Richelle Mead, August 2007, Razorbil, 332 pages.
Synopsis from Goodreads:
St. Vladimir’s Academy
isn’t just any boarding school—it’s a hidden place where vampires are
educated in the ways of magic and half-human teens train to protect
them. Rose Hathaway is a Dhampir, a bodyguard for her best friend Lissa,
a Moroi Vampire Princess. They’ve been on the run, but now they’re
being dragged back to St. Vladimir’s—the very place where they’re most
Rose and Lissa become enmeshed in forbidden romance, the Academy’s
ruthless social scene, and unspeakable nighttime rituals. But they must
be careful lest the Strigoi—the world’s fiercest and most dangerous
vampires—make Lissa one of them forever.
I have shied away from vampire books as they generally are not for me, but I kept hearing about Vampire Academy from different people, so decided to try it and was pleasantly surprised. Maybe because it is about vampires in a whole vampire society, not how they interact with humans, I'm not sure, but the vampire part of the story was not in the forefront. Instead, it was about these kids with unique challenges in a boarding school, who happen to be vampires and half-humans training to protect the vampires.
Mead does a good job of creating the world of this boarding school, the routines, the cliques, the bullying, the politics and the pettiness. Even though many of these are taken to the extreme, I'm sure most teenagers will relate to these characters. There is even romance and adventure.
I really liked Rose and the story is told from her point of view. She is strong, gutsy, feisty, and no nonsense. She also shows some really good growth in the book. I loved her friendship with Lissa, her best friend. Their connection is so interesting, but I also loved reading a book that is largely about the friendship of these two girls. All of the other story lines, the romances and the drama, supported this major theme.
Lissa is a great foil for Rose, part of a whole other social circle. There is a story line where she has self destructive tendencies that I think the author handles really well and matter of factly. She goes into the reasons, the emotions, and the fact that she ultimately needs help beyond what her friend can give her.
Actually, there are several issues mentioned in the book, such as sex, drugs and drinking. These seemed authentic to me to how teens act and I liked how Rose thought about where her boundaries were for these things.
I enjoyed reading this book and would definitely recommend it, especially to teen girls.
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