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I adored the Vampire Academy series and was delighted to hear about this spin off. And while I feel the plot was very predictable – especially as I’ve read the vampire academy books, I still found Bloodlines and enjoyable read.
Following the life of Sydney, an eighteen year old alchemist with a fear of magic and an even larger fear of vampires, this first book sees Sydney overwhelmed by both. Yet she is willing to do anything to protect her younger sister, Zoe, from the regimental clutches of the alchemists. Even if that means accepting a job that sees her relocating to a boarding school where she will room and pose as the sister of a Moroi Vampire Princess.
However Sydney is soon surprised to learn that vampires – at least the Moroi – really aren’t so bad after all, but despite her newly made friendships, Sydney can’t allow the alchemists to discover her newly changed attitude.
If it became known she sympathised with vampires, the alchemists would see fit to initiate Zoe into their order and have Sydney replaced and sent to the re-education centre – essentially, a prison for alchemists.
However between keeping the Princess safe, learning to navigate the high school social scene and keeping Adrian, a party loving Moroi in check, Sydney has her work cut out for her. Especially as it seems someone seems to have stolen the alchemists’ sacred art of magical tattooing.
Now with students popping up with heightened abilities all over campus, Sydney must battle to protect the princess, stay under cover as a loyal vampire hating alchemist and uncover the truth behind the mysterious tattoos. But someone from her past has it in for her and Sydney risks losing everything. Her future, her sister and maybe even her life…
I really, really enjoyed this book. As well as being its own unique story, it also gives an in depth look into what happened after the events in vampire academy. I particularly liked that many of the characters from the previous series also got to make cameo appearances.
In terms of the plot, I found 2/3s of it very predictable, however I never would have guessed such outcomes had I not followed vampire academy. Still there were a few surprises, yet even being able to predict the ‘plot twists’ I still immensely enjoyed the story. In fact I actually just felt smug that I figured most of it out lol.
However my one criticism of the plot is that I didn’t feel like it was very action based. While plenty of drama unfolded to keep me happy, I felt that this story lacked the kick ass action that I have come to expect from Richelle Meads leading ladies. Yet saying that, unlike her other heroines, Sydney is a much more subdued character.
Her strengths lie in her smarts, and her ability to think on her feet. She is no warrior but is still the back bone of their little group. Rationalising her actions, she is trustworthy and responsible, yet we see glimpses of a potential spit fire smouldering beneath her straight laced upbringing. Her small eating disorder aside, she is a character I both respected and loved. I can’t wait to see how she develops in the next book.
The other characters were also plenty interesting. Jill, Eddie and Adrian all shine in their new leading roles and I hope we get to uncover more about their pasts as the series unfolds.
I also like how this book left many questions unanswered yet also gave small hints of things to come. For example Sydney’s history teacher being a potential witch, Sydney’s bad tasting blood, not to mention the potential romantic spark kindling between her and Adrian. I really can’t wait to dive into the next book.
Bloodlines by Richelle Mead is the first book in the spin off series from Vampire Academy. It was published by Razor Bill (Penguin) on 25th August and the book is 432 pages long. Thanks to the publisher for providing me with a review copy.
Moroi princess, Jill Dragomir's life is in danger and it is up to Alchemist Sydney to help protect her from harm. Forced to go undercover, Sydney, Jill and a couple of others begin their new lives in Palm Springs although not exactly how anyone imagined. Taking their places at a private human school, Sydney and Jill start to realise that keeping Jill safe may be the last of their worries.
Human high school is far more scary than anyone could have ever imagined but Jill and Sydney must find a way to fit in without drawing attention to themselves. That would be a simple task if it weren't for a large chunk of the other students having metallic tattoos, very similar to Sydney's Alchemist tattoo. How are they getting something so very similar and what is it doing to them?
What I thought
I was a bit late to the game when it came to reading Vampire Academy and ended up reading the whole series within the space of a few weeks just before the release of the final book. I loved this series so much and I was dying to get my hands on a copy of Bloodlines so the very day that it came in the post, I started reading and finished it!
The biggest problem really is that we're supposed to be able to read this book even without having read the VA series. Many people who have read this said you can but I really don't think it's a very good idea. Too many characters from VA are brought back at some stage or another and there are a lot of references to plotlines that the other series explored. This wouldn't have been a bad thing for me if they had been mentioned in passing but some things have quite a large effect on the plot of this book so if you haven't read VA, you are going to end up quite confused.
That being said, as someone who has read VA, I was happy to see certain characters being brought back, Adrian in particular. I was always a massive Adrian fan in the previous series and hoped and prayed for better things for him and this series looks like it might just give him that! His character is a bit mixed when it comes to how he acts in this book due to how events in VA affected him but I still loved him anyway. I quite liked that he wasn't completely there and he had a lot of problems but that just means he has no where else to go but up (I hope) from here so things should get better. As one of the main male characters, Adrian has a lot of interaction with the other characters and this really makes him somewhat of a focal point. He seems to be the person holding things together in a strange kind of way.
I wasn't too sure about Sydney to begin with but that is how I felt about her during VA. Luckily, she really did grow on me quite quickly as you get to find out a lot about her within a very short space of time. The beginning of the book made me realise that there was a lot more to this character than I had first imagined and I loved that she had some real depth to her. As Bloodlines carries on straight from the end of VA, Sydney is in the bad books of the Alchemists because of how she acted towards the vampires and I don't think I really thought about how she would be received after all the drama was over. That soon becomes clear though and I think Sydney was really brave and strong to react the way that she did and to fight for her place as an Alchemist. From here though, Sydney seemed a little weak to me at times, being a little bit of a pushover when it came to certain things so I would have liked for her strength to carry on the whole way through the book.
I loved the different storylines in Bloodlines. Not only do we have the main idea of Jill being in danger but there are a few other really important things going on as well. Teenage girls are being murdered for some unknown reason and the strange tattoos students have are a massive deal. It was great that everything wasn't really all about Jill like I thought it was going to be. Instead, she kind of takes a bit of a backseat in this book which leaves time for more exciting things to happen. I'm sure that something bad is going to happen to her down the line though otherwise what would be the point of this new series.
Richelle Mead has a fantastic way of creating tension and action all at the same time. Her action scenes are some of the best in this genre and there is always a fantastic build up to the main event. Bloodlines is no exception. The pacing was pretty close to perfect for me as the beginning of the book gives us time to reacquaint ourselves with old characters while getting to know the newer ones at the same time. Bloodlines then slowly draws out the main plot, allowing us to fully surround ourselves in the world she has created and then BAM... she hits us with some amazing action and excitement. Towards the end of Bloodlines, I was already excited for the next book in the series due to how the ending was panning out and I had a million ideas in my head about what could happen next.
After so much of a build up before the release of this book, I am very happy to say that it didn't disappoint me at all. I do think this is going to be more for VA fans than new readers but now it makes me really glad I did finally get around to reading the series!