Author: Richelle Mead (author website)
Release Date: August 16th 2007 by Razorbill
Age Group: Young Adult
I hate long, drawn out love stories and contrived love triangles, and before I started Vampire Academy, I had totally made up my mind about exactly how all this was going to play out, exactly why it was going to annoy me, and exactly why I hadn’t read it yet, and wasn’t going to like it. Well, you guys... this is me: eating my words. Vampire Academy is, indeed, fantastic.
Vladimir’s Academy isn’t just any boarding school—it’s a hidden place where vampires are educated in the ways of magic and half-human teens train to protect them. Rose Hathaway is a Dhampir, a bodyguard for her best friend Lissa, a Moroi Vampire Princess. They’ve been on the run, but now they’re being dragged back to St. Vladimir’s—the very place where they’re most in danger...
Rose and Lissa become enmeshed in forbidden romance, the Academy’s ruthless social scene, and unspeakable nighttime rituals. But they must be careful lest the Strigoi—the world’s fiercest and most dangerous vampires—make Lissa one of them forever...
Vampire Academy's more than just alright. It’s in a whole other league to a lot of the young adult paranormal vampire fiction (I swear it has its own sub-genre) available. For me, one of the coolest things about Vampire Academy—and really, this applies to the entire cast of characters—is the authenticity of Rose. Her voice, her actions, her myriad of imperfections. I love that these characters feel like real teenagers, without being whiny or weak impersonations. What this series doesn’t have is stereotypes. Every character is real, fleshed out, with good and bad, light and dark. Even the most snotty, hateful of characters aren’t maniacally chuckling villains.
Vampire Academy portrays a believable teen world. The teenage characters that populate this world drink, they have sex, they talk like teenagers, and they care about teenage things. They make mistakes, and feel the consequences with a painful intensity, just like teenagers. A certain character who shall remain unnamed lets it go too far with a boy, and her classmates brand her slut. Fair? No. Realistic? Yes. But what makes this situation readable instead of depressing is said character’s core of inner strength.
Vampire Academy has a major plot point involving teen depression and self harm. I get really worked up about this issue (mental health, particularly depression), and feel the need to highlight that this is not teen angst, but real, authentic, crippling and overwhelming depression. Richelle Mead handles it admirably, and the character dealing with depression and self harm acts and expresses herself in a way that was so authentic and real, I wondered if Mead was drawing from personal experience. What makes this is amazing, though, are her friends. They don’t try to pretend it’ll all be ok, distract her, or try to cheer her up with glib comments, they [eventually] do the right thing, the right way: they seek help, from the right people, and support her.
At the core of Vampire Academy is something wonderful: a real, true, strong friendship between Rose and Lissa. YA authors take note: having friends and a support network is GOOD. A girl can have a friend who's there for more than backstabbing, a backdrop, or just making the heroine look good.
And all of this? Made even better by a smoking hot hero. I’m not going to get started on Dimitri, ‘cos I won’t stop. But SERIOUSLY. The scenes between Rose and Dimitri are smouldering.