Bloodlines by Richelle Mead
Book 1 in Bloodlines Series (Spin off series of Vampire Academy)
Release: August 23rd 2011
Genre: YA Paranormal & Urban Fantasy
The first book in Richelle Mead's brand-new teen fiction series - set in the same world as Vampire Academy.
When alchemist Sydney is ordered into hiding to protect the life of Moroi princess Jill Dragomir, the last place she expects to be sent is a human private school in Palm Springs, California. But at their new school, the drama is only just beginning.
Populated with new faces as well as familiar ones, Bloodlines explores all the friendship, romance, battles and betrayals that made the #1 New York Times bestselling Vampire Academy series so addictive - this time in a part-vampire, part-human setting where the stakes are even higher and everyone's out for blood.
I adore the Vampire Academy series and I have to say that this book did not disappoint. I loved it so much. It was really, really good. Bloodlines is told from the point of view of Sydney Sage, who was an alchemist first introduced in the Vampire Academy series. And if you are not familiar with the Vampire Academy world, an alchemist is a human who's sole task is to protect the human world from knowing about the existence of a secret vampiric world conformed of (moroi, dhampir and strigoi).
Things I loved about this book:
1. Sydney Sage. She is a very strong female lead and she is different. Vastly different from a lot of the female lead MC (main characters) i've read about in the YA genre. She feels real. Sydney's strength lies in her intelligence, in her ability as a strategist. She is highly intelligent. Sydney is not the type of person to throw punches and ask questions later á la Rose Hathaway in Vampire Academy. No. She is very methodical and analytical in her moves. Stoic even. In the face of adversity, she remains calm but behind that cool and collected facade, is a rather determined young woman who is dedicated to doing the right thing and finding out the truth, always. And as anybody who's faced a difficult situation can attest to, it is not easy to keep a poker-face when you are confronted with harshness/difficulty.
Sydney is what you can call a highly introspective person. She is very contemplative and since the story is told from her point of view, you get to see that she analyzes everything going on within herself and around her. But part of this is due to her strict upbringing as an alchemist by her father who taught her to never get too emotional and to always handle any situation swiftly and effectively. And when you are raised like that, you have no choice but to become introspective. Sydney has a hard time with social/romantic cues and because of her upbringing holds a lot of bad views, especially towards vampires. But as the story develops, we begin to see that Sydney is slowly learning that what she thought was wrong, might not be. She starts to have friends and Sydney is a very caring person, so even though she seems stoic we get to see how she feels about her family and how she forms friendships with some of the vamps she is forced to care of and others she encounters along the way.
2. Adrian Ivashkov. Oh how I love thee, Adrian. Adrian is what you might call a bad boy at first glance but with him it truly is a facade to not let his vulnerability show. In Vampire Academy we left him a broken man after Rose chose Dimitri over him. In Bloodlines, we get to see how Adrian is coping with his broken heart and how slowly but surely with help along the way - he starts to become the great man who he truly is. Also, we get a lot of insight into how caring and sweet Adrian is. Another thing that we get to read about is Adrian's wit and charm. He is really funny and it was great to read about his character again.
3. Supporting cast. For Vampire Academy fans, in addition to having Sydney and Adrian, right front and center. You also get some insight into Jill and Eddie who are also Vampire Academy veterans, who become full out characters in Bloodlines. There is also a lot of new human and vamp characters that you get to read about that are very interesting and lovable characters.
4.The writing. Richelle is just such an amazing writer. What I love about her characters is that they are so distinct and where it can be easy to expect another Rose Hathway-ish character for Bloodlines, she decides to write from Sydney's perspective and throw a curve ball at you with a totally different heroine. And boy is Sydney sooo vastly different from Rose. Richelle really captured what a highly intelligent and introspective young woman would think like. And how misinterpreted their actions can be by other people. With Sydney's personality traits, Richelle made me think about the MBTI (Myers Briggs type indicator) personality types. I think that if Sydney was to get tested for her personality type she would be an INTJ or INFJ and anyone who knows about Myer Briggs can attest to, INTJ and INFJ women are rare personality types in the general population.
5.Villains. What I love about Richelle Mead's villains is that there is always several of them. You never just get that one Lord Voldermort-ish character that is just completely evil and sinister that you feel that there is no space for any other villains in the story. And a lot of books tend to do that: you get the hero and the antagonist and all you really do is kinda wait until that one big show down happens between them. Not with Richelle books! Given, you might get that one Lord Voldermort in the story, that yes, you identify as the main villain immediately, but with Richelle there is always several villains in there. The people you less suspect to be completely evil and maniacal tend to be the biggest psychos of all. They are just not really obvious at the beginning. But what I love about her villains is that they creep up on you. Always are more that one. Just like they creep up on the characters, they surprise you too.
6. The story in itself was just really interesting and had a lot of fun moments and interesting plot-lines. There was a lot of real issues covered in this book, especially concerning Sydney and her family. I also liked that you get to understand more of how the Alchemist's organization works. And it was really cool to see Sydney go undercover to a regular human high school to protect Jill who is a Moroi princess in a lot of danger. There's a little bit of everything in this book. You have broken hearted characters, the ones who love in silence, the ones who are socially awkward, sneaky characters, flat out evil characters. A little bit of everything in there, really.
7. Romance. Okay. If you are expecting a full blown out romance, this book does not contain it. What it really has is the sparks of what could really be a great romance, which I loved. A lot of stories nowadays have that immediate connection type of love stories, where the character is inexplicably drawn to another character and immediately loves them till the end of time, for no apparent reason. Not here. Bloodlines is all about character growth and everything is developing slowly and it was refreshing to read because love is not always immediate. People do not always fall in love right away. Sometimes it takes quite a while for two people to realize they love each other. This book has that and I can't wait to see what happens is book 2 The Golden Lily because I can see that there are a couple of romances brewing amongst the mix that probably end up as really great love stories.
8. Vampire Academy cameos. Rose, Dimitri and Abe and some other characters of Vampire Academy fame, make mini appearances in here and they were great to read. So if your a Vampire Academy fan, that would be fun for you.
9. That Cliffhanger. Why Richelle, how will I cope? Ahhh the wait will feel endless. Well played Richelle, well played. That was quite the curve ball you threw at us. I cannot wait to read book 2 in this series.
I loved this book. It was a breath of fresh air when it comes to YA PNR and Urban Fantasy novels. It just has it's own character and uniqueness. I highly recommend it and consider it a favorite read of mine for 2011.