by Richelle Mead
Series: Vampire Academy #1
Published on August 16, 2007 by Razorbill
Genres: Paranormal, Young Adult
ONLY A TRUE BEST FRIEND CAN PROTECT YOU FROM YOUR IMMORTAL ENEMIES...
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 who 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...
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What can I say about this book that isn’t praise? It’s hard because I fell in love from the opening line through to the end, devouring one page after the next. This has been my first meeting with Mead’s writing and I have to say that I. Am. A. Fan. A paranormal story that isn’t over the top combined with characters both memorable has left me in need of more (though thankfully I don’t have to wait long since the sequel is already out).
Vampire Academy is a story of friendship as told by Rose Hathaway, a dhampir and best friend to a Moroi and her hopeful future charge, Lissa. After being dragged back to their former (high) school, everything seems like it’s back to the standard academic routine until WHAM, someone has it out for Lissa and not just in the social circles.
Rose is headstrong. Reckless. Brave. Stubborn. She’s everything you could want in a strong female character. At seventeen, she has a knack not just for trouble but at protecting Lissa better than anyone else because they share more than just a bond of friendship. I love her character’s voice. If I had to pick from a line-up of writing samples, I’d immediately know which was Rose and that, to me, pushes this book above others in the genre. Plus, she’s a fun character to read about. Her decisions war between protecting Lissa and doing what she wants, with the former usually winning out.
Then there’s Dimitri and damn, Comrade. This Russian Guardian and Rose’s mentor is definitely climbing the ranks of fictional guys I wish were real. Where Rose is loud and rearing to go with a flip of emotions, Dimitri is reserved and quiet, a young man of few words and a godlike status out in the field. They balance, and though their scenes together aren’t as frequent until near the ending of this book, you can definitely tell Mead has more in store for these two.
As for Lissa, I liked her. I didn’t love her. She ranged from calm and almost meek to poised and snobby to weak and helpless. I love their friendship more than I did her character as an individual.
What first hooked me about Vampire Academy was Rose’s voice but the story made me stay. It’s fast-paced and riddled with the gossip drama of high school with a larger overarching mystery. Now the HS dram might not be for all, but especially for readers of the same age, it’s definitely relatable. I can’t recall how many times I watched the rumor mills go nuts over the smallest thing, and add the children of royals in this society into the mix? The drama is unavoidable. Yet Mead left that to feed the mystery of who wants to upset Lissa (and is doing so in such a horrifying manner).
I wasn’t ready for the twist. Some of the reveals I felt suitably prepared for, with enough foreshadowing to make guessing the outcome relatively easy. But the big ending? So wasn’t ready for that and it really gave this book an ending that both offered closure but left plenty open to continue the stories of these characters.
I’ll definitely be continuing this series and hope to see more of Rose and Dimitri. There’s no doubt in my mind that they have plenty of adventures awaiting them.