Review: The Golden Lily (Bloodlines #2) by Richelle Mead

Wednesday, April 30, 2014
Why I chose this book: 
As much as I didn’t enjoy the first book of this series, I have faith in Richelle Mead. I enjoyed Vampire Academy, so I figured I would at least give her another shot with this series. Take note that if you haven’t read the Vampire Academy series this review might be spoilerish.

The Golden Lily 
by Richelle Mead
Publisher: Razorbill
Publish Date: July 12, 2012
Format: Kindle ebook
Genre: Young Adult, Paranormal
B&N || Amazon || Indiebound
Sydney Sage is an Alchemist, one of a group of humans who dabble in magic and serve to bridge the worlds of humans and vampires. They protect vampire secrets—and human lives.

Sydney would love to go to college, but instead, she’s been sent into hiding at a posh boarding school in Palm Springs, California–tasked with protecting Moroi princess Jill Dragomir from assassins who want to throw the Moroi court into civil war. Formerly in disgrace, Sydney is now praised for her loyalty and obedience, and held up as the model of an exemplary Alchemist.

But the closer she grows to Jill, Eddie, and especially Adrian, the more she finds herself questioning her age–old Alchemist beliefs, her idea of family, and the sense of what it means to truly belong. Her world becomes even more complicated when magical experiments show Sydney may hold the key to prevent becoming Strigoi—the fiercest vampires, the ones who don’t die. But it’s her fear of being just that—special, magical, powerful—that scares her more than anything. Equally daunting is her new romance with Brayden, a cute, brainy guy who seems to be her match in every way. Yet, as perfect as he seems, Sydney finds herself being drawn to someone else—someone forbidden to her.

When a shocking secret threatens to tear the vampire world apart, Sydney’s loyalties are suddenly tested more than ever before. She wonders how she's supposed to strike a balance between the principles and dogmas she's been taught, and what her instincts are now telling her.

Should she trust the Alchemists—or her heart? (Goodreads)

3 things you need to know about this book:

1. Girls dumbing themselves down to be attractive.
Much like John Green iterates in his video about dumb boyfriends thinking their girlfriends are too smart, I became I giant squid of anger when I noticed Sydney doing this. She is an extremely intelligent person; you know that from the get go, yet she constantly rewords, abbreviates, and abridges her knowledge in order to heighten man’s opinion of her. 

Sydney even comes to admit dumbing herself down around others, but she initially thinks that people don’t want to be around a know-it-all, or more specifically, that men will not find the trait of a woman being knowledgeable attractive. Adrian eventually calls her out on it, thank God. He is quite trouble by how often she does this, and that she even thinks that she needs to do it at all. Adrian isn’t a book smart person, but he knows that she’s intelligent and thinks that she should be proud of that and not cower behind abridged versions of her thoughts. I am extremely happy that Mead confronts this flaw in Sydney in order to show the read that doing this is not okay. 

Finale statement: Women are not to dumb themselves down in order to enhance their boyfriend’s (or any person’s) self esteem.
Ten points to House Mead!

2. Take a quotation.
Was he supposed to kiss me? Was I supposed to let him? Had that been the real price of my salad?” (Bloodlines: The Golden Lily, Richelle Mead).

I found this quote extremely interesting. First off, this book deals with Sydney being somewhat interest in a guy named Brayden. He is intellectually stimulating, but he doesn’t offer much else beyond that. He isn’t passionate, she finds him moderately cute, and his kisses also inspire a lackluster feel. Being in relationships you’re not sure you want to be in but you’re not sure why you wouldn’t want to be in them is a question that teens (and hell, even adults) deal with. 

Even so, this quotation brings to light some interesting questions. Not that I will say that all me believe that they are owed kisses, but this is generally the trade off: [in average heterosexual relationships] men provide the women with dinner, stimulating company, and the showering of their attention in exchange for kisses and sometimes more. Again, this is a huge generalization, but it begs the question, should women even be okay with that kind of behavior? Do we owe them anything at all? The answer is a resounding “NO!” I just wish she would have gone more in depth about this. Sydney continued to think that this was a “rite of passage,” but it’s more than that. It’s a choice, one that you can accept or decline without major repercussions.

3. Females found in the Warriors of Light.
The females that are among the Warriors are valued and trained in combat; however, they “would never dream of letting them fight in the arenas or actively hunt vampires.” As much as that is not the sentiment of the Alchemists of Dhampirs, I still find it unnerving that Mead did not address this after the Warriors mentioned this. No comments were made; it was just fact -something that Sydney went along with without question. Mead just continued the story as if that facet weren’t important. To me, I think it is an extremely important issue to recognize. Some view childbearing and raising to be the only vocation of a woman, but others do not agree so hastily. It seemed that married women in the Warriors, though completely capable in defending themselves and attacking, the men keep them in the house to raise children. But what about the men? Do they have any duty to their familial except in protection? Even the women could protect if the need arose, so why give that job solely to the women?

Final Thoughts:
To be honest, this was a very long feminist rant concerning this series. Some of it was positive reflection, other parts were quite negative. I think Mead has potential in this area. She does right by teenagers in talking about Sydney’s flaws (anorexia, dumbing intelligence for other’s sake, etc.), but I think she could do so much more. She has so many concepts that have so many possibilities, but she doesn’t go in-depth enough to make them as relevant to the story as they could be. Don’t get me wrong, this book was good, but I have so many issues with it, it made me frustrated at times. Despite this, I still gave it a decent rating.

I gave it 3 stars on my Goodreads.

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