Book review: Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead

Vampire Academy

Title: Vampire Academy

Author: Richelle Mead

Genre: YA, paranormal, romance

Publisher: Razorbill

Publication Date: August 2007

Paperback: 332

Stand alone or series: First in a series

How did I get this book: Bought

I’ve spent the day (I finished VA this morning) trying to figure out whether I liked this book or not, and I’ve just decided to say how I felt right when I finished: I both like and don’t like this book. There are things that I really liked about VA and then there are other things that I really didn’t. Let me try to tell you what I mean.

Let’s start with a brief synopsis (from the book jacket):

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. Vladmir’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 Lisa 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…

What I thought:

So I chose to use the summary from the book jacket instead of writing my own because I think it really gives you a good idea, pretty much the whole idea, of what the book is about. It does a good job at summarizing the story, so I figured I’d just go with that.

I want to start with the things I really liked about the novel: the plot and the ideas behind the different types of vampires. The plot is pretty interesting. You’ve got a vampire princess who, along with her ‘guardian’, slip out of a super protected fortress school, but are dragged back. Once there, they’re dropped back into the social scene of a school full of vampires, which has changed slightly from the way they knew it. There’s a crazy, spiteful vampire named Mia who has taken over Lissa’s position, along with her ex-boyfriend Aaron. Rose has a new, older guardian named Dmitri giving her extra lessons to try to catch up with the other novice guardians. We’ve got a creepy but also sweet outcast named Christian who sparks an interest in Lissa. It’s a somewhat typical, drama filled high school story, but then there’s vampires and sort-of-superpowers and queens and dead birds showing up, and you know it’s not so typical. Pretty cool plot. Then add in the way that the queen/king is chosen in this world: the current queen/king chooses their successor from among several other royal families but is not allowed to choose their own offspring for the role. The plot moved along at a decent pace, so my attention was kept the whole time. There was a fair amount of action and generally interesting happenings (dead animals, people being lit on fire, you know, happenings). Additionally, Mead’s writing style wasn’t all that bad, so that’s another plus.

I love vampire stories. Like, a lot. Well, except that really well-known one about some Mary Sue and her creepy, sparkly vampire boyfriend; you know the one. But new takes on the vampire origin/history are one thing I really enjoy, so the different types of vampires in this novel were fascinating. You’ve got the Moroi, the Strigoi, and the Dhampir. The Moroi are vampires, but they’re mortal and they have an affinity for harnessing one of the elements. The Strigoi are pretty typical vampires: they feed on blood, are extremely sensitive to sunlight, and want to kill people. However, the way they become vampires is sort of different; they can be bitten by another to turn, but they can also be a Moroi and drain another vampire/human/Dhampir of blood until they die to turn. Then you’ve got Dhampirs: the offspring of a Moroi and a human trained to protect the Moroi; they don’t feed on blood, have no powers, but do have increased strength and are generally badass. Cool, huh?

I also really liked Christian: outcast, creep, but all-around sweetheart. He’s an outsider at St. Vladimir’s because of his parents’ conscious decision to turn Strigoi, but after Lissa returns, they start to develop a really sweet little romance. He’s dark and brooding and a loner, but he becomes softer when Lissa is around. Their romance was one of my favorite things in the book. It felt realistic and was adorable. I was definitely rooting for them.

So now I need to talk about the things I didn’t like.

Rose is an asshole. I’m sorry for the language, but in my opinion, that is the best way to describe her. She’s so extremely shallow. Here’s two of the things she says about herself:

I knew I was pretty, but to Moroi boys, my body was more than just pretty: it was sexy in a risqué way. – Page 51
I knew perfectly well that there weren’t a lot of girls at this school who looked as good in a bra as I did. – Page 121

If she’d just said something like this once or twice, I think I could have handled it, but she talked about how hot she was several times. SEVERAL. But it wasn’t just when she was talking about herself (which she did a lot). Her ‘romance’ with Dmitri, her older (by seven years – totally illegal) guardian mentor, was super shallow as well. Like, holy crap. I definitely could not handle them. To me, the only reason there was a romance here was because they were both ‘hot’. In fact, after denying his feelings for Rose for a while, he kind of admits to it, but even says it’s partly because of her body. I just didn’t feel their romance at all. If you could even call it a romance. Near the end of the book there is a short little justification for their feelings for each other, but it is only briefly mentioned and didn’t give me any more reason to believe in their pairing. It was weird, awkward, and forced.

Rose is the type of girl who would date someone just because of how hot he was (e.g. Jesse). I also think that Rose was really bitchy and mean just to be mean. She totally destroys the burgeoning romance between Lissa, who is supposed to be her best friend, and Christian. And just because she was jealous; Christian is taking up Lissa’s time, so let’s destroy him, even though Lissa obviously really likes him.

She tried so hard to be the fierce, independent, badass character, and while she is pretty badass (I mean, she’d totally kick my ass), she wasn’t exactly the strong, independent woman I strive to be every day. I will say that she was rather funny at times, and I did like her sarcasm. I found myself continuing to read to find out what stupid thing she was going to get into next, which I’m not sure is a plus or negative.

I think this novel was just a bit too immature for me. Please don’t take this the wrong way if you loved it. I’m not trying to insult anyone. This was just firmly in the TEEN genre for me. I’ve heard later books in the series get better, so maybe I’ll have to see about that. I don’t see myself buying any of the others, but I might check them out from the library.

I can’t believe I’m about to say this, but I think I prefer the movie version of this book (which I saw in theaters). At any rate, I preferred movie-Rose to book-Rose. I am glad that I watched the movie before I read this book, and therefore had movie-Rose’s voice/looks/actual humor in my head while reading it, because had I not seen the movie, I think I would have seriously hated book-Rose. Being able to have the fully-developed characters from the movie in my head allowed me to fill out the characters in the book.

The bottom line:

This book was very readable, but its main character/narrator was obnoxious. There were things I liked and things I didn’t, though I did want to keep reading. I have mixed feelings about it, but I’d say it is worth a shot to any fans of vampire stories, school stories, and female leads.

Rating: 6 – Good, but not great

Have you read Vampire Academy? What did you think? I’d love to hear your opinion; don’t be afraid to comment if it’s different than mine!

Reading next: Gone by Michael Grant – yay for the first on my Bout of Books list!


8 thoughts on “Book review: Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead

  1. What a great review. I love how you break it all down and explain yourself (my reviews are so incoherent LOL). I have been skating around this series but decided this morning to just forego reading them. Maybe I’ll see the movie instead. Ps. “Mary Sue and her sparkly boyfriend” had me rolling. Too funny!!!

  2. I thought Rose was pretty full of herself 😛 Wasn’t sure how I felt about hers and Dimitri’s relationship, either… I haven’t seen the VA movie yet, but I want to! I did really like the book, though. Haven’t gotten around to Frostbite yet, but it’s on my shelf 😀

  3. I had a similar reaction, though I love Rose/Dimitri. ^_^ I saw the movie first and probably wouldn’t have got through the first book otherwise. Frostbite is a definite step up and I’d recommend you read it before giving up on the series entirely!

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