peaceful, mutually beneficial relationship: dhampirs become guardians of the Moroi because they need Moroi to continue their species. On the fringes of society are the Strigoi, Moroi vampires who have 'turned' or been turned and must feed on Moroi blood to survive. Mead does a great job of making the reader understand the tension between the three species and how this has trickled into the high school politics of St. Vladimir's academy, where Moroi and dhampirs are trained.

I love a good mystery, and this novel had several. Rose and Lissa (her best friend and Moroi royal), are on the run before they're caught and dragged back to St. Vladimir's. Why did they run from the safety of St. Vladimir's when Strigoi are on the loose and Lissa is the last of her line? Why is Lissa being terrorized now that they're back? Mead wraps up these mysteries neatly and in a way that contributes rather than regresses the characters' development.

A SPUNKY, MULTI-LAYERED PROTAGONIST: Rose is flippant, cocky, and aggressive. She is a heroine I think would easily be labelled as 'strong' - a good fighter who is confident in her skills and her looks. But I too often find that authors make the mistake of equating 'strong' protagonists with physical strength. All the skill in the world won't make for a protagonist that lacks in complexity and humanity, and Mead really delivers. For all of Rose's recklessness, she is utterly serious about her role as Lissa's guardian and shows unwavering loyalty to her friends.

A TRULY FORBIDDEN ROMANCE: I'm a sucker for forbidden anything. And not just "you're vampire and I'm human and it can never be", because that's not good enough for me. There's an awkward age gap between Rose and her crush, Dmitri, but what works so well is the fact that they are both guardians. I won't expand any further because of spoilers, but when there is real, painful choice to be made between characters; when choosing romance conflicts with something else they want desperately or know must be done, that's when I yearn for them to be together and feel that ache. The odds must feel insurmountable, and in VAMPIRE ACADEMY, they really do.

I loved VAMPIRE ACADEMY and will definitely be continuing the series. If I were to criticize something it would be the writing, which I found awkward and unpolished at times, but it definitely didn't detract from my enjoyment of the story, and here's hoping it gets better as the series continues. If you're like me and have been holding out, give this a chance! This is the perfect summer beach read.


  1. *sigh* I simply love Rose and Dimitri and Vampire Academy in general.

    Teresa @ Readers Live A Thousand Lives

    1. I'm really loving them so far too!! :) Glad to have finally jumped on the bandwagon.

  2. Woohoo. So glad you enjoyed it!

    And these books only get better. You just watch. Dimitri and Rose really take forbidden romance to a whole new level.

    What I love about Richelle is her talent to write such different heroines. Because in Bloodlines, the spin off series which is set in the same world, the heroine is totally opposite to Rose in that her strength is intellectual. And there are several forbidden romances there as well, haha.

    Btw, I am a sucker for a forbidden romance too!

    Awesome review, Lauren :)

    1. Oh gosh, I now know what you mean by taking forbidden romance to a whole new level. So much heartbreak!!! Loving it so far!

      So good to hear that Mead wrote a completely different heroine! Really excited to read Bloodlines as well and see how she compares. I can't wait to see how much crossover there is with Rose and the gang. Thanks, Jen!

  3. Yeeeeees... I passed on these for so long and now I finally understand the hype! I'm psyched for you to join us tomorrow for summer school!

    1. I totally get it now too! Thanks for having me, I can't wait to hear what you think of the next few books. :) So excited to go through the series with other people!

  4. Yay, so glad you loved it! I was gonna say exactly what Jennifer said: these books get BETTER. Prepare for awesomeness. ;) I love Rose's strength. Awesome review as always, L. :)

    1. Omg, better sounds impossible at this point!!! Cannot wait to see what Mead has up her sleeve. Am already starting to pick sides and once I'm caught up I want to know what you think, A!

  5. Yay-- welcome to summer school! I'm about to go to the airport but when I'm home I'll add your link to my post. Steph forgot to tell me you were joining us!!

    1. Thank you! I'm stoked to be joining; what a fun idea! Will go check out your Blood Promise post now.

  6. Yay-- welcome to summer school! I'm about to go to the airport but when I'm home I'll add your link to my post. Steph forgot to tell me you were joining us!!


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