Posts Tagged ‘Young Adult’

Book Review: Vampire Academy

Vampire Academy

Richelle Mead
Paperback, 336 pages
Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
August 16, 2007

 

Rose Hathaway and Lissa Dragomir are no ordinary runaway teens.  Lissa is a Moroi, a living vampire with incredible powers of healing and compulsion as well as the ability to use elemental magic.  Rose is a Dhampir, half human and half vampire, who’s fiercely protective of her best friend and will do anything to keep her from harm.  The pair have fled St. Vladimir’s Academy and have been on the run for two years when the story unfolds.

They’re quickly captured and taken back to the academy in rural Montana (where young Moroi are schooled  in magic and other academic subjects and Dhampir are trained to become their guardians, protecting them from the evil Strigoi, vampires who are no longer living and thrive off killing humans and Moroi), where Rose narrowly escapes expulsion.  Instead she’s forbidden to leave her dorm room except for classes and training sessions with Dimitri, one of the school guardians who becomes her mentor.  Distracted by her intense attraction to him, Rose struggles to keep her head and protect Lissa from jealous peers and vicious rumors circulating about them both. 

Harmless rumors and idle threats soon turn to violent pranks, and Rose must tap into her newfound ability to sense Lissa’s emotions and see through her eyes in order to protect her, not only from her enemies but from herself.  The girls face a host of dangers from psi-hounds, the dreaded Strigoi, and worst of all, high school drama as Rose searches for the key to understanding the strange link that binds her to Lissa and what it means for her best friend that she shares similarities with the famed (and less than stable) St. Vladimir.

YA is a really hot genre with adults right now and since I enjoyed Harry Potter and Twilight so much I thought I’d venture out and try a few more and see if they’re too my liking.  I’m a little torn on this one though.  As entertaining as it was, Rose and her nonstop tough girl act drove me absolutely crazy.  And her obsession with Lissa was borderline creepy at times.  I know they’re best friends and she’s training to be Lissa’s guardian, but after a while I was thinking, “Yeah, I get it, you’re fiercely protective of her and you don’t care whose face you have to smash to make your point!” 

But I really liked the overall premise  and some of the other characters (particularly Dimitri and Christian, the brooding, scandalized Moroi whose Strigoi parents were murdered by guardians).    Also, all the vampire cultural taboos were fascinating (e.g. a Dhampire letting a Moroi drink blood during sex is considered the dirtiest act of all, and the term “blood whores” was thrown around quite a bit).  I got a little tired of all the high school social debacles, but I have to admit that I couldn’t wait to see what happened next and how it ended.

Hopefully Rose will grow on me because I plan on continuing the series.  I’ll also be interested in seeing how it compares to the first books in the Morganville Vampire and House of Night series, which I got for Christmas.

Have you read this or the other aforementioned series?  What’s your opinion of YA?

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Challenge Update: The Vampire Diaries

awakeningI just finished reading the first three books in the Vampire Diaries series as part of the Childhood Favorites challenge, hosted by Debbie.

This YA series by LJ Smith was one of my favorites when I was in elementary school and I thought it would be fun to revisit it and see whether my opinion of The Awakening, The Struggle, and The Fury has changed eighteen years later.

And the answer is yes, and no. 

They were definitely fun to read again and I was surprised at how many parts I remembered almost word for word.  The books tell the story of Elena Gilbert, a high school senior who rules the school and always gets her way, and two vampire brothers, Stefan and Damon, one that loves her and the other that will do anything to possess her.struggle

Stefan came to Fell’s Church, Virginia to try to start a new life and find a chance to be accepted among humans again.  When he sees Elena for the first time he’s instantly reminded of Katherine, his first love who turned him and his brother into vampires during the 15th century.  The story that unfolds is about the relationship between Elena and Stefan as she discovers his true nature and tries to reconcile the two brothers, who’ve been sworn enemies since Katherine died, each blaming the other for her death.  Along the way there are brutal attacks on Elena’s classmates, psychic premonitions by one of Elena’s best friends, Bonnie, and the slaying of a history teacher, and that’s just in book one.

I still really like the story but this time around it was the characters that fell flat.  When I was a kid I remember idolizing Elena and wanting to be like her when I was in high school.  Now I really hope I wasn’t.  She’s a bit of a self-centered, spoiled brat who uses people to her own ends and whines when she doesn’t get what she wants.  All the characters seemed a little immature and naive and they acted more like middle school students to me (did you really still call guys “boys” when you were a high school senior?).  Many of the characters are fairly one-dimensional and not well rounded, which makes them seem less than realistic.  Bonnie is a little too giggly and bubbly and Meredith is a little too stoic.

furyThe one exception being Damon.  He was always my favorite character and I still found him devilishly delightful this time.  Dangerous, yes, monstrous, at times, but gorgeous, powerful, and charming.  Three traits I find irresistible in a vampire. 

It was still a lot of fun to revisit Fell’s Church and get all wrapped up in Stefan’s brooding and Elena’s teenage angst, but honestly if I had just picked these books up for the first time today I probably wouldn’t be that thrilled about them.  But they’re quick reads and definitely brain candy.  I’ll probably read the fourth book, Dark Reunion, too because I don’t really remember what happens in that one.  I just checked out LJ Smith’s website and apparently she’s continuing the series with three more installments.  I might have to add them to my wish list to see what Elena and the Salvatore brothers have been up to! 

YA seems to be a really popular genre right now among adults and I’ve gotten tons of recommendations for other vampire/fantasy series so I might give those a try and see how they compare.

Have you read The Vampire Diaries?  What do you think about YA?