Book Review: Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead
Published by Razorbill, 2007
St. Vladimir’s Academy isn’t just any boarding school—it’s a hidden place where vampires are educated in the ways of magic and half-human teens train to protect them. Rose Hathaway is a Dhampir, a bodyguard for her best friend Lissa, a Moroi Vampire Princess. They’ve been on the run, but now they’re being dragged back to St. Vladimir’s—the very place where they’re most in danger…
Rose and Lissa become enmeshed in forbidden romance, the Academy’s ruthless social scene, and unspeakable nighttime rituals. But they must be careful lest the Strigoi—the world’s fiercest and most dangerous vampires—make Lissa one of them forever
I’m not certain where to begin on this review. Vampire Academy was a quick, fun read, but nothing great. I doubt I’ll carry on with the series unless the later novels are adapted to screenplay as well.
First, this book started out in a whirlwind of action and ambiguity. I mean, I love jumping right into a story, but there was absolutely no character development or speculation about plot development prior to the start of the novel. You’re just thrown in trying to figure out why everything is happening.
Being thrust into a developing story I can handle, but things only went downhill from there.
The foreshadowing of this novel was so painfully obvious. I only read to the end because I was hoping that I was wrong in my prediction of the ‘big reveal’… nope. I was right. It was as boring as I expected. This novel might read like a suspenseful mystery, but Mead puts the answers right in front of her readers the entire time. And also, besides having very little character and plot development, this story relies much too heavily on the always ill-fated love triangles. I know these are popular in YA fiction, but Mead’s were just too unoriginal. It didn’t help her book stand out any. And beyond even that, Mead played another classic YA device – humor. Except the humor was weak and as a reader I felt that I was expected to rely on Rose’s lame comebacks for her character development. It only made me even more annoyed with her.
So let’s talk about Rose and Lissa, our main characters. They’ve run away from school for some mystery reason and are dragged back. You’d think two years living as self-sufficient adults would have done something for their teenage vanity and jealousy. Nope again! These girls, Rose especially, are obsessed with shopping, boys, and gossip. Fine, whatever. The real kicker though? Rose is oh-so-good-looking and she knows it. I don’t think multiple descriptions of how great she looks in a bra really counts as character development. Her vanity not only disrupts any redeeming qualities she may have offered as a female protagonist, but it completely shrouds the only good qualities she had – her ability to kick ass and care about her friend. Turns out, Rose is weaker than she thinks. She even lets her own jealousy nearly ruin the only good thing Lissa had going. So much for being a guardian.
I can’t even talk about Lissa, she was such a bland character. She’s too fragile to do anything on her own and she’s a freaking vampire! I know it’s fun to play around with mythological origins, but Lissa was the worst vampire in history. All of the weaknesses, none of the strengths
Don’t worry, this book wasn’t all bad. Let’s end this on a positive note. I of course liked Rose as a female heroin. She wasn’t as fragile as Miss Bella Swan (Twilight), but still she’s no Katniss Everdeen (The Hunger Games). Regardless, Rose had a mission – to protect Lissa – and she worked her tush off to be strong enough to do so, taking many beatings in the meantime. Now that’s some devoted friendship. Also, as much as sex was a part of this book, Rose was a virgin throughout the book. Good work, Mead. Rose might have been reckless, but this proves that she at least had some self-control. A redeeming quality indeed.
Along with some redeeming qualities in our protagonist, the writing was actually quite good. It is an easy read with enough description and action to let readers focus on the story and not the writing. AND, I was appreciative that there were no werewolves involved. I never understood the tie between vampires and werewolves.
So there it is. If you need a quick, easy read this is a good one. I know this book got a lot of good reviews so it’s probably one you’d want to check out for yourself. It just wasn’t for me. Have at it! You really can’t go wrong with reading.
I give Vampire Academy two out of five stars.