Sunday, May 4, 2014

#20 [2014/CBR6] "Vampire Academy" by Richelle Mead

I've fallen drastically behind on all the fluff books I read during vacation. The list of books I need to review is now large enough that I don't even want to get started. Unfortunately, my strong tendency toward procrastination is not helping the situation. So, I'm trying to force myself to simply get started, whether I can barely remember the book or not.

I read Vampire Academy (2007) by Richelle Mead after hearing about it from some Cannonballers and thinking that it sounded like a fun read. And for the most part it was quick and entertaining. Sure, it sometimes made me feel old. I thought that Rose was sometimes a bad role model, acting like a "mean girl" without remorse, but on the whole I enjoyed it.

There's a lot of teen vampire books out there, and in this one Mead switches things up by creating three different types of vampires. The Strigoi are the fiercest and most dangerous. These are vampires who lost their souls by killing a human while feeding on them. The Strigoi are in constant battle with the Moroi and the Dhampirs. Moroi are pure vampires and the ruling class while the Dhampir are half Moroi and half Dhampir. Dhampirs cannot have children together, so Moroi are required for their continued existence. Dhampirs do not have the same powers of the Moroi, but they are quick and powerful and make for good bodyguards.

And that brings us to the story. Rose Hathaway is a Dhampir with an intense connection to Lissa, a Moroi Vampire princess. Although they are both in high school, Rose acts as Lissa's protector and bodyguard. In addition to the normal high school drama, Lissa is struggling with her own demons as well as someone who is deliberately harassing her. Rose is also distracted by a deep attraction to another Dhampir, Dimitri, who is Lissa's official bodyguard and Rose's trainer. This attraction is taboo because Dimitri is in his early 20's and is, officially, a teacher.

This book went by quickly and was easy to read. I liked that the bodyguard character was a high school girl and not a burly man. I also liked that Rose was so totally devoted and loyal to her friend. She wasn't perfect but was consistently aggressive when dealing with anything that crossed her path. On the other hand, Rose sometimes acted in ways that really bothered me, without any self reflection or realization. She lied to her best friend, and she pretended to like a guy just to manipulate him into doing something for her. Each time, she said that she felt a little guilty, but that was it. I didn't want kids reading this book and thinking that her behavior was something to emulate. Her relationship with Dimitri was also a little troubling. On the one hand, I loved Dimitri and wanted Rose to hook up with him. And then I remembered that Rose is sixteen and in high school. And then I got grossed out. Mead rode a fine line with that relationship, and I had mixed feelings about it.

As far as the plot goes, the dead animals and the threatening messages weren't really necessary once I found out the whole mystery. It added some excitement and danger, but looking back it didn't really make sense. There was some mental illness thrown in at the end of the book that felt more like a "teaching moment" than anything else.

On the whole, this was an entertaining book with a couple of problems. I'm not sure if the movie is any good, but I'm interested enough to see what they did with it. It could be fun. And even though I'm not itching to read any more in this series, I might get around to them eventually.

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