Genre: Young Adult Paranormal
Series: Vampire Academy #1
Source: Gifted from a friend who I will be forever grateful to!
Lissa Dragomir is a mortal vampire.
She must be protected at all times from the fiercest and most dangerous vampires of all – the ones who will never die.
Rose Hathaway is Lissa’s best friend – and her bodyguard.
Now after two years of illicit freedom, they’ve been dragged back inside the iron gates of St. Vladimir’s Academy. The girls must survive in a world of forbidden romances, a ruthless social scene and terrifying night-time rituals.
But above all, they must never let their guard down, lest the immortal vampires take Lissa – forever…
Yes, I know that “Vampire Academy” is a crappy, ridiculous title that makes you roll your eyes and want to move on immediately and I know that they’re advertising the movie as “Mean Girls…but with VAMPIRES!” but forget all that. This is a legitimately great series.
First of all, the vampires, called the Moroi, are basically mages. Physically weak magic-users, who need blood to supplement their diet and become sickened in sunlight. Making vampires physically vulnerable is a fresh, creative move.
The other type of vampires in the series, the Strigoi, definitely don’t sparkle. They’re strong, soulless and insatiable. Actually scary and threatening.
Then enter the really brilliant aspect of the series. The Moroi basically use their bastard, half-human children as bodyguards against the Strigoi. Moroi no longer intermarry with humans, but have plenty of liaisons with the hardy half-human dhampirs, their bodyguards and mistresses.
This leads to some really intriguing questions and plenty of societal tension. The world-building is superb, especially considering that the Moroi society exists as a subset of our own modern world. The juxtaposition is fascinating.
So in this world, we follow the adventures of Rose Hathaway, feisty and strong-willed heroine, whose only goal in life is to be assigned s a guardian to her best friend, the Moroi princess Lissa Dragomir.
Rose is the perfect guide through this world. She is honest and witty but full of genuine heart. The relationship between Rose and Lissa is wonderful. Young Adult as a genre is usually so focused on romance that developing strong friendships often takes a backseat, but that is definitely not the case here. Lissa is the last of her family line, and has magical abilities that manifest as a rare, unpredictable element that causes her mental instability. Rose’s fierce devotion to Lissa drives the plot and invests the reader emotionally.
“Lissa and I had been friends ever since kindergarten, when our teacher had paired us up together for writing lessons. Forcing five-year-olds to spell Vasilisa Dragomir and Rosemarie Hathaway was beyond cruel, and we’d—or rather, I’d—responded appropriately. I’d chucked my book at out teacher and called her a fascist bastard. I hadn’t known what those words meant, but I’d known how to hit a moving target.
Lissa and I had been inseparable ever since.”
The author has developed an interesting method of dual-narration. Part of Lissa’s strange magical abilities include a mysterious link between the two girls. Rose can feel Lissa’s emotions, and sometimes even slip into her head. We get to see Lissa’s struggles and experiences firsthand, and she grapples with the legacy of her family line and her strange powers.
There is still romance, but it is believable and well-balanced. Rose becomes enamored of her older mentor. They complement each other beautifully, but there are real problems standing in their way. Dimitri is also a dhampir, a guardian, and a guardian must always put their Moroi charge first. With Rose and Dimitri both poised to both poised to become Lissa’s guardians,
“If I let myself love you, I won’t throw myself in front of her. I’ll throw myself in front of you.”
Lissa, for her part, develops a connection with another orphaned royal, the outcast Christian Ozera, whose parents voluntarily became Strigoi. His character is entertaining and intriguing.
Rose’s narration is really what I love most about the series. It’s engaging, genuine and highly entertaining.
“And than suddenly he was there, charging down the hallway like death in a cowboy duster.”
Give this one a try. I was lucky enough to be given a copy. Otherwise it probably would have been just another book on my miles-long “might-read-this-one-day” list. Don’t judge a book by its name.
Oh! I forgot to put this in my review earlier, but basically the entire album “Tear The World Down” by “We Are The Fallen” mirrors the VA series perfectly. ESPECIALLY this song:
So if you love this series as much as I do, give it a listen! 🙂