Book Review: Vampire Academy (Richelle Mead)

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Plot:
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. Vladimir’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 Lissa 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 . .

Rating: 7/10

I mean, just look at that plot line. Who wouldn’t want to read that? I had a lot of fun, and admitting it probably means flushing my good name down the toilet. Well, I liked it. It has obvious questionable plot lines. The class system is outrageous and wouldn’t hold up anywhere. Then there is that little fact that Dimitri, regardless of his hot-cakiness, is much older than Rose and shouldn’t have lost his job and then faced prosecution. It is also probably everybody’s worst nightmares to have someone be able to read your mind constantly. Eugh. I would be in so much trouble.

Despite all these little things, the book is great. It is light reading and really a book for teens, but it has great pace and ends interestingly enough to make you want to pick up the second book. If they truly followed the book in the movie and given it a darker edge I think the movie wouldn’t have failed quite as spectacularly.

Although definitely not for everyone, Vampire Academy is so much fun. I recommend you read it if you enjoy vampire books.

Movie Review: Vampire Academy (2014)

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Rose Hathaway (Zoey Deutch) and Lissa Dragomir (Lucy Fry) are best friends that escaped from St. Vladimir’s Academy, or Vampire Academy, when Lissa felt unsafe. They are eventually caught and taken back to school by one of the Guardians, Dimitri Belikov (Danila Kozlovsky), who becomes one of Rose’s teachers and the guy she falls for.

I went in fangirl mode to watch Vampire Academy on Saturday night and I have never been more disappointed. VA is officially the standard now for horrible book to movie adaptions.

Rating: 5.5/10

What I liked:

For most parts, the movie stuck to the book relatively close.

The class rooms and training arenas were well done.

Rose’s eyes (although it is not in the book) – when she sees into Lissa’s mind. Looked pretty cool.

The fight scenes were amazingly well done – surprisingly so in comparison to the quality of the rest of the movie.

Casting of: Rose (Zoey Deutch), Dimitri (Danila Kozlovsky), Victor Dashkov (Gabriel Byrne), Natalie Dashkov (Sarah Hyland), Christian Ozera (Dominic Sherwood), Mason (Cameron Monaghan), Sonya Karp (Claire Foy)

Zoey Deutch really did the Rose Hathaway attitude well. She looks the part, she played the part and I loved her outfits all around.

Danila Kozlovsky as Dimitri Belikov: Wow. Just wow. I would give him an 8/10 for correct character casting and portrayal. At least they got a real Russian to play him and didn’t attempt some horrible accent changing thing.

Girl Power: The girls in the movie kicks ass and can take care of themselves. It is what I loved about the books too, and I am glad they didn’t want to change either of the leading females to whining brats.

What I didn’t like:

It was like the Twilight-meets-Harry Potter-meets-Mean Girls movie. The OPENING scenes are similar to all those trees in Twilight, the castle shots look like they were taken at Hogwarts and the constant bitching and sarky remarks were right out of Mean Girls. Does Mark Waters only know how to direct one type of movie?

It felt like the movie was rushed. Don’t give me nonsense about a shoe string budgets – plenty franchises’ first instalments were made on tiny budgets and did wonderful – like Twilight, which for all its faults had decent directing.

The soundtrack: The opening song bombs the movie from the get go, and it never fully recovers.

Nothing was properly explained. The series has a lot of new lore to explain and it was rushed over. People who haven’t read the books won’t even begin to understand what is happening in the movie.

Underused characters: Christian and Mason were really well cast but Christian became a vapid pretty boy – this is the guy whose parents turned into evil monsters and has lived under the scandal that it caused his entire life. He is not the pretty little man who easily became a devoted pet to either Rose or Lissa. Mason did really well. He is one of the few who acted decently and showed some depth, but he wasn’t used all that much.

Rose and Dimitri’s love story. So much was left out – all the signs that he is secretly in love with her just wasn’t there. They had so much more to offer. It is also never fully explained why he is training her individually.

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*At least one of the scenes were done right.

Lissa knowing about Dimitri and Rose – WTF she only finds out when Rose leaves St. Vladimir’s to hunt Dimitri down later on.

Kirova being portrayed as underhanded. She has always struck me as a fair disciplinarian who is irritated with Rose’s constant rule breaking.

Mia Renaldi (Sami Gayle): I see the curly ringlets were thrown out, but the actress at least did a decent job.

Lissa and Rose just TELLING Natalie what is going on in their lives. The Spirit, the Bond – those are SECRETS dammit.

The compulsion looks fake.

The fire scene where Christian sets Ralf Sarkozy on fire. IT.WAS.SO.FAKE.

Sonya Karp being some of the Strigoi that wants to attack the school. Just no. She enters much later on with another purpose.

Lucy Fry as Vasalisa Dragomir: What accent was she playing at? It seemed like a very bad mix of British and Australian. Those two shouldn’t be mixed. She seemed very immature and selfish one moment and very adult and wise at other times. The character didn’t match up and neither did she come close to what Lissa is in the books.

Conclusion:

Fire the director and screen writer. I’ve always thought the books would make an excellent TV series, not movies, because let’s face it: Taking six books and hoping they will all make it to cinema is ridiculous unless it’s Harry Potter. Stop trying to make the franchise what it isn’t. Make it more dark and sexy and not so damn PG rated.

And once again, Fire the director.

Book Review: The Last Sacrifice (Richelle Mead)

Book: 62/100

Richelle Mead - Vampire Academy Last Sacrifice

Rose Hathaway has been framed for the murder of the Moroi Queen, Tatiana Ivashkov. She has damning evidence against her – the Queen was murdered with Rose’s own stake after Rose threatened her before the entire Moroi Royal Court. Set for trial and a definite execution, she relies on her father, the shady Abe Mazur, to get her out. He manages to buy more time for his investigation by enabling her to escape from jail, with the help of her friends, and her current and former boyfriends, Adrian Ivashkov and Dimitri Belikov, the Dhampir who was forced to turn into a Strigoi and then returned to his Dhampir form by Lissa, a Spirit user and Rose’s best friend. Dimitri runs away with her, because he is the one already under suspicion, and clears her other friends. They meet up with Sydney Sage, a friend of Rose who is an Alchemist, people working to keep the supernatural world secret. They go to a remote location to hide while Abe clears Rose’s name, but she isn’t content to just sit and wait. She tells them the letter she received – a letter by Tatiana herself, telling Rose that Lissa has an illegitimate family member somewhere. This crucial information means that Lissa can run in the election for the next Queen, which wouldn’t have been possible without other family members.

When Adrian visits Rose during a Spirit dream, she tells him that they should nominate Lissa as a candidate, certain that the shock in their world will slow down the hunt for herself. She is right, the people are furious. They feel that she is only eighteen, linked to the previous’ Queen killer and her Spirit magic makes her unstable. Lissa starts doing the tests, and she does them remarkably well, gaining support as she goes further. For her, it is a promise to keep her family’s name high where it belongs, and a matter of pride, but to the Moroi she is a valid and loved candidate.

When Rose causes a scene at the motel she is hiding with Dimitri and Sydney, they are forced to leave their location. They head to a secret community, the Keepers that is composed of humans, Moroi and Dhampirs who are very primitive. There Rose gets another follower and has to make it clear she isn’t interested. While there, they realize that the only person who might know of Lissa’s illegitimate family member is Sonya Karp, Rose and Lissa’s old teacher who turned into a Strigoi to get away from her Spirit induced insanity. Dimitri uses his old connections to find out where she is living, and they go to find her. They are soon joined by Victor Dashkov and his half-brother Robert Doru, a crazy Spirit user. They turn Sonya back into a Moroi, and she is able to help them track down Lissa’s family.

Rose is shocked when it turns out that Jill Mastrano, a younger Moroi and one of her friends is Lissa’s half-sister. Jill agrees to head to court and openly admit it, but she is kidnapped by Victor and Robert, and the Guardians storm the Mastrano’s house after Victor tipped them off.

They hunt Victor, Robert and Jill down, and Rose kills Victor. She is terrified that she is going crazy from her bond with Lissa, and it takes a while to calm her down. She and Dimitri sleep together afterwards and head to court to take Jill in. Adrian realizes that Rose cheated on him and things are very awkward, but he is still kind towards Jill.

Rose, Dimitri and Lissa enters Court, where Lissa is one of two candidates left for the Monarchy. She declares Lissa has a sister, meaning she can be Queen if she gets voted in. Rose reveals herself, and tells the Court the evidence clearing her name – how Tasha Ozera framed her after killing the Queen, how Tasha hated the Queen and Rose as well, because Dimitri had only ever loved Rose and not her. Tasha is furious and denies it, but it is obvious that she is guilty. She tries to shoot Lissa, but Rose does one last heroic deed and just in front of her best friend, and getting critically injured.

Days later, Rose wakes up and discovers that 1) she’s alive 2) Lissa is Queen and 3) when she was shot and her body repaired itself, the bond she had with Lissa disappeared. She is reunited with the love of her life Dimitri, and her best friend is not only safe, but the ruler of their world.

Rating: 7/10

I enjoyed the last book in the series, even though it felt like I had to run a marathon to get through it. Last Sacrifice manages to tie up loose ends, finish off the appropriate people stories and leaves a few things untouched that gets picked up in the sister series, Bloodlines.

Once again, Rose is her single minded self. It is unfair to claim she is selfish, because she offers up so much of her time to protect her closest friend. She can rather be perceived as someone who only cares what happens to the people she loves the most – Lissa and Dimitri. I felt very sorry for Adrian at the end. He is already fragile of mind and then instead of dumping him when she knows it won’t work, she strings him along with false promises and then cheats of him. Not very nice.

Lissa was much more enjoyable in the last book. She finally found pride and a little backbone, which is a huge improvement from the fragile thing we met in Vampire Academy.

The series Vampire Academy is in my opinion something worth reading if you like YA fiction. It is better than most material out there, original and exciting.

Have you read the series? What did you think?

Book Review: Spirit Bound (Richelle Mead)

Book: 61/100

After learning that there might be a way to return Strigoi to their mortal state, Rose Hathaway realises that she needs to break her archenemy, Victor Dashkov, from prison. She enlists the help of her friends Lissa Dragomir and Eddie Castile, and they set of to break him out. They miraculously manage it, and end up in Las Vegas, where Victor wants to meet his half-brother, Robert Doru. Robert tells them that to save a Strigoi, a Spirit user needs to stake it with a silver stake that has been charmed with all the Moroi elements – earth, fire, water and spirit. Lissa wants to do this, but Rose knows allowing her might mean her friend’s death. Adrian Ivashkov arrives in Las Vegas, and he is understandably upset when he realizes Rose’s plan to bring her ex-boyfriend back from the dead. Dimitri attacks them while in Vegas, but once again Rose is unable to kill him, enraging Eddie, the other Guardian there. She confides in him that Dimitri was more than a teacher to her, and while he is sympathetic, he remains firm that she should have staked him. Robert and Victor escape, turning the trip into a complete disaster.

Back at the royal court Rose and Eddie gets into trouble for taking Lissa into dangerous surroundings. Rose gets stuck with paperwork, something she really hates. She meets Mikhael Tanner, another Guardian who lost someone he loved when she turned Strigoi. It turns out that his love was Sonya Karp, Rose and Lissa’s teacher who went crazy from being a spirit user.

Lissa and Christian Ozera is captured by Dimitri when they leave court for a college tour, and tells Rose through her and Lissa’s spirit bond he expects her to come and save her friend. She and other Guardians attack them, and Lissa manages to return Dimitri to his original Dhampir state. He is taken captive because no one knows what to believe, and Rose is stunned when he doesn’t want to see or speak to her.

The Queen of the Moroi, Tatiana Ivashkov, is known for despising Rose. When she asks Rose to tell her story of Strigoi hunting, Rose is stunned but complies. When she realizes Tatiana plans to use it to force Guardians to start working at sixteen, she openly threatens the Queen. When the Queen is found murdered with Rose’s stake, things doesn’t look good for her. She is taken into custody.

How will she possibly survive this? Who murdered the Queen? And will Dimitri ever be able to face her again?

Rating: 6/10

Once again, not a bad read. There is still some unnecessary things that happen, silly subplots that distract from the overall storyline. The series is very original, although the love triangle certainly isn’t. I think Rose was completely wrong looking at Adrian while she wasn’t over Dimitri, and even thinking that it could work. Tatiana’s murder was a surprise, and made the seventh book possible (once again supporting my theory that the series didn’t need seven books)

I would recommend this book to people who love YA fiction. It is a really good book, although if you want to read it it is advisable to read the series in correct order.

Book Review: Shadow Kissed (Richelle Mead)

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Book: 59/100

Book three of the Vampire Academy Series

What happened?

After an attack on St. Vladimir’s academy, the entire school headed to an exclusive resort for the holidays. While there, a bunch of Rose Hathaway’s friends sneaked out to go capture Strigoi in Spokane, and Rose went after them. She managed to save most of her friends, except Mason. Afterwards, her teacher Dimitri told her he had accepted that he would always love her.

Shadow Kissed

Rose is set to take trials at being a Guardian within St. Vladimir’s Academy. The trials consist of Dhampir novice Guardians shadowing selected Moroi, and “protecting” them if one of their teachers attacks them while faking as Strigoi. She fully expects to be assigned to Lissa because of their bond and also because everyone knows that is how things should be. Rose is outraged when she is assigned to look after Christian Ozera, Lissa’s boyfriend. Eddie gets to guard Lissa, and while she knows that he will do a very good job, she is peeved that they would actually separate her from her best friend. Dimitri chastises her and she finally acknowledges that it might be a good idea.

As an aftermath to the bloodshed she witness the past year, and a side effect of being shadow-kissed, Rose has developed the scary ability to see ghosts. Initially, she doesn’t know this, and thinks she is going crazy when she sees Mason’s ghost in the school. She learns that the magical wards that surround the school is supposed to block ghosts and Strigoi, but everyone tells her the wards are maintained and in perfect order.

Rose learns that Victor Dashkov, the man who had tortured Lissa, is set for trial. Dimitri tells her that she and Lissa aren’t allowed to attend, and she is furious with him. Adrian Ivashkov, a Moroi royal, manages to get them to attend to impress Rose, making Dimitri feel useless as he really tried his best.

At the Moroi Royal Court, the queen summons Rose and tells her to stay away from her great-nephew, Adrian. She makes it clear that she won’t allow the relationship, not listening when Rose says that she truly isn’t interested in Adrian. Rose receives a threatening message from Victor Dashkov, with some hints that he might out her and Dimitri’s forbidden love. She goes to Dimitri, and they visit him together. They discuss the matter, and even though Victor still taunts them, Dimitri says he is confident that their secret won’t come out. Victor is eventually sentenced to life imprisonment, and locked away.

Rose continues to have headaches whenever she is not in school or the Academy. Every time it seems like there are ghosts are around her, waiting for her attention.  Meanwhile, she is messing up her Guardian tests, because she sees Mason every time she is supposed to fight. It is only because of Dimitri’s vote of confidence that she is allowed to continue, and she is ordered to do only half day guarding after she tells her teachers about the ghosts and they think her stressful life is catching up to her.

Rose notices that there are many kids with bruises at the school who won’t confess who is hurting them. She investigates, and learns that it is a secret club started by elite Moroi who tries to force their friends into using compulsion – something that is forbidden in their world. The group tries to recruit Lissa and Christian too, but they laugh it off.

Rose finally gets to prove herself when Dimitiri attacks her and Lissa, faking as a Strigoi. It is a close fight, but she wins, impressing her teachers and friends alike. After that she realizes that Lissa is under attack from the compulsion group, and rushes to her aid. She helps her friend, but takes some of Lissa’s Spirit-induced darkness and starts attacking the group. She is restrained by Dimitri and taken to a cabin away from the guilty so that she can calm down. Finally, their resolve falters and after a year of restraint they make love. Upon returning to the school grounds, Rose sees Mason, and shortly afterwards she sees the Strigoi that Mason had pointed out.

With the evil vampires on school ground, Rose hurries back on Dimitri’s orders and alert the Guardians. They go into full scale attack, and when Rose finds Christian on the school ground, they combine their skills and kill many Strigoi together. The living Strigoi flees campus before sunrise, and Dimitri tells Rose that they took Dhampirs and Moroi captive.

After debating the pros and cons, the Guardians decide to stage a rescue mission. They head out to the caves where they know the Strigoi are hiding, and rescue the captives. Rose sees Dimitri get trapped, but is pulled to safety. At school, Rose hears something that makes her world crash – That Dimitri had been turned into a Strigoi. Her only choice now is to hunt him down and kill him, as they promised each other they would. But will she find him and come out alive?

Rating: 6.5/10

After Frostbite, this book seems so well done. Things relevant to the storyline actually happen here, and the events aren’t too stretched out. I applauded Rose and Dimitri for finally getting together and his decision to just accept his feelings and work with it instead of the denial that had tormented him. Turning him into a Strigoi was a great idea, and I was floored that Richelle Mead actually had the nerve to do it. Without knowing what happened in the rest of the series made me sad for their lost love so short after their acceptance of it, but reading onwards it became clear that a great plan was in the works for the series.

This is definitely one of the better books in the series, and quite enjoyable.

Book Review: Frostbite (Richelle Mead)

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Book: 58/100

Part of the Vampire Academy series

Book two

What happened?

Rosemarie Hathaway seriously endangered her future job as a Guardian in the secret vampire world when she ran away with her best friend, Vasalisa Dragomir. Vasalissa, or Lissa, is the last in her royal Moroi line, making her extremely precious. Lissa has the rare magical ability to heal people and bring them back from the dead – like she did with Rose. Because she saved Rose’s life, Rose is linked to her – a link that is called “Shadow Kissed”. Rose is able to read Lissa’s mind, making her an excellent choice as Lissa’s Guardian.

The two were captured and returned to St. Vladimir’s Academy, where Rose was nearly expelled for her misdeeds. She was saved from expulsion by Dimitri Belikov, a young, handsome Guardian who had noticed Lissa and Rose’s bond, and had offered to take her under his wing to train. The two fell for each other and managed to control themselves. Things only got out of control when Victor Dashkov, an uncle of Lissa, put a lust spell on them, and they almost slept together. Dimitri managed to break the spell, and they were able to save Lissa from Victor who had kidnapped her. After Lissa was saved Dimitri told Rose that he had never loved her, but after she was attacked by Victor’s daughter who had turned into an evil vampire, Dimitri told her that he had and always would love her, though if they were still planning to become Guardians to Lissa when she graduated they could never be with each other – it would place Lissa in too much danger.

Frostbite

When a Moroi royal family is murdered by Strigoi, the Moroi/Dhampir world is on full alert. The Strigoi managed to kill an impressive number of Guardians by breaking a magical ward – something that humans had done because it is impossible for Strigoi to touch the wards. This in itself is strange – humans working with Strigoi would mean a much bigger problem to the Guardians. Rose witnesses the aftermath when she and Dimitri go to the house that was attacked – she was meant to take a test there with one of the Guardians that was killed.

She stays and watches the clean-up procedure with Dimitri, and afterwards returns to the school where everything is in chaos. She once again calms Lissa down, though technically she is the one that went through the ordeal, and starts to feel as though she is always the one who should be strong. This is the first of her many mood swings, which she later discovers is part of being shadow-kissed – because she has a Spirit-Bond with Lissa, she catches some of the insanity that comes with Lissa’s power.

Mason, a guy who has liked Rose for ages, makes no excuse that he would like to date her. She realizes that it would not be a bad idea to date someone her own age and not pine over someone she isn’t allowed to date.

The school decides to send its students to a private resort frequented by Moroi. As a result of the attack, the school and many other Moroi families decide to spend the holiday there. That is where Rose meets Adrian Ivashkov, a playboy Royal who is also a Spirit user like Lissa. Dimitri tells her to stay away from Adrian, and Rose basically spends time with Adrian to piss her instructor off. She found out that there may be something between Dimitri and Tasha Ozera – Christian’s aunt who is actually a nice lady and more suitable for him, even if she is a Moroi and he a Dhampir. Rose and Dimitri fights over this, and he tells her that she only proves her age with her childish habits.

Meanwhile, another Strigoi attack has taken place, and it resulted in the murder of Mia Renaldi’s mother. Rose and Lissa feel very sorry for Mia, even though they once hated her. They are unable to help her feel better, but she does start hanging out around them more.

Mason and Rose, now technically a couple, have a bad fight when Rose can’t seem to make up her mind on whether she wants to sleep with him. She realizes later that he went to Spokane with Eddie and Mia to hunt Strigoi, and she and Christian immediately follow without even considering telling any authority.

Christian and Lissa find their three friends safe, but soon afterwards all five are captured by Stigoi and bound up. After and immense struggle, Rose manages to kill the Strigoi and free her friends. All except Mason, who is killed by a Strigoi. The official school guardians arrive shortly afterwards, and it is only then that Rose leaves Mason’s body.

Dimitri tells Rose that he has realized that he could never love anyone else but her, and that they will somehow find a way to be together.

Rating: 5.5/10

Reading this book the first time caused me slight irritation, though I persisted. Second time around, after I’ve finished the series, I am irritated by it because I don’t find the book necessary to the series. I honestly feel that the tale could have been told in 3 – 4 books. The only justification for this book is the introduction of Adrian and Tasha. They are important characters later on, but they could probably have been introduced in the third book and it would have still worked out.

Rose starts to be a better person here, although she is still way too fond of herself to be overly endearing for me. Her best characteristics remains her brutal honesty and fearlessness, and her worst her vanity. She shouldn’t have dated Mason while still in love with Dimitri. She should have told her teachers when she realized her friends were missing. She should have taken them back on the safest route in Spokane. I could really go on forever because she is seriously flawed, and even though it adds character to the story it is still annoying.

The injustice of the Moroi society frustrates me to no end. There is no justice or equality, and the use of Dhampirs for Guardians is a form of slavery. I maintain that Rose is the one who deserves the spotlight, not the overly fragile Lissa.

To bring some balance I have to mention that Adrian is one of my favorite supernatural characters ever, and I am so glad he was written. He is absolutely essential to the Bloodlines series, which stems from Vampire Academy. He is charming and dangerous and a player, and yet he still manages to be a good man who has the capacity for great love. I enjoy his cheesy pick-up lines and his sarcasm, when he dances with insanity, his love for vices and his addiction to Rose – which is just another vice because she is just as destructive as his alcohol or cigarettes.

This book serves mainly as an introduction to people and events that are important later on, and illustrating the importance of Rose and Dimitri’s love. It starts to show how unfair Rose’s destiny is, and makes you wonder whether she will eventually become Lissa’s Guardian and if it really is the thing she wants the most.

Read my review on the first book, Vampire Academy, here.

PS: If you’ve read the books and blogged about it, please drop me a comment. I am desperate to find some other opinions on this series!

Book Review: Vampire Academy (Richelle Mead)

Book: 57/100

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WARNING: CONTAINS SPOILERS

Before I found out about Vampire Academy, I was scared my secret love for the vampire YA fiction would have to end. I had loved the entire Twilight series and their subsequent movies, but I completely loathed the Vampire Diaries books. I was fearful that I would have to stop reading it if I couldn’t find new, good reading material.

I found these books on sale at my local bookstore, and decided to give it a chance. I was pleasantly surprised. The books aren’t that fantastic, but it is still enjoyable to read, and much better than most material within its genre.

Background

The books are based on the theory that three types of supernatural forms exists.

The first is Moroi – mortal vampires who only drink enough to sustain themselves, and not to kill. Moroi vampires possess magical abilities. A Moroi can either be a water, fire or earth user, but it is later discovered that there is a lesser known magical ability as well – the extremely rare Spirit users can heal people and even bring them back from the dead.

The second type of vampire is Strigoi. These vampires are evil and extremely strong, and kill their food source. They cannot come out in the sunlight; whereas Moroi can handle it in small doses. Moroi are born, but Strigoi are made. You can become an immortal vampire by drinking a Strigoi’s blood, or if you are Moroi, killing the person you drank from.

The third type of being is a hybrid – half-vampire, half human. They are called Dhampirs, and live with the Moroi is seclusion. Dhampirs are born when a human and dhampir sleep together, or when a dhampir and Moroi do. Dhampirs are infertile together. To survive and procreate, they protect the Moroi, serving as bodyguards. Moroi is constantly under attack from Strigoi, and they are much weaker than their evil cousins. Thus the Dhampirs, who possess very strong genes from both the races they were made of, are trained as Guardians during school, and when they graduate it is their life’s work to protect Moroi.

It is a taboo in the secret world of vampires to sleep with humans. It is also frowned upon to sleep with a Dhampir, but not openly discouraged. Female Dhampirs often live together to raise their children – children who were created by Moroi men who just likes to fool around with Dhampirs, then go marry into their own race. These Dhampir communities carry a stigma, and the women there are often referred to “blood-whores” because of the rumours that they allow Moroi to drink blood from them during the sex.

The story’s two female leads, Rosemary Hathaway and Vaslisa Dragomir are best friends. After the death of her parents and brother, Lissa is the last of the Dragomir’s – a royal Moroi clan. It is obviously high priorities to keep her safe, as the Moroi have many traditions that involve the specific royal houses. Rose is a Dhampir that was effectively raised by her school. Her mother, Janine Hathaway, is a famous guardian but does not have much time to spend with her daughter. Rose has never known her father, but thinks he is a Turkish Moroi her mother had had a fling with as a young woman. They have been best friends since kindergarten, and Rose is planned to be Lissa’s Guardian after they both graduate from St. Vladimir’s Academy.

Vampire Academy

Rose and Lissa ran away from their school after Lissa suffered through months of unease. After her family’s death in the car crash she and Rose survived, she started feeling that people were watching her. Rose believed these feelings to be true – because Rose can read Lissa’s mind. For some reason, Rose has a physic bond to her best friend, enabling her to see into Lissa’s mind. The bond started to develop after the car crash, and they have no idea why.

They are found by the school Guardians one night after Lissa drank from Rose as a survival method. One of the Guardians that capture them accidentally sees this before Rose notices him and they attempt their escape. They are cornered not shortly afterwards and forced to return to school. The guardian that captured them is Dimitri Belikov, a native from Siberia, who is a teacher Guardian at school. Rose notices that he is very attractive and also a superb guardian.

Lissa and Rose are taken to Headmistress Kirova’s office, and thoroughly berated for their reactions. She nearly expels Rose but Dimitri saves her education by revealing the girls’ bond, and argues that it would be a waste to let such a gift go to waste. Rose is allowed to stay under certain conditions. She is banned from any social activities in the school and has to take extra lessons with Dimitri to compensate for the two years she missed out on.

Rose and Lissa immediately make a new enemy, Mia Renaldi. Mia is mean to them from the first day they meet, and they initially think it is because Mia is dating Aaron, Lissa’s ex. They realise her spite is too intense to only be because of him, but they have no idea why she is acting that way.

Rose returns to popularity, famous for being a smart ass, being cocky and now also for escaping from the strict security at the school. She becomes friends again with Mason and Eddie, two trainee guardians who was always nice to her before. She especially notices Mason’s interest, but starts to flirt with a Moroi named Jesse Zeklos. He is attractive, but not the most interesting of men, and when they make out he realises that Rose had to be Lissa’s blood source while they were on the run – dangerous knowledge for someone else to have. Rose tries to defuse the situation, but Dimitri arrives, and terrifies Jesse. It is then that Rose starts to realise that Dimitri may also feel the attraction to her that she feels to him, although he is years older and also her teacher. They fight, and he tells her she needs to take care of her reputation to prevent blood-whore rumours from spreading. She apologises, and they agree to seriously start working on her guardian skills.

Meanwhile, Lissa is having more and more problems. She is depressed and afraid, but refuses to attempt another escape because she knows that Rose loves school and needs her training. She keeps mostly to herself, except for Rose and her cousin Natalie. She flees to the school chapel’s attic for some quiet on many occasions, and there she meets Christian Ozera – a Moroi royal outcast. Christian’s parents went Strigoi and now the entire Moroi world shuns him and his aunt. They connect, and Lissa ignores Rose’s warnings that he is bad for her, because he actually is good for her and doesn’t treat her as a precious little person like most of their friends do.

Lissa hasn’t yet specialized in any magical element, and this worries both her and Rose.  The school advisor Ms Carmack tells Rose after that Lissa shows a higher than average score in all the elements, even though she has not specialized. On Rose’s question whether a vampire can specialize in more than one element, Ms Carmack tells her that it would drive someone insane to have all that power. Rose and Lissa both know that Lissa is able to perform extraordinary magic – heal things so perfectly that they can return from the dead. She did this on a bird once, and they were both terrified. Another teacher of theirs, Ms. Karp, had the same ability and she went so insane that she willingly became Strigoi to stop the crazy. The two friends agree not to tell anyone about Lissa’s power, in fear that she might be locked up.

Jesse and his best friend, the idiotic Ralf Sarkozy, start spreading false stories about Rose. They tell everyone that she slept with both of them, and even let them feed of her during the act. This destroys Rose’s reputation, and she is shamed. Lissa refuses to let her best friend just go down like that, and starts campaigning for her. She is very successful because of her natural charm but also because of the extra strong compulsion she has and uses illegally on her classmates. Things start improving for Rose, but Christian isn’t too happy with Rose or Lissa, especially since Lissa starts dating Aaron again to get back at Mia. Christian kisses Lissa to prove to her what real attraction is, but she is too angry at him to realize his feelings are real. He tells her the main reason why Mia hates her so much – Lissa’s brother Andre had been sleeping with Mia in secret while still alive, but forced her not to tell anyone because she wasn’t royal. When he broke up with her, he wasn’t even kind about it, and completely destroyed a girl who was already insecure because she isn’t royal. Now Mia hates Lissa and Rose by default because of that, but they refuse to feel guilty as Mia is a big cow.

Rose and Lissa go shopping with Natalie and her father, Prince Victor Dashkov. Although relatively young, he is dying of a rare disease, and the three girls are very worried. He takes them out for a day so that they can get dresses for Prom, and Rose is allowed with because she has been a good girl, and it will allow her to practice her guardian duties. After the shopping experience, she falls through a step that was fine seconds ago. Rose goes unconscious, Dimitri carries her into ER, but they learn that she has made another miraculous recovery. Rose freaks out, knowing that Lissa healed her, and tells her teachers about Lissa’s special powers.

Lissa is very angry about what Rose did, and starts to ignore her. Suddenly, Rose becomes the outcast again when everyone realizes she is being ignored by the most popular girl in school. It doesn’t bother Rose overly much, because she has her own friends and the training with Dimitri.

At the prom, Mason gets Jesse and Ralf to confess to Rose that they spread the rumors about her. They also tell her that Mia slept with them to get them to tell everyone Rose is a blood-whore, and that they will start spreading the truth. Mia realizes what is happening and attacks Lissa, and Rose protects her friend by breaking Mia’s nose. The teachers are understandably upset about this, and Rose is taken away to her room to await punishment. Christian heads off to console Lissa, but is attacked and left unconscious when Lissa gets kidnapped. Rose sees this of course through the bond, and immediately escapes confinement to go tell Dimitri.

She is taken under a lust spell the moment she sees Dimitri. She starts kissing him, and he is seized by the same charm. They nearly make love but he realizes something is amiss and throws the necklace Rose received as a present from Victor Dashkov out the window, and they are both suddenly painfully aware of their surroundings. Rose remembers Lissa’s kidnapping, and all the Guardians immediately spring into action. Rose is able to tell them where Lissa is through the bond, and they go after her.

They arrive at a secluded cabin, and Rose is ordered to stay in the car. She “sees” her friend compelling her captors to let her go, and realizes Lissa is going to need help. She discovers Christian sneaked out with them, and together they on a rescue mission. They are attacked by psy-hounds, supernatural animals intent on capturing them, and Christian is seriously injured before the other Guardians arrive to help. Lissa drinks from Rose for strength and then heals Christian, and the guardians arrest Victor Dashkov.

A few days later Dimitri tells Rose that what they did was wrong and only a result from the lust charm. She goes to Victor’s holding cell and tells him to take off the curse because she still feels something, and he tells her that the feelings are real, or else his magic wouldn’t have worked.

One last piece of drama awaits Rose when Natalie shows up at the cells, and attacks Rose. Natalie turned into a Strigoi to free her father, and almost kills Rose before Dimitri arrives and kills her. Dimitri once again carries Rose to the hospital, and he tells her that he loves her, although their relationship could never work if they are both supposed to guard Lissa. Rose knows this is the truth, but is still sad because she genuinely likes him.  Lissa gets a happy ending when she starts to date Christian and get help for the depression that is associated with her Spirit-power.

Rating: 6/10

Not the most solid start to a series, but the book managed to grab me enough to move to the second book and from there on to finish it (the series runs seven books). At some stages, I felt that the writer wasn’t as clear as she could be about events, and didn’t describe things well enough.

Dimitri is a solid male lead to Rose. She would never have fallen for a weak, puny man. She needs a man who is just as strong as she is both emotionally and physically, and who isn’t afraid of her lifestyle, or her career choice.

Things I loved in the book

The book is a more original attempt in the vampire genre. The theories used are loosely based on Romanian myths, so there is some credibility to the story. The characters are original in their own right, not just derivatives from another vampire series.

The book is not difficult to read. It is an easy one, but not perfectly done. The writing style of the Twilight series gets a few points above this. That mentioned, the VA series is on a much higher scale than the Vampire Diaries books (which brought me to tears, for all the wrong reasons)

Rose’s fighting spirit.

As a character, I find her very self-assured and ready to kick ass. She is fearless when it comes to protecting Lissa, and she isn’t afraid to voice opinions. She is mostly content with her fate, even when it is obvious that she is the one who should be deserves to be the popular one in their friendship.

Rose and Lissa’s friendship is strong. Like all true friends, they sometimes fight and then make up. They both have their flaws and attributes, and seem to accept it about one another.

Dimitri did try to stay away from a pupil

He really did. In fact, if I remember correctly, it took him three books to just deal with the fact that he loved Rose. He did his best to remember he is a teacher (as he bloody well should) and valiantly tried to stay away.

Things I didn’t like all that much

There is a half-vampire Russian guy named Dimitri

Russian

Dimitri

Vampire

Three things that are so much thrown together, it would seem that all the half-vampires from Russia are named Dimitri. Not original at all.

Rose loves herself SO much

Although a huge fan of self-confidence, Rose really likes herself too much. Her vanity is maybe the reason this book hadn’t struck Twilight levels – most teenage girls don’t associate with such levels of self-love.

The whole older guy thing

Back on Dimitri, it is once again the world’s largest cliché that a girl falls for a mysterious older guy. Oh, wait, he is her teacher too!

The vast amounts of human rights abuse

Dhampirs aren’t humans, this I get, but they have absolutely no rights in these books. They are treated as half breeds, and they have to spend their lives protecting their “pure-blood” cousins. They are either used as human shields or as prostitutes, but either way they never win.

Conclusion

Vampire Academy is being made into a movie, so I would recommend reading it before you watch it, if only for the pleasure to be able to bitch about the changes. I think it is a good, fun and original series, and this book especially deserves to be turned into a movie. Who knows, maybe another major franchise is starting!

PS: If you are a fan, please drop a comment – I am dying to read other opinions on the books and movie!