Vampire Academy (Review)

Book cover for "Vampire Academy" by Richelle Mead.Title: Vampire Academy

Author: Richelle Mead

Publication Year: 2007

Pages: 336

Genre: Fiction, Young Adult, Fantasy

Source: E-book version borrowed from the public library

From the cover:

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 hadn’t heard of this series until I saw a preview for the movie before seeing Catching Fire with Amy in a theatre over the winter break. And to be honest, the preview looked kind of cheesy, but since Amy said that the books weren’t that bad, I thought I’d give them a shot.

One of the things I liked was the twist of vampire mythology that Mead created: the difference between Moroi (alive and good) and Strigoi (dead and bad) vampires, the ability of Moroi vampires to procreate, and the dhampirs. It’s different from so many of the other standard vampire stories, and yet somehow not crossing a line into ridiculous (sparkling in the sun, anyone?). There was something seriously badass about Rose’s character, and it was interesting to see vampires (the Moroi, at least) being portrayed not as stronger than everyone else, but as creatures in need of protection just like anyone else. Plus, the ability to wield magic and use it to help the earth? Kind of cool.

I’ve been reading a lot of YA series lately, particularly urban fantasy, and there’s something that’s been niggling in the back of my brain for a while. A big thing is made in this book about Rose being wild and having a reputation for being “easy”, and yet it’s revealed – and brought up a bunch of times in her internal monologue – that she’s still a virgin. I’m not at all sure why this is such a prevailing theme in current YA fantasy. (See DivergentThe Iron KingWicked LovelyThe Summoning, and The Gathering as examples of a main character who is female and makes a point to comment on her virginity multiple times at the beginning of a series, and possibly continues to do so throughout the remainder of the series.) And, to be honest, it’s a bit irritating. Why is this even an important plot point? Why is “first time” romance such a big thing in all these big and famous series? It’s a little worrisome.

Mead’s done a great job here in creating a different and intriguing world order for her vampires, and I have to say that I enjoyed reading this book quite a bit. The characters and mythos were unique and sympathetic, and there was enough intrigue and action to keep my attention throughout. Definitely pick up Vampire Academy if you get a chance, even if you didn’t like the movie. The book’s always better, anyways.


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