From the Ashes is a somewhat regular feature here at Somewhere Only We Know. I don't schedule these posts weekly or monthly, just do them as the situation fits. From the Ashes is my way of reviewing books I've read before I started my blog and therefore have not been reviewed on Somewhere Only We Know before. I am re-reading these books before my From the Ashes review.
Vampire Academy (Vampire Academy, # 1)
By: Richelle Mead
Published: August 16th 2007 by Razorbill
Genre: YA, Paranormal
Source: Personal Library (I own this book in multiple formats)
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Goodreads description--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 in danger...
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.
After reading Twilight, I went through a phase where I read every vampire book I could get my hands on. I initially borrowed the first three of these books from my sister-in-law, Holly @ Words Fueled by Love--those were the only ones available at the time. And then I pick up Blood Promise as a new release and got my own copies of Vampire Academy, Frostbite, and Shadow Kiss. Vampire Academy quickly moved to the very top of my list for favorite series, and it still remains in the number 1 position to this day.
I now own my own copies of each book in the series as well as the audio versions (that's how you can tell I really love a series), and I've gone through the series about half a dozen or so times. I even made a spontaneous trip to south Alabama to get my copy of Spirit Bound signed by Richelle Mead. This is another series that I've forced every single person I can to read. I've even made my husband listen to the audiobook of Vampire Academy. :) I can't help it. People NEED to experience this series.
I took notes this time through Vampire Academy, but I feel like my notes are just a jumbled mess of my reactions to certain parts of the book. But here goes...
Richelle Mead dives right into this wonderful, mysterious, and unique vampire world that she's created. The opening scene immerses the reader into the psychic bond that Rose and Lissa share and this world that the characters live in--which is somewhat ironic considering that Rose and Lissa aren't even at the Academy at this point.
The reader is also immediately thrown into the imbalanced relationship that Rose and Lissa have. Rose is the caregiver, constantly seeing to it that Lissa is taken care of. She is strong, loyal, compassionate, and feisty. Whereas Lissa comes off as weaker and needing to be taken care of. She is still, however, loyal and also compassionate. They have a friendship that is as much like being sisters as possible, and it is one of my favorite best friend stories that I've come across.
Enter Dimitri. *SIGH* Dimitri is and probably always will be my fictional boyfriend--and despite the fact that he's a super crazy good guardian and could totally kill anything that comes his way, he reminds me of my actual husband. Dimitri is crazy observant. He notices how much and how far Rose is willing to go to protect Lissa, and he's the only one who acknowledges Rose's capability. It was his faith in Rose that got him hooked into becoming her mentor in the first place. He wants Rose to become the guardian that he sees her capable of being, and just the fact that he's able to see it when no one else can makes him swoon worthy in my book. Dimitri makes Rose realize even more than she already did how important her task is and what she's willing to do to become the best guardian she can--for Lissa. Dimitri's wisdom is also one of his swoon worthy characteristics in my book. He is constantly letting Rose know that he's older, wiser, and more experienced than she is without making her feel worthless. He teaches, and she grows because of it.
Rose is exactly the leading female character that I love to read about. She is determined not to show any fear to her classmates and despite actually being afraid, she makes the decision not to be afraid anymore. She is no victim. She stands up and takes control of the situation--any situation. I've got to respect that. She holds up well under scolding even when it happens in front of Dimitri. Rose has attitude and sarcasm that I love because it reminds me of myself--though I'm not as blunt as Rose can be. She is witty and quick. Rose can be a bit of a bully in some places, but she has to take her fair share of bullying at the same time. Dimitri isn't the only observant one. Rose sees things in Dimitri that no one else sees. She sees what he struggles with, understands that he is lonely sometimes, and even when she's disappointing him, she shows him her ability to read him. She can be petty and is super impulsive, but I felt myself living vicariously through her. And she never stays immature for too long.
There are some blips on my radar for things that I don't know were flushed out enough or are straight out mistakes. At one point Rose says that they can't send messages through the bond. Perhaps that's because she hadn't quite developed the ability to get into Lissa's head at will at that point or because Lissa can't hear Rose, but they most definitely use that bond for a lot more than sending messages--in this book and in the ones to come. Similarly, I don't know that I buy the whole "we protect the Moroi in order to protect the dhampir species" thing. I guess I just don't understand the point of protecting a species that can't quite procreate alone. I mean I'm not saying let the dhampirs die off or anything, but I just think the logic is a bit flawed. And a flat out mistake in the book is that Vampire Academy say Dimitri has 2 sisters, but we learn from Blood Promise that he has more than that. I think 4 sisters, but at least 3. I'm sure others have picked up on this.
Anytime I start a new book or series, I'm on the lookout for who I think is going to be the love interest. My first time reading Vampire Academy, obviously I had Dimitri in my sights, but I also remember wondering if Jessie was going to be the lucky guy. Looking back on it, that's just a bit hilarious. That couch scene is one of the best scenes in the book, and while Jessie is all up in that kool-aid, it just really isn't about him so much. And when Mr. Neagy (sp?) reads the note that Rose and Lissa were passing back and forth in class discussing the events of "the couch scene"...HILARIOUS! First of all, the note reading is just so real. It's hilarious and I loved it and I still find myself snickering out loud when I read this scene.
Similar to Rose's, Christian's sense of humor is all sarcasm. I love it. And I often wonder if the fact that Rose and Christian are actually quite alike is the reason why Rose doesn't like Christian to begin with. (Yes, I know these aren't real people.) We often bump heads metaphorically with people who are "too" similar to us. Christian isn't shy about putting his feelings out there. He's not only willing to verbalize them, but he's also willing to show them by setting someone on fire--quite the display if you ask me. Christian's also observant. I was beginning to wonder how so many observant characters could be found in one book whereas so often I want to shout at characters and shake them for missing the obvious, but it makes sense that we watch those we find ourselves attracted to. And I love that Richelle Mead writes smart characters--even the secondary ones.
Lissa surprisingly is probably one of my least favorite characters in this book. I like her, I promise I do. As I said before, she's loyal and compassionate. I truly love how much she cares about animals--she reminds me of my friend Amanda. But she's definitely one of the weakest characters in the book. Granted, we learn the why of that throughout the story, and it makes sense. On the same note, I remember reading Vampire Academy for the first time and feeling like there was a part having to do with Lissa--I won't go into details due to spoilage--that just didn't seem to fit exactly, but after knowing the whole puzzle, it makes more sense now. (Man if that wasn't completely vague.)
Richelle Mead knew how this story was going to end before writing this book. I love when an author has that capability. She might not have known every minute detail from the beginning, but she weaves pieces of the puzzle together from book 1, Vampire Academy, carrying all the way through with them to book 6, Last Sacrifice. Without going into too much detail, Dimitri's running "lessons" come into use multiple times throughout the series and even multiple times in this book alone. The foreshadowing is there, present throughout the entire book--for the book and for the series--but it's subtle. Without knowing exactly what to expect from the upcoming books, the foreshadowing details would easily be passed by. Foreshadowing is a delicate balance of showing that the author knew the story from the very beginning versus spelling out to the reader what exactly is going to come. Richelle Mead works foreshadowing like magic.
There are many other things I'd like to discuss about Vampire Academy, but all of them are spoiler for anyone out there who hasn't read this series. (Are there actually people out there who haven't read this? Seriously? Pick up this book NOW...and don't stop at book 1, I promise...keep reading!) As I said before, Vampire Academy is still at the top of my list for favorite series. This is a MUST READ! Vampire Academy, even after reading it half a dozen or more times, still gets 4.5 Stars from me! Have you read Vampire Academy? If so, what did you think? Let me know!