Vampire Academy – Richelle Mead
On the surface of it this book shares more than a passing similarity with Andrea Cremer’s Nightshade, which I reviewed on this blog a few months ago. Cremer had teenage werewolf Guardians defending a ‘holy’ site for a group of homicidal sorcerors, with alpha female of the pack Calla as protagonist; Mead has a high-school hierarchy of half-vampire, half-human dhampirs sworn to protect the mortal vampire royalty of the Moroi, while her lead is Rose, a dhampir girl who has spent her entire life in training to be the person who throws herself in front of the bullet – or the killer undead enemy of the Moroi, the immortal vampires of the Strigoi, as the case may be. But the similarities don’t go much further. Where Calla’s subservient indecision drove me crazy, Rose is…well, kind of crazy herself. In very cool ways.
Because sure, there’s an ancient pact between the dhampirs and the Moroi, but Rose doesn’t give a damn about that. She is in training because her best friend Lissa is a Moroi princess and she will do whatever it takes to keep Lissa safe. If that means running away from the academy where they both grew up and spending years on the run, feeding Lissa on her own blood and eluding the Strigoi and academy guards alike, so be it. Their luck eventually runs out, however, and they are dragged back to the academy to complete their separate training in theoretical safety. With a toss of her hair and a dangerous smile, Rose sets out to reclaim their legendary status on the school social scene. But she hasn’t given up on a second escape, because she knows something none of the other guardians know. The worst danger Lissa faces might not come from the Strigoi at all. It might come from Lissa herself…
I like Rose. She’s smart and loyal and won’t suffer fools. She enjoys making out with cute vampires – well, she’s half one herself – but draws the line right under their noses, refusing to be pushed around by anyone. She will do whatever it takes to look after Lissa, but then Lissa would do the same for her. The story is fast-moving and intriguing, with love interests that don’t ever quite fall into the straightforward love triangle category. I don’t know where Richelle Mead will take Rose and Lissa in book two of the Vampire Academy series, but I’m strongly tempted to find out.