Published 2011 421 pages
Reviewed by Georgia
Summary (from the book jacket)
Sydney’s blood is special. That’s because she’s an alchemist –one of the group of humans who dabble in magic and serve to bridge the worlds of humans and vampires. They protect vampire secrets – and human lives. But the last encounter Sydney had with vampires got her in deep trouble with the other alchemists. And now with the allegiances in question, her future is on line.
When Sydney is torn from her bed in the middle of the night, at first she thinks she’s still being punished for her complicated alliance with dhampir Rose Hathaway. But what unfolds is far worse. Jill Dragomir – the sister of Moroi Queen Lissa Dragomir – is in mortal danger, and the Moroi must send her into hiding. To avoid a civil war, Sydney is called upon to act as Jill’s guardian and protector, posing as her roommate in the unlikeliest of places: a human boarding school in Palm Springs, California. The last thing Sydney wants is to be accused of sympathizing with vampires. And now she has to live with one.
The Moroi court believe Jill and Sydney will be safe at Amberwood Prep, but threats, distractions, and forbidden romance lurk outside – and within – the school grounding. Now that they are in hiding, the drama is only just beginning.
Bloodlines is a spin off from the Vampire Academy Series. As such some of VA’s secondary characters come back and take centre stage action here. This is also an entirely new plot line and not a continuation of the original story. Certainly a few key plot elements from the VA series are mentioned throughout the book and are of importance, but the book can be read irrespective of having followed Vampire Academy or not.
It is written in what has now become typical Richelle Mead style, i.e. intrigue intermingled with humour and romance. It is also designated for young adult readers, yet it is not restricted to just them. It does make an interesting and easy to follow plot line that can amuse and entertain whoever decides to pick it up.
The book’s greater strength is character development: two of VA’s best portrayed characters become protagonists and not surprisingly Richelle Mead does her magic trick again and manages through their interaction to create a believable, emotional and vivacious environment. These characters help unravel the story line and also they help define and highlight all the other people in the story who either play or are to likely to play a bigger part in the forthcoming books. The author has a real talent for setting the story in a high school background and adorns her plot with enough school life happening that make it all too more realistic for those who are still attending school, but also those who have graduated from it.
The story is filled with action, reaction and counter-action. The psychological factor is also important and throughout the book it is what usually drives the characters to behave and talk the way they do. Furthermore, drama is spread throughout the story. Be it the core plot or the side plots, drama is there to cause emotional turmoil and to make readers integrate them with the plot and identify with the characters at hand. The author certainly doesn’t give her characters a break. The end of the book will confess as much.
Although the book can be read smoothly and the suspense certainly keeps one guessing, still the story telling is not flawless. Anyone who have sat through Vampire Academy may have drawn attention to the fact that along the main plot a few subplots are interspersed in the book – not making the story confusing – but weighing down on story telling quality. What happens is this: in order to present satisfactorily those subplots the story usually drones on and then just like that it races through the pages with such speed and so much information that the readers are left frustrated thinking that things should have been better explained and not simply crammed in at the last moment. This is something that both the author and her editing team need to work out, mainly because it will help raise the bar higher on her story telling.
Nevertheless, Bloodlines does not disappoint. It intrigues and excites and it does entertain. Vampire Academy fans will embrace the new story and greedily await the next book, as the author hints that there are more fascinating things to come. New readers will become absorbed by Moroi and Strigoi culture, by the Alchemists’ sometimes medieval beliefs and by the simple thing that’s called life and it comes to challenge the much likeable characters.
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