The Vampire Academy Series by Richelle Mead
Read by Natalie 2009 - 2010
Natalie recommends it for anyone who wants an excellent YA Vampire story with good characters.
This series is without a doubt one of my favourite vampire series. While they are geared towards a young adult audience, they pack more punch and are better written than the Twilight saga. Not to mention that the characters in these books are not perfect, they do actually make mistakes, the women are not submissive idiots and well, this just makes it that much more believable and enjoyable. The story has an interesting spin on the Vampire genre with 2 sorts of Vampires: the evil and immortal Strigoi who drink blood and cannot go out in the sunlight and the Moroi, a mortal but friendly Vampire who drink blood, are only weakened by the sun and use the elements for magic. These clans are at war and the Strigoi are determined to either kill or turn all Moroi into their own kind. Standing in the way are the Dhampir, sworn guardians of the Moroi and fierce hunters of the Strigoi. It's here we meet Rose, a fiercely determined and strong Dhampir who has sworn to protect her best friend Lissa, a royal Moroi who is also the last of her line. All the books are told from Rose's point of view, although because of her "bond" with Lissa which was brought about when Lissa accidently healed Rose in death, she can jump into Lissa's head and we see the story occasionally from Lissa's perspective. Thrown into this mix is Rose's sexy Russian mentor/teacher/lover Dimitri who is himself a kick arse Dhampir guardian who believes in Rose when no one else does and is also her soulmate; Lissa's boyfriend Christian, an outcast member of another royal family whose parents willingly turned into Strigoi; the Moroi Queen Tatiana and her great-nephew Adrian who drowns his spirit use with cigarettes and alcohol and is in love with Rose; plus a host of other characters including Sydney the Alchemist, Abe and Janine – Rose’s parents and Tasha, Christian’s aunt. The story starts at St Vlad's Academy where both Moroi and Dhampir attend, although they undergo very different training, and gradually moves onto the Royal Court after graduation. In between Rose makes several journeys, first to rescue and potentially save Dimitri and then to find Lissa’s missing mystery sibling and clear her own name. In between all that she fights the blackness she draws from Lissa as a result of their bond, the confines of being a guardian, the heartbreak at having, loosing and finding Dimitri, the relationship she to tries and ultimately realises she doesn't want with Adrian and finally the Strigoi themselves.
I have really enjoyed all 6 books in the series, although the 5th I found to be the least enjoyable not only due to the weaker storyline, but also some extremely sad and heartbreaking moments between Rose and Dimitri and some behaviour from Rose that I just didn't think fit somehow. However, the final book gives all the Team Dimitri fans (myself included) a very happy ending to the series, which was a fantastic journey. While not everything gets tied up, there is a new series starting with Bloodlines in August 2011 which is sure to please anyone who was sad to see this series end (yes, again myself included). These books were originally going to be told in the third person, from multiple points of view and feature previous Vampire Academy side characters in major roles. Richelle has since confirmed that the series will now all be first point of view from Sydney's perspective and we can also expect cameos from Rose (and hopefully Dimitri too!). I guess overall the only thing I was slightly disappointed in was the lack of resolution regarding Dhampir and Moroi, which still continues to be a very class driven relationship. Although with Lissa in her new role, this may change in future books. If you like entertaining Vampire stories with strong male and female leads, I would highly recommend picking this up. And in a move that is sure to please all the fans, the movie rights have recently been bought for the entire series. For more check out Richelle Mead's website. With the release of the final installment in this series, Penguin Australia has put up an explanation for all those Last Sacrifice teaser videos!