It’s no secret that I love vampires and always have, and will basically devour anything about vampires at all* but there is so much vampire media out there, I have to draw the line somewhere or I would never sleep again. So I never picked up Vampire Academy. Because.. I mean.. I’m sure it’s great, Mead is awesome and hilarious, but the name put me off. I don’t really care for the vampires-in-school thing. Suffice to say, it’s on my reading list now, so mea culpa.
Bloodlines drew me in because it was about an alchemist and I love alchemy. Bonus vampires? Sold. That was all I needed. And then I met Adrian.
Adrian Ivashkov is like if Daniel Molloy and Will Herondale somehow combined their DNA. He’s sweet and caring deep down, sure, but he’s sarcastic, doesn’t seem to take anything seriously, and lives on gin and cigarettes. (And blood. Obviously.) *waves fangirl flag*
The story is about Alchemist Syndney Sage, who has to go to a boarding school with a vampire princess, Jill, to keep her safe, since alchemists in this world live to cover up the existence of vampires and nasty things from mundane people. Jill is also being threatened by vampires for political reasons. And Adrian is just there as far as Sydney knows, at least at first, because he has nothing better to do.
Syndey is book smart and OCD and happy to go to this boarding school posing as a senior, because she’s never been to real school and it’s as close to college as she feels like she can get. She is less good at fitting in with other students, particularly when one of them thinks her golden alchemist tattoo is making her smarter, because there’s an illegal tattoo operation in town that’s giving students unfair advantages for the right price.
I did take issue with a scene in beginning where Sydney is fitted for a uniform and spends a lot of time whining about her size. She’s like.. a four I think? She talks about how fat she is, and I really loathed that. I get that teenagers (hell, people) can obsess about size, and it’s in character for her being so OCD and perfectionistic, but all the same it really bothered me at the time, because man, if she’s a cow then I’m like a Humpback Whale, so thanks there, chica. However, it’s sort of forgivable because it is so much a part of her character, and in the second book [spoiler] Adrian even calls her out for having a serious eating disorder, which we see in glimpses as the series continues, so it’s not treated as a healthy behavior but all of the same[/spoiler].
I have no idea how this stacks up to VA since I haven’t read any of them, but I enjoyed both this and its sequel, again, because Adrian makes me giggle like a mad person. It does sort of run on vampire politics which can get old quickly, but I don’t know if there’s much I can’t forgive for Adrian, particularly maybe the funniest thing I’ve read in a long time, which was [spoiler]The Adrian Hunts for A Job Scene… just.. I was in stitches, especially when he drinks the martini at the bar interview… such a bad idea but so hilariously played, Adrian![/spoiler]
I also liked that Mead has clearly built an in-depth vampire world, and then writes stories from the perspective of Sydney, who isn’t really keen on magic and whose up-brining makes them weird about vampires, even the good non-murderous ones. It’s an interesting twist to have a YA heroine who not only lacks magical powers but would not take them if they were offered.
*Not Twilight. But then, to be honest, I did read Meyer’s short novella about Bree Tanner, in which the titular character thought she was a real vampire and not a sparklepire, and it wasn’t terrible, so… you know. Also Vampire Baseball. That will never stop being hilarious to me.
Recommended if: You like supernatural stories set in boarding schools, and/or can forgive that for a handsome, snarky, gin-drinking vampire. Which, I mean, what can’t you forgive for that?