REVIEW: Vampire Academy (Vampire Academy Book 1) by Richelle Mead (@RichelleMead)

Lissa Dragomir is a Moroi princess: a mortal vampire with an unbreakable bond to the earth’s magic. She must be protected at all times from Strigoi; the fiercest and most dangerous vampires–the ones who never die.
The powerful blend of human and vampire blood that flows through Rose Hathaway, Lissa’s best friend, makes her a Dhampir.  Rose is dedicated to a dangerous life of protecting Lissa from the Strigoi, who are hell-bent on making her one of them.
After two years of illicit freedom, Rose and Lissa are caught and dragged back to St. Vladimir’s Academy, hidden in the deep forests of Montana. Rose will continue her Dhampir education. Lissa will go back to being Queen of the elite Moroi social scene.  And both girls will resume breaking hearts.
Fear made Lissa and Rose run away from St. Vladimir’s – inside the Academy’s iron gates, their world is even more fraught with danger.  Here, the cutthroat ranks of the Moroi perform unspeakable rituals and their secretive nature and love of the night creates an enigmatic world full of social complexities.  Rose and Lissa must navigate through this dangerous world, confront the temptation of forbidden romance, and never once let their guard down, lest the Strigoi make Lissa one of them forever…

So far, Vampire Academy has been one of the biggest surprises I’ve had in my entire reading career.  Seriously.  One of my Top 10 sleepers.  By sleepers, I mean I really expected it to suck.  I expected something cheesy.  Something straight out of the vampire fiction/urban fantasy cookie cutter drawer.  I am extremely happy to report that this is not the case.

Now, I know I am a little behind the ball on the Vampire Academy series.  The cookie cutter theory above would be why.  Honestly, I hadn’t planned on giving this series a shot.  However, last month, when credit time rolled around on my Audible account, I decided to try it out.  I snagged the audiobook and I started it the first time shortly after Christmas.  Confession time – I only made it about 30 minutes in before I hit pause and until this past weekend, I never looked back.  Well, at any given time, I have a Kindle book or a physical book that is on my currently reading shelf and an audiobook that I listen to while I am working my day job.  Last Friday, I decided to take another whack at this one and this time I stuck with it. 
Once I got by all of my preconceived notions of what Vampire Academy was going to be and quit being a snot, I found that I got really sucked into the storyline.  Cookie Cutter it is not! 
Forget all of the vampire myth you are used to hearing!  Richelle Mead came up with her own brand of vamps.  There are all different kinds in this series and they all have a certain role to play within their own society.  Moroi, Dhampir, Stigoi – the hierarchy and societal workings that the author has created have an entire history that she has worked up.  There’s conspiracy and scandal as is found with any system of power.  There are also the run-of-the-mill teeneagers….except that they are, well, you know….vampires.  They have normal teenager problems and pressures.  The problems and pressures just have a slightly different spin than is found in high schools in our world. 
I loved the cast of characters!  Rose (Rosemarie Hathaway) is our main character and the story is told from her narrative.  She’s a spunky little Dhampir who is filled with attitude and I love it.  She’s got a good head on her shoulders and aside from a little stumble here and there, is good at heart too.  Lissa (Vasilisa Dragomir) is Rose’s best friend and she happens to be a Moroi princess.  Rose also happens to be her guardian-in-training.  They have a great relationship.  However, I found myself wanting to slap the crap out of Lissa a few times throughout the book because she’s kind of whiny at times.  Dimitri Belikov is considered a god among the guardian circles.  He’s a Russian Dhampir and gets assigned to be Rose’s trainer.  I’ll be honest, he’s kinda hot.  6’7”….brown hair….brown eyes….and a TOTAL badass.  The list of characters goes on an on.  There’s actually quite a few regular characters but these are our main guys.  Aside from my whiny issue with Lissa, I really liked the entire cast.  Very distinct personalities and great dialog between all of them. 
As for the story line, I felt it was very well written.  As a book aimed at the young adult crowd, it is easy to follow along with.  As I already mentioned, I love the “vampire lore” that Richelle Mead has cooked up.  It’s not the same’ ol, same ‘ol that we are all used to.  It’s very unique, dark and edgy.  The mystery to the plot is very well written as well.  I was completely unable to guess who the bad guy was and it is a HUGE surprise.  Well woven story and genuinely a fun read.  I am extremely glad that I opted to give this book a shot even though it didn’t hold my attention the first time I tried it out. 
My only word of caution – if you get the audiobook, be prepared.  The narrator sucks.  Not entirely sucks.  She’s great at nailing different voices and accents for the different characters.  However, some of the characters have horribly annoying voices – Lissa, Natalie, Mia, etc.  Lissa sounds like a 2 year old pumped straight FULL of helium.  Luckily, most of the book is Rose’s thoughts and dialog so you don’t have to suffer through too much of it. 
I give Vampire Academy 4 stars!  Now I am off to start Frostbite (book #2 in the series)! 
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  1. I have been putting off reading this for pretty much the same reasons and well cuz YA mostly drives me nuts. It’s botm in one of the groups I am in on Goodreads. You may have convinced me to bite the bullet and give it a try I also loved all the other Richelle Mead series so I don’t know why I expect this one to suck. Time to give it a shot I guess.

  2. […] that I am at the halfway point in this series, there is no turning back. I liked Vampire Academy (book #1) a lot, I loved Frostbite (book #2) but this one blows those two away. Shadow Kiss has an element […]

  3. […] MY REVIEWS FOR THE REST OF THE SERIES Vampire Academy – Book 1 Frostbite – Book 2 Shadow Kiss – Book […]

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