It is not often that I read young adult fiction. One of my customers at the c-store and I have bonded over books. She’s a prison guard and likes to have the escape of fiction. One can well imagine that her job can be stressful and a need for escape surely exists. She was raving about this series by Richelle Mead and convinced me to read the books. In May she loaned me the first three books in the series and after I finally got caught up on some of my other reading I picked them and devoured them in days.
Find out all about Richelle Mead and the Vampire Academy books at Penguin’s website.
St. Vladimir’s Academy is a school for special children. The children of the vampires and their guardians. Somewhat like Hogworts from the Harry Potter series, the school teaches the basics of math, language arts, and history as well as the physical and magical disciplines necessary for the vampires to live and prosper in a non-vampire world.
The Moroi, the elite of the vampire world, and their guardian Dhampir, half human half vampire, send their children to special schools like St. Vladimir’s. A place where they can learn and be protected at the same time. Rose Hathaway is a Dhampir, the best friend of Moroi Princess Lissa, the last of her line. They’ve been friends since childhood, Rose and Lissa being the only two to survive a tragic accident that killed the rest of Lissa’s family. An accident that may have been the plot of the evil Strigoi, the truly immortal – yet immoral – vampires.
In the first book in the series you are introduced to Rose and Lissa as they are living among normal humans, having run away from the academy at the urging of Rose and her uncanny sixth sense. They are soon taken into custody by agents of the academy and the ruling class of the Moroi, rescued and taken back in time to finish their junior year at the school. Another Dhampir is assigned to Rose for special training to help her catch up on lost time as well as a means of punishment for taking Lissa away from the safety of the academy. Dimitri takes her under his wing and teaches her most everything he knows, and a forbidden romance begins to take root between them. All this is the background for another diabolical plot to take Lissa away from the academy. This time a plot by another Moroi royal who wishes to use her special talents – healing – to his own ends.
Despite the uncomfortableness that some may have with the idea of a teenager and a twenty-something having a romance, the writing is well done. Few editing errors escaped the over-site of the publisher and the continuity of the story flows quite well. After a time it is easy to over look the strangeness of the romance between Rose and Dimitri (which I guess is common with young adult fiction). You’ll soon be caught up in the drama of the story as Rose fights to protect her friend and companion, Lissa, from the clutches of the plot to use her healing powers to take over the Moroi government.
I’m looking forward to a chance to see the film!
Book two picks up at the winter break with Frostbite. In Frostbite the students of St. Vladimir’s are taken on a ski trip after a Strigoi attack renders the academy unsafe for a time. Here you meet several new characters, including Janine Hathaway, Rose’s mother. The romance between Rose and Dimitri continues, despite his insistence that it should never have been and will never be. Another romance thickens between Lissa and the orphaned Christian, whose parents succumbed to the temptation of the Strigoi.
A handful of students sneak out of the ski resort in an attempt to seek out the lair of the Strigoi, a group that have chosen to go against Strigoi tradition and actually work together. Included in that group is Rose’s friend Mason, who is madly in love with her. This escapade by the students rides on the coattails of a proposed joint action by the Dhampir and some of the Moroi who wish to combine their physical prowess and magical abilities to combat the nefarious Strigoi.
Rose, against the wishes of Dimitir and behind the back of her mother, takes Christian and follows Mason and his group in a rescue attempt. An attempt that soon needs to be rescued as well. It is here that the reader gets a real glimpse of the magical abilities of the Moroi and how they can be used in combat to assist the Dhampir in defending against the Strigoi and maybe even going on the offensive.
Shadow Kiss, book three in the series, picks up shortly after Frostbite. In it Rose, Lissa, Christian and the rest of the students at St. Vladimir’s try to pick up the pieces after the attack on the school and the loss of friends, including Mason, during their winter break.
With a trial looming over the heads of the Moroi and the memories of Striggoi attacks very fresh in the minds of everyone at St. Vladimir’s, there is little hope of the students ever truly feeling safe again. Lissa and Christian’s romance continues to build, parallel to the romance between Dimitri and Rose. The Moroi and the Dhampir continue to be at odds with each other over whether they should combine their physical skills and their magical abilities to better defend themselves against the Strigoi.
As the year continues and the students attempt to go back to normal Rose and Lissa find themselves dealing with a new problem. Several students have shown up to class with black eyes, burns, and other minor injuries – many being taken to the infirmary. But none of them is talking about how their received their injuries. When Lissa is approached by other Moroi students wanting to band together to use their abilities as an offensive tool against the Strigoi Rose finds herself using the strange bond that exists between them to rescue her from their initiation ritual. And winds up rescuing one of her frienemies from Lissa instead.
Before the can address the issue with the school’s administration another Strigoi attack is launched against the school and all hell breaks loose. The raging battle shows that the Moroi are more than a match for their mortal enemies when they combine their efforts with their Dhampir guardians to protect the children. Janine returns along with many other guardians in the after math of this massive attack and a plot to go on the offensive ensues. You’ll have to read the books to find out what exactly happens. It surprised me, I’m sure it will surprise you.
I’m patiently waiting for my prison guard friend to bring me the next three books in the series so I can find out what happens to Rose and Lissa and their friends.
ADDENDUM (06/20/14): I was able to find an online source for watching the movie free. I watched it. I enjoyed it, but I was disappointed. Mark Waters and his writers took things a bit too much towards the satire side of things, making the characters out to be parodies of high society. As a stand alone, without having read the books I think the movie would have been fine. Having read the books, I was disappointed in how the characters were portrayed.
Zoey Deutch does a fair job as Rose; Danila Kozlovsky is a bit hollow as Dimitri; Lucy Fry (Lissa) does a great job of being a snobby upper crust bitch , but has a real trouble being believable as a friend. Gabriel Byrne, on the other hand, pulls off the nice-guy-turned-villain. Of the four, Byrne is the obvious veteran. Maybe in the sequel Deutch, Kozlovsky and Fry will have matured in their roles.