3.5 out of 5 stars averaged
I've been meaning to review these for ages now and just somehow keep putting it off. I started this series last September and finished it up in March. (I took about a two month break in between.) I just finished Bloodlines, the first in the spin-off series and really enjoyed it. I also just got (yesterday in fact) the first graphic novel, so I'm kind of excited about that and it'll hopefully help me get this dang review written! Lol.
The first book in the series, Vampire Academy, gets started setting up a world that is half Gossip Girl and half Twilight (but the good half): rich vampire teenagers at a boarding school. Sounds fun right? There's a few twists though. There are two types of vamps: the Moroi ("good guys", tall, thin, pale, beautiful, usually royalty, have magic powers pertaining to the four elements of earth, air, fire, water) and the Strigoi ("bad guys", hard features, like to kill for their blood, hate the sun). Then we have the Dhampirs, half Moroi and half human, who are basically groomed to be Guardians for the elite Moroi. Dhampirs don't need blood like the other two, but do have some super-human strength and fighting skills. Also, the Dhampir girls look super hot to the Moroi guys because they're more curvelicious and apparently, kinda slutty. (Going by our main character, Rose.)
Rose is a Dhampir and Guardian in training at the Academy; her BFF is Lissa (Vasilisa), a Moroi Princess and the last of her family line, the Dragomir's. Rose and Lissa have run away from school for an unknown reason at the beginning of Book 1, but they are soon caught by the Guardians and taken back. Among the Guardians is Dimitri, whom Rose immediately lusts after. Dimitri Belikov is Russian, in his twenties, and according to Rose, too good-looking for his own good. Honestly, I was never crazy about Dimitri. I know, shame on me. There's also a neat twist with Rose and Lissa, but I'm not going to ruin it for those who haven't read it yet. If you're into all the vampire/teen/angsty romance books, I would give these a chance. And now, onto the next book, so spoilers abound! :)
Stoneybrook Middle School goes to a ski lodge hah!) Rose is pretty excited, until she finds out her mom is going to be there as a Guardian. They don't quite get along and haven't spent time together in a long time, so things are tense, to say the least. Throw in some love triangles (squares? hexagons? I don't know) and you got yourself a pretty great story.
There isn't a lot of action (aside from the romantic entanglement) until the last half of the book, but boy does it pick up then. A few of Rose's classmates (Mason, who has a huge crush on her) have decided to go off in search of the Strigoi and she, of course, decides to go after them. Instead of maybe telling some adults or something. Lissa's boyfriend, Christian, goes with her. I really like Christian. He's kind of a black sheep in the community, because of his parents, but he doesn't let it get to him. He also very strongly believes in the Moroi learning to protect themselves more, which is frowned upon to say the least. The ending of this book is a real nail-biter: spoiler, highlight to read: When Mason is killed, I screamed in my head along with Rose. I was so, so sad. :( He gave his life up to save Rose and the others, and she doesn't even deserve it, in my opinion. /end spoiler
She also has to deal with the school's Guardian tests, 6 weeks of shadowing a Moroi and defending them against staged attacks. Rose has assumed all along that she would be guarding Lissa, what with their spirit bond and such, so she's pretty shocked and pissed when she is assigned to someone else. I really enjoyed seeing Rose's relationship with this person grow and become a friendship. And now, I have to put up the Spoiler Owl, because going forward, there is some crazy stuff and I got slightly spoiled reading the series from Goodreads, so I don't want that to happen here in case you still haven't read the entire series! :)
Okay, let's talk about Dimitri, shall we? I just don't get it. The Rose and Dimitri thing. The only thing they seem to have in common or like about each other is they are strong fighters and both pretty hot. How is that a relationship? And yes, they finally "do it" in this one and it's very "meh" for me. I much prefer Christian and Lissa lol. So when the Strigoi attack the school towards the end and that one dude (sorry, fuzzy on the details) realizes Dimitri means something to Rose and that's the perfect way to get back at her...well, I sort of saw it coming. It's very much Buffy and Angel...star-crossed lovers, try to stay away from each other, finally have that moment of pure happiness, and dude loses his soul. I mean, come on.
While I still really enjoyed this one, I felt Lissa's story suffered greatly. The constant flashbacks/"trips" inside her head from Rose's point of view started getting old real quick. It was a poor plot device that was way over used. We also get a bunch of flashbacks to conversations between Dimitri and Rose that I'm not quite sure when they happened.
There were plenty of good parts though. I really enjoyed the time Rose spent at Dimitri's home, getting to know his family. I didn't think it was necessary, but I enjoyed it. We also get some new characters in Abe, a mysterious gentleman who is trying to get Rose back to St Vlad's, and Sydney, a young Alchemist which is basically a group sent to protect humans from the vamps. I really liked both of them and was excited to see more in the future books. (And spinoffs)
And then there's Strigoi Dimitri. Ugh ugh ugh...I'm sorry, I just did not like it. Spoilers, highlight: I didn't like it when Rose got captured by Dimitri, I hated it when she went against her beliefs and became a "blood whore" (her words, not mine), and basically became an addict for weeks just so she could stay close to Dimitri. /end spoiler. Seeing Dimitri evil was not fun. When Angel turned into Angelus, at least I still liked him somewhat. I just couldn't make myself see any good in Dimitri. I am still very much Team Adrian and it sucked to see Rose treat him like a piggy bank and string him along. And then we get another huge cliffhanger. Double ugh.
Dimitri stalking Rose is just more creepy Angel/Buffy nonsense. And I think we all know that Rose will do anything to get him back to "normal", now that she knows there is a way. But seriously? Getting Victor Dashkov, the dude that nearly killed Lissa, out of prison and taking him on a wild road-trip to his mentally unstable brother? Worst.Idea.Ever. And yeah, okay, cool...Lissa was able to turn Dimitri back. But I'm glad he didn't want to be with Rose after that. She didn't deserve him OR Adrian. Thinking about sleeping with Dimitri is still CHEATING. I don't care if she "pushed the guilt aside". That doesn't make it okay. Ugh. Oh and hey, how about another huge cliffhanger? What's the deal with that anyway? Double ugh. Whew...went on a bit of a rant there, didn't I? :)
Rose is busted out of jail and hidden away with Dimitri and Sydney, the Alchemist, and tries to figure out who Lissa's long-lost half-sibling could be so that Lissa could actually have a chance at being Queen. Because, you know, an 18 year old is totes capable of that. Along the way she tries to find evil Victor again (because, of course, he ran away last time), hide her true feelings for Dimitri, pretend she isn't breaking Adrian's heart, and find a former teacher Ms Karp, who turned Strigoi on purpose to get rid of the Spirits, and maybe save her too. The ending is predictable, but if you've gone this far, you may as well finish them out. That's pretty much how I felt lol. And I know this review has taken a sharp negative turn, but I really did enjoy them at the time!