Science fiction and fantasy
by Richelle Mead
At St. Valentine's Academy everyone is either a Moroi or a dhampir. However, that doesn't make the place exempt from the usual jealousies and cliques of high school. Short-tempered Rose is put on probation by a hostile headmistress, so if she steps out of line she faces expulsion. But she's heavily provoked by the various people who don't want her around, or who feel slighted by her in some way. This is teenage angst with added fangs. There are characters with depression and family issues, and it's all dialled up to eleven due to the magical and supernatural elements.
Everyone at the academy is paranoid about attacks by Strigoi, so their lives are very regimented, as if they're under constant siege. There's something creepy about the hierarchy between the Moroi and the dhampir, who are supposed to devote all their lives to protecting the Moroi. This novel doesn't explore the rights and wrongs of their social structure, which seems stuck in the past. This omission surprised me, but perhaps that's for a later novel in the series. Instead there's a lot about Rose's crush on her older mentor, and about who is dating which guy.
Vampire Academy is realistic about young people's relationships, in that not all of the main characters are virgins. There are one or two steamy sections, but nothing I would consider particularly spicy. This is still YA, albeit at the older end of that spectrum.
Rose is feisty and reckless, so I found her mostly likeable. But she's impossibly beautiful compared with almost everyone else in the story, and she has curves that none of the Moroi can imitate. In spite of this she's also tough and super-athletic. In short, she's quite the Mary Sue.
Vampire Academy is a fast, undemanding story. It's exciting because of the life or death nature of Lissa and Rose's struggles, but Rose's sharp tongue and snappy dialogue make it into quite a light read. This novel isn't as laugh-out-loud funny as Buffy or as scary as The Strain series, but it's entertaining in its own way.
12th July 2014
If you like this, try:The Dead Girls' Dance by Rachel Caine
Claire Danvers dislikes vampires, but finds vampire hunters an even scarier breed. The second in the Morganville Vampires series.
Glass Houses by Rachel Caine
Claire Danvers is worried about missing class. But in a town full of vampires she has more to fear than bad grades and parental disapproval.
Twilight by Stephenie Meyer
When Bella moves to the small town of Forks she notices Edward Cullen is not like other young men.
Review © Ros Jackson
Source: own copy