Two seventeen year old girls running away from school might not raise many eyebrows, but when one is the last living vampire of her royal line and the other her best friend and dhampir bodyguard, both vampire and dhampir society are scandalised. Dragged back under heavy protest, Rose Hathaway is frantic to protect Lissa Dragomir, not only from the rigours of high school life, but also from the very thing that caused them to flee St. Vladimir’s Academy in the first place.
I’ve not read Richelle Mead’s work before, so I had no expectations when I started Vampire Academy, the first book in this series. I’m not really one to take much notice of labels such as ‘Young Adult’ – if the story sounds interesting, I’ll give it a try and in this case it turned out to be a real treat.
Mead has a very clear style of writing that is both easy to read and very entertaining. I like the dry sense of humour that comes through in the story and the darker scenes evoked an emotional response in me.
One thing I found to be very well done was the explanation of the differences between dhampir/living vampire/undead vampire. That could have been extremely confusing but it was actually well explained and written as part of the story, so I didn’t feel jerked out of it, while you learn some essential history.
The characterisations are superb and pretty spot on in how I think teenagers of sixteen/seventeen would behave with a lot of responsibility on their shoulders. Rebellious on the one hand, seriously protective of a best friend on the other. The book is told from Rose’s perspective and she really stood out the most for me. Sarcastic and sassy but with so much love and empathy for her best friend Lissa. She manages to get in and out of all kinds of situations, some of her own doing because of her temper and nature, but others not of her own making. She handles herself well and thinks fast on her feet, even if she is losing. Lissa is a bit of an enigma, and I didn’t connect with her as well as I did with Rose early on, but that changed quite a lot as the story progressed.
The plot was good, not overly complicated but had enough mystery to keep me turning the pages. With a few shocks, tantalising forbidden crushes and very entertaining secondary characters added in, this book became a gripping and highly recommended read.