Tuesday 7 December 2010

Book review : Vampire Academy (Book 1) - Richelle Mead

****Don't miss my giveaway here to win the whole set of Vampire Academy books ! ****

Sometimes, books and films get so overpublicised and hyped up on release that I end up totally avoiding them because I'm worried they'll never live up to all the buzz that's been created about them. It happened with Dan Brown and it happened again with Twilight, two highly mediatised successes that I totally shunned. In fact, the whole "paranormal romance" thing has totally passed me by, so when I was asked if I'd like to review the Vampire Academies books, I came to them with a completely open mind and no idea what I'd find.

If, like me, you haven't yet been swept up in the whole wave of modern-day vampire tales that seemed to start with Buffy the Vampire Slayer, it might all seem a bit complicated so I'll try to give you a few explanations.

This first episode of the Vampire Academies series, called simply Vampire Academies, tells the story of 17-year-old Rosemarie Hathaway, commonly known as Rose, who is a Dhampir. For the uninitiated, that's a half-breed vampire, with one human and one vampire parent. If that wasn't complicated enough, her best friend Vasilisa "Lissa" Dragomir is a Moroi (which is a mortal vampire who can use elemental magic) princess. Are you following this ?! As Morois can be killed, they are attributed a Dhampir guardian to protect them - and Rose is training to be Lissa's Guardian. There is also a third group, the Strigois, who are basically the bad guy vampires.

Despite their fantastical birth heritage, in many ways the girls are just normal teens, trying to fit in with the other students at St Vladimir's Academy boarding school afer being on the run for two years. Insults, boyfriend trouble and bitchiness are as much a problem for vampire teens as normal teens, so it seems ! I found this balance of realism/normal teen life and fantastical vampire characters worked really well, as you could really relate to the narrator, despite her otherwordliness. At times, it reminded me of a mixture of Harry Potter and Waterloo Road !

Rose is the central character and the book is told from her point of view, but she has a psychic bond with Lissa which means that she can see and feel things that her friend thinks and experiences so it's like getting a two-for-the-price-of-one narrator ! The girls go through a lot of normal teen angst but things do get a bit bleak sometimes, with dead animals being left in people's rooms, depression and self-harming incidents. There are a few sex scenes too so, although there's nothing really explicit, you wouldn't want to give this to your impressionable young daughters.

You could read this as a stand-alone novel, but I did get the feeling that this book was doing the groundwork for the rest of the series, with plot slightly taking a backseat to character background. Several plotlines were left undeveloped and I'm pretty sure they'll come back in later episodes. Now that I've got my head around who is who and how all these different types of vampires fit together, I really want to read on and see what happens next.

star rating : 4/5

RRP : 6.99

Paperback: 336 pages

Publisher: Puffin (28 Aug 2008)
Language English
ISBN-10: 159514174X
ISBN-13: 978-1595141743
Product Dimensions: 20.4 x 14.4 x 2.3 cm

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  1. Thanks for the review. This book is on my side table, waiting to be read.

  2. It was really that good? I've never really fancied this series before and I have no idea why =S so you recommend it then? I really should read them since everyone keeps telling me too! Great review btw!



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