Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead
Series: Vampire Academy, #1
Published: 2013, Razorbill (Originally 2007)
Genre: Young Adult Paranormal
Only a true best friend can protect you from your immortal enemies.
Rose and Lissa have adjusted to life on the road as much as could be expected for two teen girls being hunted by vampires can be. Nearly a year ago they fled their academy without warning, but as the last of her line and of a royal lineage to boot, the academy’s forces have been searching for them. The academy isn’t the only danger present to Rose and Lissa, however; the undead vampires, known as Strigoi, are always seeking out Lissa’s kind.
For Lissa is a Moroi, a full-blooded vampire. And Rose is known as a dhampir, a half-vampire, half-human being whose main purpose is to protect the Moroi. Although they haven’t gone through any formal ceremony, Rose has bonded herself to Lissa, considering herself to be Lissa’s de facto guardian.
Rose thinks she’s got things under control until they find themselves at a stalemate with another dhampir from their academy, and soon the two girls are being brought back to their “home,” the place where they’re trained and kept safe from the Strigoi. But they left St. Vladimir's Academy for a reason, and Rose is no longer convinced being there will keep Lissa safe.
I’m first going to address the elephant in the room: I actually enjoyed reading Richelle Mead’s Vampire Academy. From my perspective, it seems like a lot of people loved reading this series when it first published, and that people who’ve wanted to jump on the bandwagon recently haven’t liked it as much as they’d hoped. Because of this, I went into this book with middling expectations, and I found myself to be pleasantly surprised.
The strongest element by far of Vampire Academy is its portrayal of Rose and Lissa’s friendship. Any novel written for a teenage audience that promotes friendship more than romance gains some major points from me, and this is no different.
Ever since Lissa’s parents and brother were murdered, Rose has been all that Lissa has had. And an absentee mother and father never in the picture means that Lissa is all Rose has. Both girls struggle with their fair share of insecurities and issues, but they are also each other’s strongest supporters. Their friendship is in no way perfect, but even with its imperfections it is refreshing to read about friends who help empower each other.
Outside of Rose, however, I could take or leave most of the characters and their characterizations. Rose isn’t always the most likable character at times; she’s cocky, overly competitive, impulsive, and oh-so-very flawed. But she’s also relatable and three-dimensional in a way that felt lacking with everyone else, most notably Lissa.
Even after having finished this novel, there’s little I can say about Lissa other than that she is physically beautiful and compassionate to a fault. Seriously. For a person who inspires such a passion and purpose in Rose’s life, Lissa is just rather...bland. Although I will say the resolution regarding Lissa’s special Moroi skills (or lack thereof) has left me intrigued.
The story itself isn’t anything especially unique; it takes place in a boarding school, after all, and centers around lots of high-school level intrigue (and some a bit more advanced) as well as the challenges of being a paranormal being.
Mead may not break any new ground in Vampire Academy (at least, not from my perspective, reading the novel more than seven years after its publication), but through Rose she has created an entertaining protagonist and Rose and Lissa’s devotion to one another is wonderful. For those who haven’t read this one yet and are interested in a quick and fun paranormal story that doesn’t necessarily bring anything new to the genre, this may be worth considering.
Rating: 3 stars