In Mead’s world there are two kinds of vampires – the “good” mortal vampires known as Moroi and the evil undead bloodsucking amoral Strigoi. Vampire Academy tells the story of Vasilisa Dragomir, a Moroi princess, and her half vampire half human guardian Rose Hathaway and the bond they share. This is actually the second time I have read Vampire Academy. The first time I read it was a few years ago, I remember thinking it was a fun read and that I would perhaps get round to reading the rest of the series some day. The second time I read it though, maybe in contrast to some of the books I’ve read recently, the characters just leapt off the page at me. I became so hooked on the series that I have been marathoning it. I’m currently on book four of six, with spinoff series Bloodlines in prospect. Expect more Vampire Academy reviews to follow.
What I liked
Three dimensional characters. I loved how Mead wrote both Lissa and Rose. I felt it was a very realistic depiction of young women on the cusp of adulthood, learning to deal with issues of love and life. Setting aside all the vampire issues, this series is grounded in the more global issues facing young people learning to deal with the adult world and adult relationships and moving away their families of origin emotionally. In a recent interview with Mead I learned that she was a teacher in a former life. I found myself nodding at that thinking that, yep, she really gets young people.
The worldbuilding. I understand Mead based her world on some old European legends of different types of vampires. I found the world she created fascinating and loved learning about it. It was nicely done that Lissa and Rose’s bond and Lissa’s magic is unusual in world so the reader is learning about it at the same time as them – often faster. I liked that the magic had real and lasting consequences and that they had to learn how to deal with those.
What I didn’t like
Dhampir career choices. It may seem strange but the one thing that had me ready to throw my eReader out the window was was the limited choice of career options for half human/half vampires like Rose. It’s made clear several times that the only choices a female dhampir has is a) to be a bodyguard for Moroi, b) to raise lots of dhampir kids as a single mum or c) to become a junkie prostitute. It was also rather disturbing just how subservient dhampir act around Moroi “they come first.” And very few dhampirs seem to question this?!? I mean, really, come on! Mead has said she based the world on early eighteenth century European legends. Those career options would make perfect sense in that time period. Of course, that is partly the point that Mead is trying to get across that dhampir/Moroi society hasn’t really evolved all that much since they originally came over from Europe. Presumably Lissa and Rose will be catalysts for change later in the series.
Of course the fact that I became so angry at the lack of career paths for, let me remind you, FICTIONAL characters, shows just how well Mead has done her job. If I weren’t so invested in the characters and the story I wouldn’t care.
Given the fact that I’m now marathoning the rest of the series it can hardly come as a surprise that I loved Vampire Academy and gave it five stars out of five.