Review: Vampire Academy (VA #1) by Richelle Mead

Monday, February 24, 2014
Why I chose this book:
A few weeks ago, I went to go see Vampire Academy in theaters with my co-author, Addison. (You can read our thoughts about the movie here). But long story short, I knew that I at least needed to read the first book of the series after seeing it on the big screen.

Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead
Publisher: Razorbill
Release Date: August 16, 2007
Format: Paperback
Genre: Young Adult, Paranormal
Buy: B&N | Indiebound | Amazon

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. (Goodreads)
3 things you need to know about this book:

1. This is not Twilight.
Honestly, going into the movie that is what I expected, and just like the movie, the book completely shattered all of my preconceived opinions on vampires. This is good work. Twilight was a sad excuse for literature (in my humble opinion), but this blew me out of the water. Granted, Mead doesn’t have the most wonderful writing (but considering this is one of her first novels, I will definitely let that slide for the time being), but the plot and characters in this series are well developed and completely enthralling. Rose’s sassy and take-no-crap attitude is refreshing and funny. Lissa’s constancy is endearing, and Dimitri’s mysterious quietness is… well, it’s extremely hot.

2. The world and culture Mead created might just bring you to your knees.
The culture Mead creates in her work is astounding. Every last detail sucks you in and captures your imagination. This is vampire fiction for people who do not like vampires, and these books do not revolve around vampires, but instead revolves around people who had connections, and friends, and a sense of obligation and destiny. That alone sets this series apart from other vampire fiction (especially in YA lit circles). 

To expound off of this subject, I found that the most interesting piece of her world was the Moroi and Dhampir relationship. A Dhampir’s main job is to protect Moroi; it is their duty and destiny, and Moroi are supposed to sit there, look pretty, and run both races. This creates an extremely different yet intriguing hierarchy. 

3. Relationships found at St. Vladimir’s Academy.
I found Lissa and Rose’s bond of friendship very endearing and quite refreshing. You generally find a bond between boy and girl (in which they fall in love). Rose and Lissa’s friendship is completely different and makes you remember what it was like having a best friend when you were a teenager. 

Of course I can’t talk about relationships without mention Dimitri Belikov. I mean, come on, can I just fangirl for a second?! Rose and Dimitri’s relationship is something that you don’t quite read often in published YA lit. Mentor and Student. That is slightly taboo, but the fact that he isn’t exactly a teacher marks this one as an accepted topic by technicality. I’m going to be the first one to say that I love that he’s seven years older than Rose, and I love that despite her age, he still finds her fascinating. Ugh, I just love Dimitri. You should at least read this book, if not for the story itself, do it for him —it will cause some major heart palpitations.

Final Thoughts: 
I loved this book (and the movie even), more than I care to admit. It’s not the best book I’ve ever read in my life, but I like it enough to binge read the rest of the series. Remember, this is vampire fiction for people who do not like vampires, so if you would consider yourself one of these people, you would most definitely love this series; it’s so much more than vampires, it’s about surviving, love, and learning how to be a teenager and grown-up.

I gave this book 4 stars on my Goodreads.

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