Tuesday, 23 June 2009

Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead

"Only a true best friend can protect you from your immortal enemies...

Lissa Dragomir is a Moroi princess: a mortal vampire with an unbreakable bond to the earth's magic. She must be protected at all times from Stigoi; the fiercest and most dangerous vampires - the ones who never die.

The powerful blend of human and vampire blood that flows through Rose Hathaway. Lissa's best friend, makes her a Dhampir. Rose is dedicated to a dangerous life of protecting Lissa from the Strigoi, who are hell-bent on making her one of them.

After two years of illicit freedom, Rose and Lissa are caught and dragged back to St. Vladimir's Academy, hidden in the deep forests of Montana. Rose will continue her Dhampir education. Lissa will go back to being Queen of the elite Moroi social scene. And both girls will resume breaking Academy hearts.

Fear made Lissa and Rose run away from St. Vladimir's - inside the Academy's iron gates, their world is even more fraught with danger. Here. the cutthroat ranks of the Moroi preform unspeakable rituals, and their secretive nature and love of the night creates an enigmatic world full of social complexities. Rose and Lissa must navigate through this dangerous world, confront the temptation of forbidden romance, and never once let their guard down, lest the Strigoi make Lissa one of them forever."

The Vampire Academy series is written in first person, with Rose as our protagonist. She's sassy and rebellious, but with a darker, more serious edge that clearly shows she understands a lot more about being an adult, and her role as a guardian, than you would initially assume. But she doesn't always show it. She's still got a fair bit of growing up to do, but you can see the potential in her even in this first book, and see the changes that are starting to come.

Vampire Academy starts strongly and doesn't let up. The world created here is vivid and intense, drawing you straight in to it and making it easy to get lost in. All the characters are well thought out and you get a really good sense of them in very little time. The plot flows quickly and smoothly adding to its can't-put-down nature. There are some really great one liners as well, creating a few good laugh out loud moments that you feel as much as the heartache and pain Rose goes through.

There is plenty of forbidden romance going on, but it's handled well and although romance is a good sized portion of the series, it is not the only thing. Rose is independent and doesn't spend all her time mooning after her (very tall, hot and Russian) mentor, Dimitri Belikov. It's pretty entertaining watching Lissa's romantic life through Rose's eyes too. Much more closely than a best friend should watch at times, something you'll understand reading the book.

Vampire Academy is the first of six books, and it's a fantastic start to something that so far only gets better. The follow up titles, Frostbite and Shadow Kiss are out now, with the fourth title, Blood Promise, due August 25th. They may be young adult titles, but they are edgy and have enough depth to them to keep adult fans of the urban fantasy genre hooked too. Not a series to be missed! 10/10

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