Vampire Academy: A Graphic Novel

I’m not a huge fan of comics and graphic novels but there are a few I love, generally ones that have been created from books I love.  When I heard a graphic novel of Vampire Academy was being made, I was excited and had a lot of hopes for it.

I’ve just finished reading it and quite honestly, it exceeded my expectations.

The artwork is beautifully rendered by Emma Vieceli and I think she caught the characters really well.  I sometimes wonder if an illustrator has even read descriptions of  main characters let alone read the books, but I think a lot of attention was given to getting it right in this graphic novel and the characters matched the images I have in my head.  Lissa, Christian, Rose and Dimitri were all captured perfectly.

The scenes from the book were well chosen and adapted by Leigh Dragoon, it tells the main story of Vampire Academy neatly and has the key scenes which I would say were essential to making this a great experience and an enhancement to the first book.  Definitely one I will read again and again.

Whether a fan of graphic novels or just love the Vampire Academy series by Richelle Mead, this adaptation is a must.

Rating: ★★★★★ 

Book Information
  • Author: Richelle Mead
  • Illustrator: Emma Vieceli
  • Buy from Amazon (UK)

Last Sacrifice

Rose’s story is told across six books in the Vampire Academy series.  You can read all the reviews I’ve done for them before reading this one if you should so desire: Vampire Academy, Frostbite, Shadow Kiss, Blood Promise, Spirit Bound.

To say life is complicated for Rose Hathaway would be an understatement.  She is imprisoned and awaiting trial for a murder she didn’t commit, her father insisting she will not face trial and inevitable execution.  Abe seems to have something up his sleeve and all Rose’s friends seem to be in on it,  but they are determined to keep her out of it.  Once the plan is underway, she goes on the run with her ex-Strigoi ex-boyfriend Dimitri, and much to her surprise, Sydney the Alchemist.  Firm instructions are given for Rose to stay safe and hidden until the others can figure out who framed her and why, but safe and hidden aren’t in Rose’s vocabulary, especially not when her loved ones are at risk.  She has a plan of her own, one that could see Lissa’s royal family name restored.  Now she just has to convince Dimitri to go along with it, convince herself that Adrian is the one she wants to be with and convince everyone else that she hasn’t gone completely off the rails.  Simple really.

So here we are, on the last book to finish Rose’s story.  In the Vampire Academy series, we’ve watched her grow in just a few short years, from a young and impetuous teenager into a formidable and fiercely loyal guardian with no qualms about her duty to Lissa.  She’s known love, loss and rejection, she’s travelled the world to try and save the man she loves.  While she wants to be Lissa’s guardian she knows with some of the choices she had to make to keep the people she loved safe, that she would be deemed unsuitable to guard a Princess of Lissa’s stature.  Now she is on trial for a crime she is innocent of, but someone has gone a long way to make sure she will be found guilty.

Lissa has truly come into her own as a spirit user, being able to cure Strigoi and turn them back into their former selves.  Something that was once thought impossible, but her love for Rose and affection for Dimitri gave her the strength to fight for them.  Her confidence has increased with Christian’s love, the unwavering support of her friends and her shadow kissed bond with Rose, meaning the last of the Dragomir royal line is never really alone.

It’s been quite a journey and one I’m so glad I made.  Right from the first book, Vampire Academy, Rose has been an outstanding character; funny, determined, loyal and fierce and she has fast become one of my favourite heroines.  I love the fact that she isn’t perfect, she makes wrong choices, she gets confused by her hormones but she does her utmost to ultimately do the right thing.  Those she loves mean everything to her and she would do anything for them, especially Lissa.

While the point of view is always from Rose’s perspective, that she can see through Lissa’s eyes because of the bond, is a unique way of letting the reader know what is going on with her.  It works really well and as they spend a lot of time apart in this book but is essential you know what is happening back with Lissa, it was a clever way to achieve this.

The writing, as it has been all the way through the series, is consistently crisp, clean and easy to read.  The characters have always been consistent, their personalities solid and very real.

The plot in Last Sacrifice is simply outstanding.  I knew there would be a twist at the end but for the life of me, I didn’t see it coming.  I even went back and re-read to see if I’d missed any clues but no, nothing.  It was very well done.

The plot arc that connects all the books was also very good, often coming to full circles on a couple of issues.  Again, I thought it a very nice touch.

When the real action kicks off in this last book, it doesn’t let up til the end, carrying you with it until it’s inevitable conclusion.  That unseen twist, Lissa’s surprise and the last sacrifice pretty much finished me off and I had to break out the tissues.  I can give no higher praise than that.

While Rose’s Story may have ended with Last Sacrifice, there will be more from Vampire Academy to come and I can’t wait to see who it will be about next.  They will however have big shoes to fill to be comparable to Rose.

There is only one negative thing I have to say about Last Sacrifice and that is the Author’s note at the start.  Just one line took away any mystique as to whether Rose would survive.  I understand why the author’s note is there and for the most part, it’s appropriate, but maybe putting that part at the end with the acknowledgements would have been better.

That doesn’t stop it from being an incredibly engaging and exciting book, even so.

Rating: ★★★★☆ 

Book Information
  • Author: Richelle Mead
  • Buy from Amazon (UK)

Spirit Bound

Please be aware this review may contain minor spoilers.

For Rose Hathaway and Lissa Dragomir, it’s time to graduate and be let out into the real world.  A real world that has many dangers – Dimitri intent on hunting Rose down and if he can’t turn her, kill her.  A Queen that has her own plans for the last royal Dragomir and several people who resent Rose’s influence with Lissa.  When a chance to save Dimitri and potentially turn him back into the dhampir he once was is discovered, Rose and Lissa must break more laws than they ever dreamt to free someone who they helped imprison.  With friends and family willing to do what they can to help, what they set out to do, could be life changing for dhampir and vampire alike.

Given her experiences in Blood Promise, Rose feels like a much more mature character.  That’s not to say she has suddenly become a model student else she wouldn’t be the Rose we know and love.  Her wit is still sharper than any knife and she will bend as many rules as she needs to, to protect those she loves.  I expect nothing less!

Lissa has grown up quite a lot as well, I think being without Rose for a lot of the last book, even as difficult as it was for her, helped her be aware she isn’t without talent of her own.  Of course that goes along with realising how vulnerable she can be, but maybe being aware of that isn’t such a bad thing, losing that naivety only creates more strength in her.

I loved the run up to Rose’s graduation and her final trial.  I wanted to cheer as she went, proving to her teachers and peers, just how formidable she has become.  I was a little disappointed that not much was made of the vampire side of graduation but I guess since it’s Rose’s story and being a dhampir it made sense.

Now they are out in the real world, at the royal court and no longer students.  Lissa is the Dragomir Princess, the last of her royal line which makes her extremely valuable, and Rose has the unfortunate record and reputation of being a troublemaker but with excellent and proven guardian skills.  I wanted to protest every time someone wanted to pull the two apart which seemed to happen a lot.  Admittedly not all of Rose’s choices have been good ones but no one could doubt her devotion to Lissa.

The action starts as they realise Dimitri is still obsessed with either turning or killing Rose.  A chance comment in the last book leads to a real possibility of saving him, but the only way to get the information they need is to do something unthinkable and highly illegal.  Break out the man who kidnapped and tortured Lissa in the first book, who they also testified against to put him in prison in the first place.

The pace of the story really picks up as they need to get things moving and in place before Dimitri can catch up with them and take any chance of saving him out of the equation.  Rose being torn between Adrian and Dimitri is quite sad as Adrian is a great character and I believe Rose does love him, just in a different way to what she feels for Dimitri.  She may be a lot more mature now but she is still an 18 year old dhampir.

Where Lissa really comes into her own is when she defies Rose and learns some combat skills to be able to carry out her plan to save Dimitri.  Christian does as well to a certain extent, and their interplay as ex-lovers was funny and heartfelt. I just wanted to tell them to get back together already!

What follows is just simply breathtaking.  Lissa’s empathy and determination, Christian’s love for her and both of them prepared to do anything to help Rose.  That whole section of the book had me on the edge of my seat and hoping for the best but fearing the worst.  Outstanding emotional and heartbreaking writing, and I wish I could say more about it but that would be a major spoiler and I am struggling enough with the minor ones.

Mead has a real talent for putting in a whammy at the end of her books that leaves Rose imprisoned and on trial for High Treason.  A crime that the punishment for isn’t imprisonment, it’s execution.

And so the story remains utterly engaging and enthralling as we go into the final book in Rose’s series; Last Sacrifice.

Rating: ★★★★☆ 

Book Information
  • Author: Richelle Mead
  • Buy from Amazon (UK)

Blood Promise

Please be aware this review contains a few minor spoilers.

The time has come for Rose Hathaway to make a choice.  After the attack on St. Vladimir’s Academy left so many dead, injured, or missing, Lissa needs her more than ever.  Rose is frantic after Dimitri was taken and with her worst fears confirmed, needs to find him and give him the peace they both said they would have wanted, if the worst should ever happen.  Does Rose have the strength to leave the Academy and say goodbye to her best friend?  To cross countries in search of Dimitri and if she can, kill him for the final time.  In doing so, can she survive it.

Blood Promise has so many heartbreaking moments, I’m not even sure where to begin.  I thought Shadow Kiss was emotionally charged but this one is just on a whole new level.

Rose is such a wonderful character.  The amount of strength she has, the pain she has to go through and the determination to see someone she loves find peace is just amazing.  She is so well written she feels like a real person and I feel for her with everything she has to endure.  And she really does get put through it in this book.

I found Lissa’s feelings of abandonment very sad and it didn’t surprise me when she started to go off the rails.  You knew all wasn’t right with her, when new character Avery seemed to be trying to take Rose’s place.  I felt nothing good could come of it.  I did think Avery’s character was well written, just little hints but it was only really when you knew what she was up to that it added up.  It was also hard knowing Rose could see some of what was happening and it was just adding to the guilt she already felt about leaving.

A new organisation and character was introduced and I liked the concept.  It did seem strange that even though the living vampires and dhampirs kept themselves out of human society as much as possible, there needed to be something that allowed them to cross paths without too much trouble.  Enter the Alchemists.  Sydney is an interesting character and I thought the way her dislike of dhampir’s and vampires started to change over the course of the story was well done.

Dimitri.. aaah.  Those sections were the hardest for me to read, to see Rose come so far, so determined then almost give in and become what she dreads the most.  Dimitri as a Strigoi is just plain scary.  A nice touch, however, is that even undead he still feels a strong connection to Rose, even if it is now a broken and twisted thing.

The real strength of character in Rose came to the fore, when she realised Lissa was in serious trouble and she had to finish what she came to Siberia to do.  She still has a place in the living world, however tormented she felt about it, and that she still wanted to find peace for Dimitri through love and not hatred was very powerful.  It still wasn’t easy though.

Managing to save Lissa, even though she was thousands of miles away was brilliantly done.  Using her shadow kiss bond along with another spirit user, to do what she always promised; to protect her.

Rose’s last moments with Dimitri are the most heartrending and what she was prepared to do rather than be turned reduced me to tears.

An emotional, engaging and thrilling read.

Rating: ★★★★☆ 

Book Information
  • Author: Richelle Mead
  • Buy from Amazon (UK)

Shadow Kiss

Being a guardian to her best friend Lissa Dragomir, after graduation, is all Rose Hathaway ever wanted.  The psychic bond between them, gained when Lissa brought Rose back
from the dead, might be the perfect tool to protect her, but at what
cost?  Torn between the forbidden love for her tutor Dimitri Belikov and the
role of protecting her best friend, Rose might be forced to choose
between them.  When the unthinkable happens and undead vampires invade the Academy,
Rose goes above and beyond the call of duty and fights with everything
she has in her.  Will it be enough to save those she loves the most?

Shadow Kiss has a much darker feel to it than the first two books in the Vampire Academy series.  A natural and necessary progression I think, due to the way book two finished.  It was great to be able to start straight in on this novel and I felt it was all the more poignant for it.

Rose is once again the focal character and I have to say I absolutely love her.  She matures rapidly throughout this book due to both her experiences in Frostbite, and the trials she has to go through in this one.  She kicks butt with the best of them but I did fear she was starting to come apart at the seams.  I couldn’t help but feel for her as she tries to cope with her guilt, desire, responsibilities and dedication to Lissa on top of being in her final year as a novice guardian.

There are some interesting revelations about Lissa’s abilities and their bond, and Rose learns more about what it means to be shadow kissed and its repercussions.  Lissa is dealing with her own feelings, of being in an adult relationship, being the last living Dragomir and having to be wary of the schemes the Queen seems to be cooking up for her.  They both grow a little distant from each other which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but with their bond you know they will never truly be apart.

From their group of friends, characters are starting to stand out on their own; Lissa’s boyfriend Christian, Adrian who makes no bones about wanting Rose, and Eddie, steadfast, loyal and dependable.  All of them play a huge role in making this series as good as it is.  Then there is the forbidden and gorgeous Dimitri.  I can’t help it, I love him too!

The pace felt a little different in Shadow Kiss, starting almost slowly and then as certain events happened, it got kicked up a gear until the end.  And by the end, wow.

The story, complemented by that exciting pace, was just amazing.  Emotional, compelling, passionate and painful, you felt every ounce of it in the writing.  As crisp, clear and easy to read as the first two, but with two very intense scenes that just blew me away, each for very different reasons.  I was in tears for one of them, make of that what you will!

Rating: ★★★★☆ 

Book Information
  • Author: Richelle Mead
  • Buy from Amazon (UK)

Frostbite

With the vampire community horrified and on full alert after a vicious and deadly attack on one of the royal families, St. Vladimir’s Academy is relocated for the holidays to a secure ski resort.  Rose is glad to be away from the school and with Lissa, but trouble seems to follow her wherever she goes.  Her feelings for her Guardian tutor may be mutual but can never be acted on, a close friend confesses his own feelings for her and when the amusing and aristocratic Adrian enters the scene, she is more confused than ever.  After a terrible lapse in judgement sends people she cares about into danger, Rose feels responsible and falls back on the training she has had for most of her life.  Protect at all costs.

It was good being able to dive straight into book two of the Vampire Academy series.  I enjoyed the first book a great deal and it left me wanting more.

Rose is the focal character once more and picks up where the first novel ended.  Just as an aside before I get into it, I thought the Prologue was nicely done, a recap of the previous book but entertaining enough to read even if you had already read Vampire Academy.

It was really interesting how both main characters developed throughout this story.  I admire the way Richelle Mead has taken teenagers around seventeen, with hormones and angst, and merged it with great responsibility and peril.  Maturity can and often does go out the window but I loved the reasoning behind it and thought it quite clever.

Rose and Lissa’s friendship gets more complicated and conflicted as more is revealed about Lissa’s abilities and what her bond with Rose means.  Rose has a unique perspective on life and it can cause amusing results as she uses sarcastic wit almost as a weapon to get out of awkward situations.  As her extra Guardian training with her tutor, the lovely Dimitri progresses, she certainly starts to kick some serious butt and becomes even more formidable.

The two main characters are supported by a group of friends and their relationships play a big part throughout the story.  Even with unrequited and forbidden love, they definitely make the book well rounded and enjoyable.

Mead’s writing was once again clean, crisp and easy to read but spared nothing with the emotional and action scenes.  They had a lot of impact and one scene in particular was very shocking and brought tears to my eyes.

Any book that grips me enough to be able to do that is definitely recommended!

Rating: ★★★★☆ 

Book Information
  • Author: Richelle Mead
  • Buy from Amazon (UK)

Vampire Academy

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.

Rating: ★★★★☆ 

Book Information
  • Author: Richelle Mead
  • Buy from Amazon (UK)