Vampire Academy (Vampire Academy, #1) by Richelle Mead
Published by Razorbill on December 31, 2013 by Razorbill (first published August 16, 2007)
Genres: young adult, paranormal romance, urban fantasy, supernatural
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I’ve known about the Vampire Academy series for years now, back when fellow reviewers first began raving about it. (This was before I became so interested in vampire books.) After a few years, I heard about it again, and considered whether or not I should read it.
And I’m kind of glad I did, because this was kind of fun. 🙂
This book is like Twilight in that, if you think about it, the premise is actually really cool, even if it sounds weird, at first. Vampire boarding school? Being a bodyguard for a vampire princess? Heck, yeah. Sign me up. It sounded like a great mix of action and fluff and a great pleasure read.
And it kind of was.
You’ll notice I’m using the phrase “kind of” a lot in this review. Yes, it’s on purpose—I liked this book, but didn’t really like it, and I’m going to try my best to explain why.
Let me start with the positives: For a vampire book, this was (mostly) interesting, entertaining, and unique. I loved the way Mead portrayed vampire hierarchy, the ideas of vampires being able to manipulate elements, and the idea of there being two kinds of vampires: the more humane ones (if you will) closer to modern interpretations called the Moroi, and the traditional, soulless, cold-blooded killers, the Strigoi. That was a brilliant way of fusing two polarizing stereotypes of vampire mythology appealing to multiple kinds of vampire fans. It was really creative, in my opinion.
(Speaking of creative, I was really excited to see Orthodox Christianity make a cameo in this book [if only briefly]. It’s so cool to see one’s religion represented in YA fiction. Unfortunately, I felt Mead just Googled my faith and “pasted” its name into the story wherever it was convenient; it seems little to know research went into this. I know Rose isn’t necessarily religious, but including another religion in your novel is like writing about another culture; you have to do your research. I was disappointed to see even some of the most basic things were wrong. [It’s “Liturgy,” not “Mass” for the Orthodox; the latter is the Catholic title.])
I also really enjoyed the relationship between Rose and Lissa. It was nice to see a supportive female friendship in a paranormal YA novel. I want to see more of those types of relationships in YA fiction, specifically the paranormal subgenre.
Rose was a really spunky, funny protagonist; she made me laugh out loud multiple times with her attitude. Sometimes, I wish I was that sassy. Unfortunately, I didn’t connect with her quite as completely as I’d hoped to, which meant I wasn’t as invested in the story as I could have been, either in what was happening with Lissa or in the two girls’ romantic escapades with their own separate love interests.
And, as compelling as some of the aspects of this novel were, this book read more like a boarding school drama than a supernatural mystery. And maybe that’s what it was supposed to be, but I feel like, in putting more focus on the drama, the book sold itself short of its full potential. I know cliques, girl rivalries, and romantic relationships are a part of high school, but I can do without slut-shaming and love triangles (not involving both Rose and Lissa, thank God). I wanted more about the vampires themselves, and instead I got teenager vampires—emphasis on the “teenager” aspect.
Overall, a promising start to the series, but it didn’t quite deliver for me. I’ll continue the series, but I’m hoping for less drama and a little more insight into the vampire hierarchy and the politics involved. That was one of the aspects I really liked about this book, and I hope it’s developed more in the future. (Also, more Strigoi, please. And more Dmitri. Both of those would be pretty cool, too.)