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Sunday, July 19, 2015

Series Review: Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead

Publisher: Razorbill
Published: 2007-2010
Pages: 2,692
Source: Gifted
Rating: 3 Stars


Synopsis for Vampire Academy, Book 1:
Lissa Dragomir is a Moroi princess: a mortal vampire with a rare gift for harnessing the earth's magic. She must be protected at all times from Strigoi; the fiercest 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 Lissa one of them.
After two years of freedom, Rose and Lissa are caught and dragged back to St. Vladimir's Academy, a school for vampire royalty and their guardians-to-be, hidden in the deep forests of Montana. But inside the iron gates, life is even more fraught with danger... and the Strigoi are always close by.
Rose and Lissa must navigate their dangerous world, confront the temptations of forbidden love, and never once let their guard down, lest the evil undead make Lissa one of them forever...

In short: The Vampire Academy Series by Richelle Mead was an easy and entertaining read, though I would have preferred it to be much higher stakes (no pun intended).
Despite not loving the first Vampire Academy book when I read it two years ago, there was a definite addicting feeling to the story and the promise of more exciting plot-wise action to come, and so I kept reading and have now finished the entire series two years later. I had been hopefully expecting the subsequent books in the series to move away from the largely trivial plot of the first book and delve into a deeper, higher stakes storyline for the rest of the series. And thankfully, it does. Though not to the extent that I had hoped.

I guess what I expect from long over-reaching speculative fiction series like this one, is an epic high stakes plot in which the safety and lives of many are threatened and the hero/heroine has to find a way to vanquish the bad guy despite bad odds. Instead, what I got with the Vampire Academy Series was conflicts that revolve around a very small community of people involving royal vampires and their guardians. The conflicts always seemed so minor to hinge an entire six-book series on and a lot of the time I found myself wondering, "And I should care about this why?"

Thankfully, Richelle Mead did manage to make me care enough about the characters for me to care about where the story was going, at least somewhat. The major conflict of the series revolved around the fate of Rose and Dimitri's relationship and though I much prefer non-romance-centric plots, I did like these characters enough to feel invested in their romance. I do think that perhaps this plot line could have been handled better though, as it was largely played out come the fifth book, Spirit Bound, leaving the final book, Last Sacrifice, rather anti-climactic.

I have no regrets for seeing the series through to the end, however. Overall, despite the often trivial nature of the plot and the poor execution of the storyline, the Vampire Academy Series is a pretty entertaining read. Richelle Mead's writing often comes off as very amateurish and unimpressive to me, and yet at the same time it is this simplistic writing style that makes the series so easily readable. I would have preferred a much higher stakes version of the series, like the other speculative fiction series that I love, but at least it made for an easy and entertaining read.

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26 comments :

  1. This series used to be my favorite series back in high school, but now I have other favorites, haha! I'm sad that you didn't like this as much as I did, but great review! :)

    Kim @ Divergent Gryffindor: BLOG || VLOG
    Most recent posts: Review: Made You Up

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    1. Kim, I'm sure I would have loved the heck out of this series had I read it back in high school before the advent of so many other vampire stories, as well!!

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  2. I did really enjoy this series, but I agree with you about the first and last books. The first book was very meh, and I sort of only continued the series because I kept hearing good things. Things did improve a lot for me, but the last book sadly was anti-climactic! It's a shame, but I never like last books in series much so I was sort of expecting it. But I've just spotted on your Goodreads that you gave Blood Promise the highest rating - that was my favourite of the series as well! A lot of people say that it's their least favourite, but I enjoyed it because the tone was so different and it was a lot darker. Great review of the series, and glad you enjoyed it overall even if you didn't love it.

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    1. Oh yes Shadow Kiss and Blood Promise were my favourites (rated 4 Stars each) because they were total game changers! I'm surprised to hear that that is a lot of people's least favourite. I felt like Blood Promise was the least trivial of the lot...

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  3. I also would expect a six-book fantasy series to have a more epic scope than it sounds like Vampire Academy does. That's too bad, although at least it was a mostly entertaining read for you! Do you think you'd try reading Mead's spinoff series?

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    1. I might try the spinoff series because I really did enjoy myself with this one - but I can't say it's terribly high on my priority list.

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  4. I really loved this series, but the Bloodlines series is probably more up your alley, and my favorite. (have you read that? I can't remember). However, I did really enjoy the VA books...

    Kate @ Ex Libris

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    1. Oh yes? I wonder why Bloodlines might be more up my alley. I'm willing to give them a go because I liked the VA books overall, but I can't say I'll be getting to them terribly soon.

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  5. Well said, Aylee! I'm actually reading LAST SACRIFICE right now (I think we basically read this series at the same time, haha!) and I have to agree with everything you've said. Mead's writing is definitely amateurish and not complex at all, but that's honestly what makes me flip the pages so quickly. The plot & characters are definitely entertaining and very fun! Are you thinking about continuing to BLOODLINES? I think I might, just because I'm curious about Sydney, but I might take a one-year break or something. Who knows. Awesome series review, Aylee!

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    1. Yeah, what it lacks it nuance and complexity, it definitely makes up for in mindless readability! I am thinking I'll continue with Bloodlines at some point but like you, I don't think I'll start it up right away.

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  6. Stunning review Aylee :D Yay for finishing this series :) I have yet to start it, sigh. I do own all the books, though. One day. Maybe. They seem a bit too boring, from what you say, lol :p But I'm so glad you don't regret reading them; that is a good sign :D I'm sorry that they weren't perfect, though. Thak you for sharing about it sweetie :)

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    1. Oh, well just because I found it to be a bit trivial at times doesn't mean that many other people weren't absolutely in love with it and maybe you will be one of those people too! Actually, I'd be curious to hear what you think of it, Carina.

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  7. I loved this series! But I must say, I'm enjoying the Bloodlines series even more!

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    1. That's interesting! I can't say I'm a huge fan of Sydney's, but maybe I could grow to like her...

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  8. Glad to hear you enjoyed even if you wanted a bit more.

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  9. I hated the first book, Aylee (you can read my review here: http://booksinthespotlight.blogspot.com/2012/06/vampire-academy-vampire-academy-1.html). It gave me huge reader guilt because everyone else loved it except me and then I had a long reading slump. I decided I wasn't going to waste my time reading up to book 3 where apparently all of my issues would be resolved.

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    1. I'll have to read that, I'm definitely curious if your thoughts sort of aligned with mine when I read the first book. I'm sorry it put you into a reading slump!

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  10. I love that you did a whole series review^^ I should really do this myself with some of the series I haven't read yet...like this one. I have a feeling that this is a series that would have been better suited for a teenaged or newer reader. Now that you've read so many other quality books and series, it probably comes off more bland that it would have back then. I'm reading a comparable series now and I feel like I should have finished it back when I loved the first book because now I'm more 'meh'

    That being said, I'm glad that you saw this one through and that you managed to enjoy it, despite the romance-centric plot-focus. I'm still planning on getting into the series eventually, even though I have the distinct feeling that I'll feel just like you did about it. Lovely review for the series hun! xx

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    1. Yes, definitely. I feel like I would have adored this series to death had I read it in my teen years, or had I read it before reading a slew of other vampire novels. Because it just falls short now when compared to other more serious and epic series I've read. I'd be curious to hear your thoughts on this one if you ever get the chance to read the series through. Thanks, Miche!

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  11. I quit after the first one. It didn't make that big of an impression on me and then I had heard about the triangle. I know everything that happens though lol

    I think I might try the spin off series with Sydney at some point.

    Karen @For What It's Worth

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    1. Heh, yeah for what it's worth (lol) I was happy I decided to continue on despite not loving the first book because it does get better... but I'm not sure it's worth everyone's time.

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  12. I read this series some two years ago and love it then. If I am to reread it now (which I won't, but still), I would have the exact same thoughts as you. Like you, I prefer non-romance plots as well. I do feel that the Rose and Dimitri relation was stretched too far, but then again, most readers love this series for the star couple. I preferred the side couple more. I'm glad you, like me, gave this series a try and it was entertaining. Nice review!

    Sarika @ The Readdicts

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    1. Hmm, yes my thoughts exactly. I wish I had read it back when you did!! I can totally see why Rose and Dimitri made a star couple because I loved them together too, but I guess I just wanted more from the series as well!

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  13. I've been on the fence about this series but your review makes me think I should just pass. My TBR is too big for a series that seems just ok. Thanks for helping me decide!

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  14. gan good job, this article is very interesting to note, cool deh,, of course we have new insights that we get after reading it, thanx yah :-)
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