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Synopsis:

The first book in Richelle Mead’s brand-new teen fiction series – set in the same world as Vampire Academy.

When alchemist Sydney is ordered into hiding to protect the life of Moroi princess Jill Dragomir, the last place she expects to be sent is a human private school in Palm Springs, California. But at their new school, the drama is only just beginning.

Populated with new faces as well as familiar ones, Bloodlines explores all the friendship, romance, battles and betrayals that made the #1 New York Times bestselling Vampire Academy series so addictive – this time in a part-vampire, part-human setting where the stakes are even higher and everyone’s out for blood. – goodreads

Publisher: Razorbill

Main Characters:

  • Sydney Sage
  • Adrian Ivashkov
  • Jill Dragomir
  • Eddie Castile

Genre: Young Adult, Vampire, Paranormal

Pages: 421

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Thoughts:

At last! After waiting about a year longer than the other fans, I finally got myself a copy of this book! The bookstores and readers here in my country seem to have moved on from most of the vampire-related books and tortured the Vampire Academy fans before they got to release the paperback version of Bloodlines. I hated how this series didn’t get as much love from local bookstores but I guess I should be thankful that I didn’t have to order online and pay the very expensive shipping costs. If only Richelle Mead’s works had been given more exposure, then readers will know that vampire stories aimed at young adults don’t really suck after all. Oh well.

Perhaps it’s my tendency (or maybe this is an ability?) to forget story details so easily that I managed to treat this VA spin-off like the new series that it is. To be honest, I no longer seem to remember much of Last Sacrifice (VA’s last installment) which I read a little more than a year ago.

And so I read Bloodlines as if all I knew about the Vampire Academy series were stuff I picked out from Wikipedia.

Plot/Story

In this book, the main objective was to reintroduce the world of Strigoi and Moroi vampires as well as dhampirs. But most especially, the book aimed to shift the reader’s focus from the I-love-good-vampires point-of-view to that of a human Alchemist’s.

It must have been difficult for Richelle considering the risks it presented. For one, she was used to taking the role of Rose Hathaway–the half-human, half-vampire (dhampir) narrator of Vampire Academy–that being Sydney Sage, an Alchemist who was trained all her life to think of vampires and dhampirs as unnatural, evil creatures who must never interact with normal human beings, should have been difficult. Also, the readers who would surely read this book are Vampire Academy fans who love the Morois and dhampirs like their own families. It would be hard for them to think like Sydney and dislike or fear these unnatural creatures. Third, the story was narrated by a girl who probably has an obsessive-compulsive disorder and needed to grill her thoughts with lots of details. It was consistent to Sydney’s personality, but readers who prefer sass and action-packed plotlines did not like it that much.

“You are an exceptional, talented, and brilliant young woman. Do not ever let anyone make you feel like you’re less. Do not ever let anyone make you feel invisible. Do not let anyone—not even a teacher who constantly sends you for coffee—push you around.”-Ms. Terwilliger (to Sydney)

The high school setup was almost similar to Vampire Academy’s with a bitch being annoyingly bitchy because of a guy falling head over heels for one of the main characters. I didn’t mind–especially the way that part was resolved. Haha!

Somehow, I really enjoyed the tattoo subplot, as well as Trey and Ms. Terwilliger. I feel myself thinking that there are more to these characters than what the first book was letting on. I look forward to reading the next books because I’m pretty sure Richelle still has lots of surprises in store for her readers.

As much as I loved the book, I also found myself feeling like reading Sydney’s thoughts was exhausting because of her attention to details. There was enough intrigue, yes, but just like some readers, I had hoped for lots of action. Or at least more romance. The story wasn’t supposed to be action-packed but you get what I mean.

Characters

Sydney

I love her because I can relate to her more than I can relate to Rose. I am not quite as detail-obsessed as she was; but her socially awkward personality, the tendency to over think and the fear to break rules were some of the similarities we share. She was not as sassy and her story didn’t involve decapitating Strigoi but her occasional backtalk and outbursts were enough to endear her to me as a worthy heroine. In fact, even though some may say that her character was boring, I think Richelle was able to develop her in an interesting manner. She considers herself less than the ‘perfect’ Rose Hathaway of Vampire Academy but hey, it’s not always easy to relate to a perfect character. 😉 Her detail-overloaded brain sometimes annoys me but it definitely sets her apart from other heroines. 🙂

“I’d been raised to be practical and keep my emotions in check, but I loved cars.”-Sydney Sage

Adrian

Now, this is one of the most well-loved characters that I know. He was so utterly adorable and imperfect that one just can’t help but love him. He was morose and irresponsible in this book but there were hints that better things are to come for him. VA fans compare him to the perfect Dimitri Belikov but honestly, although I thought of Dimitri as hot, he didn’t endear himself to me as much as other fiction heroes I know of. Now reading Bloodlines, the fact that Adrian has brown hair, green eyes and a wounded soul, heck, I have a huge feeling I found my favorite YA hero. His full potential wasn’t released in this book (he has yet to reveal all of his wit and amazing personality) but his first appearance alone was enough to make me love him. I think (and hope) that he would be a more developed hero than Dimitri had been. 🙂

“Everything’s about my personal entertainment. The world is my stage. Keep it up- you’re becoming a star performer in the show.”-Adrian Ivashkov

Eddie

There was little chance for Eddie to shine in Bloodlines because the story did not quite allow it but I kind of liked the glimpses into his personality. Sydney’s attention to details made her think more of the other characters’ behavior and qualities to the point that Eddie’s grief over a dead friend, his protectiveness and his wish to redeem himself from his own eyes kind of touched me more than I thought they would.

Jill

She was the youngest and probably the one with the most number of insecurities. I am not going to blame her because I know a major reason for that but sometimes, I wish she would grow up a little. I am thankful that she was able to overcome some of her insecurities by the time the book was finished. I guess I also pity the fact that she wasn’t getting the kind of normal life she needed (wanted?). I really hope her personality gets developed until she was made worthy to be called princess.

Writing Style

Thinking about it, Richelle Mead is probably one of the authors I trust to deliver a good book. I like how she writes and although she seemed more adept at writing in a manner that’s witty, sassy and action-oriented, I think that she was able to pull off Sydney’s narration. There were times when the constant reminder that vampires are unnatural and evil has been repetitive and annoying but at least it was consistent to the character—which, I can forgive. Some readers said that they couldn’t finish the book because they didn’t like Sydney, because it’s boring or because of any other reason. It took me a longer time to finish it than I originally intended (it was indeed boring at times) but if it’s a good author who’s writing, I really don’t think it’s worth not finishing the book. You won’t find many good YA authors who write in first person these days.

I find myself thinking of whether she should have pursued the third-person point-of-view or not. But then again, something tells me that third person isn’t something Richelle could pull off as easily as first-person. So I guess I’m trusting Sydney to narrate the series well.

Also, I hope Richelle won’t use the Sydney-is-sent-to-reeducation-center-then-she-escapes-and-saves-the-world formula because it is painstakingly similar to the Rose-gets-into-prison-then-she-escapes-and-saves-the-world plot of the Vampire Academy series. Although I trust her as an author, I fear that the publication chronology of the two series will make Sydney a shadow of Rose if that’s how the Bloodlines books will end up. And I really don’t want that to happen.

To conclude, I wouldn’t judge the series yet with just the first book but I’d say that I find this introductory installment a worthy read. If you haven’t read the Vampire Academy series, don’t fret. I’m pretty sure you can enjoy the book even without knowing much about Rose or Dimitri. This series obviously takes on a different road and I don’t think I am disappointed. 🙂

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