I'm a librarian who loves anime, manga, and reading a wide variety of genres.
With the movie's release date coming up soon, I decided it was time to finally read this book. I spotted a copy in the bargain bin at my local entertainment store and snatched it up.
To try to keep my review from being too confusing, I'll start by defining a few terms. Dhampirs are people like Rose and Dimitri, half human, half vampire. Moroi, like Lissa, are “good” vampires and can use magic. Strigoi are “bad” vampires that crave Moroi blood. Moroi are constantly in danger from Strigoi. Dhampirs can only reproduce with Moroi, so it's in their best interest for Moroi to survive. Therefore, some of them become guardians assigned to protect particular Moroi.
I read the first two thirds of this book at a decent pace. Then I stalled. I started reading something else. I got sick for a few days and didn't feel like reading anything at all. After I got better, every other book around me looked more interesting than Vampire Academy. I finished it because I try to only read one book at a time in a particular format. This was keeping the “paper book” slot filled, and I had two interlibrary loan paper books that needed to be read.
I suppose that makes this sound like a bad book, but it wasn't. Some parts of it were great. I enjoyed some of the humorous scenes, like when one of Rose and Lissa's teachers read the notes they were passing aloud. I loved the bond between Lissa and Rose. For once, the “devoted, determined, loyal guardian” was female. Rose would have done anything in her power to keep Lissa safe and happy, and Lissa trusted Rose completely.
I was hoping for lots of chances for Rose to be an awesome guardian and lots of dangerous vampiric political maneuvering. Instead, I got heaping boatloads of high school drama with vampiric trappings.
When Lissa and Rose were dragged back to St. Vladimir's Academy after successfully being on the run for a while, they had to deal with no longer being quite so high up in the school's hierarchy. Aaron, Lissa's ex-boyfriend, was dating Mia, who absolutely hated Lissa. Aaron was the guy who best fit the image Lissa felt she had to project, but the guy she really came to like was Christian, who was an outcast because his parents had willingly turned Strigoi.
Rose's biggest problems started when word got out that she drank Lissa's blood while they were on the run. People accused her of wanting to be a blood whore, a dhampir who lets Moroi drink their blood during sex. Lissa was already not doing great – she suffered from depression and sometimes secretly cut herself. Trying to help Rose deepened her depression and put her at greater risk of having her most secret powers discovered by everyone.
Oh yes, and Rose developed a crush on Dimitri, her mentor, and suspected that he might be interested in her in return.
Without the magic and vampire teeth, it all basically boiled down to this: Lissa was in some kind of weird love triangle because she didn't feel she could be honest about her feelings, people bullied Rose and called her a slut, and forbidden feelings were brewing between Rose and her hot older mentor. After a while, there was only so much I could stand. At least the whole thing with Dimitri was relatively mild and didn't completely override Rose's common sense, aside from one part near the end.
I loved Rose's fierce protectiveness. I think she'd be a fabulous heroine a few years down the line, after she matured a bit. I liked her a lot in this book, but I was a bit frustrated with her behavior sometimes. On the one hand, she wanted to protect Lissa from all harm. On the other hand, she wasn't quite ready for some of the sacrifices she'd have to make in order to do that. Sometimes she held back from partying, drinking, and going out with boys, because those things distracted her from keeping track of how Lissa was doing, and sometimes she forgot her greater goal and just did what she wanted. I didn't really blame her – in fact, it was kind of amazing that she didn't seem to resent Lissa or the Moroi hardly at all – but I still cringed when she decided it was okay to drink because Lissa was angry with her and was ignoring her.
I haven't decided yet if I'm going to continue with this series. Part of me wants to. I really did love Rose and Lissa's bond, and I've heard that the vampire politics aspect becomes stronger later in the series. However, this book didn't leave me with a burning desire to read the next one. Also, I'm a little worried that the relationship between Rose and Dimitri might develop too quickly and leave me feeling stabby.
(Original review, with read-alikes and watch-alikes, posted on A Library Girl's Familiar Diversions.)