Reader's Choice is a weekly meme inspired by Christina at Reader of Fiction's Sadie Hawkins Sunday, where you, the readers of this blog, get to choose what I read and review on the blog each Saturday/Monday, depending on the circumstances.
Series: Vampire Academy, #1
Release Date: August 16th, 2007
Rating: 2.5 stars
Word Rating: *sigh*
Reviewed by: Blythe
Recommended by: Hayden and Steph of Cuddlebuggery
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.
This review is going to be very blunt, so I may as well start it off bluntly to set the tone: I did not like Vampire Academy nearly as much as I wanted to or expected to. With more than half of my blogger friends loving this series--including this first installment--I went into Vampire Academy with nothing but the highest of expectations, and I am extremely disappointed to say that very few of those expectations were actually met.
From the plot structure, to the world-building, to the mystery (and the eventual reveal of the motive for said mystery)--everything just fell flat for me. Richelle Mead has a concept somewhat ambitious with Vampire Academy, but I found everything to be either too simply laid out in terms of the world, or too convoluted, to the point where I had to reread a page or two to catch myself up. There is no doubting that Vampire Academy is a fun read, and I did enjoy myself while reading it (for the most part), but ultimately everything just felt too mediocre.
I feel like the structure of its plot was probably the weakest part of Vampire Academy. When I look back at the novel as a whole, all I'm really able to pick out is a lot of details establishing the world in which Rose lives--the society, the bad guys, the good guys, the half-breeds, etc--which is to be expected in the first installment of a series, but to me it seems like a really weak and, honestly trivial plot was thrown in haphazardly to balance out the establishment of the world, which took over an overwhelming majority of the novel in scattered little portions.
As well as that, it just doesn't feel all that original. I admit that this is really my fault, not really the book's, as I am six years late to the Vampire Academy party (which I will not be celebrating in based on my experience with the series so far), and the concepts brought up in Vampire Academy were probably very original and refreshing when the book was published in 2007. Now, after having read my fair share of YA vampire and paranormal reads? Not much of the novel was original, unfortunately.
I can see why Vampire Academy has such a huge fanbase, and I understand why I am in such a minority having felt absolutely ambivalent towards this installment. It is a fun read, and the plot, although something I found to be weak, was enjoyable to unravel piece by piece. The characters are well-developed, albeit very predictably so, but Rose is a sassy, strong and witty heroine that I found to be definitely likable (while she wasn't "subtly" praising her own looks and attributes while putting down others' in the process), and I enjoyed seeing her relationship with Dimitri develop.
Richelle Mead had some interesting twists in Vampire Academy, and that gives me hope that she will have some rather fascinating twists and plot points in the future novels to come. I've heard that the next book in this series are much better than Vampire Academy in terms of character development and plot, and that the third book is outstanding, so I will definitely keep an open mind and continue this series. I do think I will end up liking it, but I also think that, by the time I finish the last book of the series, I will look to the Vampire Academy series as an overall fun experience, but nothing more.
Next week on Reader's Choice I will be reviewing a title I am anxiously anticipating, and that is David Levithan's Two Boys Kissing. I'm all for YA novels featuring LGBT themes (which this book clearly does), and I was a huge fan of Levithan's Every Day (that book...), so I definitely have high hopes for this one. Thanks to Gillian of Writer of Wrongs and Scott of Scott Reads It for submitting it (regardless of the fact that I may or may not have forced you guys to)!
Do you have a book in mind that you want me to read and review as part of Reader's Choice? Fill out the form below with that book (or even books--there's nothing wrong with wanting me to read more than one)!