Let’s face it: the vampire time period that hit the world during the Twilight era is practically over, and many, many vampire books rose to popularity during that time, one of which was the highly rated and notoriously loved Vampire Academy Series by Richelle Mead. I never ventured farther than Twilight, but just a few months ago, I decided to give Vampire Academy a try. I collected all the books (they were easy to find at thrift stores), and waited until I felt like reading them. They stayed, patiently, on my shelf for a couple of months until about a week ago, when I felt compelled to start reading.
I read all six books in a week. This series, undoubtedly, is one of the most amazing, complex, and well developed series that I’ve ever read. I almost can’t even put it into words how phenomenal these books are, but I’ll try. This review will be mostly spoiler free, but there will be parts that give away a bit of details that occur in the series. Be aware before you read any further if you haven’t already read this series.
The books follow this order:
- Vampire Academy (★★★★★)
- Frostbite (★★★★★)
- Shadow Kiss (★★★★★)
- Blood Promise (★★★★★) (My personal favorite)
- Spirit Bound (★★★★★)
- Last Sacrifice (★★★★★)
The basic premise of the entire series is as follows. Rose and Lissa have been away from St. Vladimir’s Academy for two years due to a threat against Lissa. Lissa is a royal Moroi vampire, and Rose is her guardian, bound to protect her. However, St. Vladimir’s guardians, including Dimitri Belikov, track them down and they are forced to return to the Academy once more to finish their education. Here, Lissa and Rose and all the other characters go through trials and tribulations that test their limits and sanities and abilities to exist in the vampire world. Friendships form, relationships blossoms, and trouble, of course, turns people’s worlds upside down.
Also, Lissa and Rose are bonded together, meaning that Rose can feel what Lissa feels, can hear what Lissa thinks, and can even see into her mind and experience what she does. But it’s only one sided. Lissa cannot feel Rose, see into her mind, or hear her thoughts.
That’s the basic overview without getting too much into plot details that spoil just what happens in each of the six books.
There are three different types of “races” in this series. First, there are the Moroi vampires—good vampires that can tolerate the sun a bit, need human blood to exist (but only take a bit so they don’t kill the humans and have regular “feeders” they feed off of), can eat regular food, and use magic from the elements—earth, water, air, fire, and a rare one: spirit, which Lissa has.
Then there are the dhampir. They are born from a mix of a human and Moroi vampire. They do not need blood to survive, can be in the sun, have strength and speed that Moroi don’t, and eat real food. Though dhampirs don’t have to, most are guardians over the Moroi. They protect the Moroi from the evil vampires.
And the evil vampires are called the Strigoi. They kill the humans they feed from, have no emotions other than to feel power, can’t be in the sun at all, and are killed by either being burned to death, being in the sun, or a stake through the heart. They are trying to eliminate the Moroi to gain power, and the older they get, the stronger they are.
This world building and overall plot explanations are mostly delivered and explained extensively in the first book, Vampire Academy, although Richelle Mead does describe these details (although not as thoroughly) in each book. Because it takes place in the real world, Mead didn’t have to describe things that weren’t necessarily “real” for us. It takes place in Montana, Russia, and/or Pennsylvania (depending on what book). The only setting buildups that Mead needed to explain were parts of Russia (where dhampirs and Moroi lived), the Royal Court in Pennsylvania, and the Academy in Montana.
When I first began reading Vampire Academy, I was afraid that I was going to DNF this book and the series because the writing seemed a bit juvenile. However, it quickly turned around and developed with each book. It became addicting, as cliché as that sounds. It was incredibly poetic and heartbreaking, yet witty and hilarious at other times. The dialogue between the characters was so natural and realistic and just purely funny. As Rose went through more and more and matured and fell in love and lost people she cared about, she lost bits and bits of innocence. As Rose matured, the “innocence” or the writing disappeared. The writing became more mature as Rose did. The writing style was a nice parallel to the content.
There were five main characters in this book that I’m going to give my thoughts on, including Rose, Lissa, Dimitri, Christian, and Adrian.
I loved Rose. She’s a complete badass who isn’t afraid to state her opinion and fight for who she loves. She’s witty and smart and strong, but still has her moments of vulnerability. She was the perfect narrator for the series. Some of my favorite parts of the novels were Rose’s witty comebacks and quirky remarks or sarcastic outbursts. They made either a tense scene more comfortable or a romantic scene more realistic. I think if there was any female character out there that I’d aspire to be like, Rose Hathaway would be it.
I had a complicated relationship with Lissa Dragomir at first. I liked her, but at times, I got annoyed with her and her actions. Sometimes, I thought she was selfish in a way, even though I don’t think Richelle Mead intended to make her seem selfish. At the same time, she’s sweet and passionate about who and what she loves. The friendship between Rose and Lissa, however, is what made me like Lissa as a character. I think Rose and Lissa had the best friendship in a series, hands down.
Dimitri Belikov, a guardian and Rose’s teacher and mentor, was my favorite character in the series. He’s a bit broody and serious, but also romantic and sometimes playful. Even though it’s not much of a spoiler, Dimitri and Rose fall in love. Their relationship made the entire series for me. I looked forward to Rose and Dimitri moments because Dimitri is so loving and protective of Rose. Like Rose, Dimitri is a badass and is described as a “god.” Even though Dimitri can be gentle with Rose and he undoubtedly loves her, he’s not afraid to tell her when she’s wrong. He’s the perfect match for Rose, and the perfect character.
Christina Ozera, Lissa’s love interest, is a dark and twisted guy whose parents turned Strigoi when he was young. Because of this, everyone sees him as the outcast and everyone is basically terrified of him, thinking he’s a Strigoi wannabe. Christian has this “I don’t care” attitude and is snarky and sarcastic, but he cares for Lissa so much that he’d literally lay down his life for her. I think his gentle nature and overall romantic side was the most surprising but most welcome. I adored Christian and his completely different personalities, but that made him so well-rounded and unique and lovable.
Finally, Adrian Ivashkov was the bad boy, player, and rich royal boy who everyone couldn’t take seriously. Adrian was a complete sweetheart, though. He has an addictive personality, and not only is he addicted to alcohol and cigarettes, but also people. But he’s hilarious and witty, and though people see him as lazy, he’s actually intelligent and is willing to put himself on the line for those he cares about. I rooted for him throughout the series—not for the character that Richelle Mead tried to ship him with (and it didn’t work, thank God), but for his overall well-being.
I feel like this entire series was the perfect mix of everything Young Adult with adult situations thrown in the mix. It’s perfect for high school age and adult ages, too.
And plot twists. Richelle Mead is the Queen of Plot Twists. There were multiple times in each book where the plot twist hit me so hard that I had to pause and just ingest everything that I’d just read. And they aren’t obvious, corny plot twists. They’re plot twists that enhance the story and make you come back for more.
The plot was what was so addicting about this series. I couldn’t get enough. I wanted to know what happened next, especially since each book ended on a cliffhanger. I can’t go into the plot without giving away spoilers, but let me just say that it’s addicting, and I read the entire series in a week. It was a perfect plot.
Even though each book earned 5/5 stars from me, and the series as a whole is a 5/5, there were some things that left a sour taste in my mouth, such as:
- The author’s treatment of Adrian. Certain things happened, especially toward the end, that I don’t think were fair to him as a character. I know he stars in Bloodlines, so I hope he gets a better ending than he got in this series.
- Richelle Mead constantly went over facts and events again and again in each book, such as Moroi, dhampir, and Strigoi explanations, and overall main plot points that had already been explained multiple times already.
- The treatment of Jill and Sydney at the end of Last Sacrifice. I know that these two are characters in Bloodlines, so like Adrian, I hope they get a better ending.
This series is amazing. I cannot stress that enough. If you haven’t read this series, I strongly encourage you to do so. Even if you aren’t into the whole “vampire thing”, there is still something in this series for you. It’s so much more than just vampires. It’s one of the best series I’ve ever read.
*All images came from Pinterest. My life without Pinterest would not be a life at all.
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