Only a true best friend can protect you from your immortal enemies
Lissa Dragomir is a Moroi princess: a mortal vampire with a rare gift for harnessing the earth’s magic. Her best friend Rose Hathaway is a Dhampir: a guardian whose blood is a powerful blend of vampire and human. Rose’s life is dedicated to protecting Lissa from the dangerous strigoi – the fiercest vampires, who will stop at nothing to make Lissa one of them.
After two years of freedom, Rose and Lissa are caught and dragged back to St. Valdimir’s Academy, a school for vampire royalty and their guardians-to-be, hidden deep in the forests of Montana. But inside the iron gates, life is even more fraught with danger… and strigoi are always close by.
Picture this – it’s 2012 and the world was presumably ending. Gangnam Style was huge, Lana Del Rey had just released Born To Die, the Twilight films were ending, the Hunger Games beginning and, in the literary world vampires were everywhere.
Enter Vampire Academy.
Now okay, I just want to be clear that Vampire Academy wasn’t actually released in 2012 [2007 in case you were wondering], but, at my high school vampires were the shit and as the Twilight craze wound down Vampire Academy kicked into high gear. Anyone would remember just how blown up the vampire literary phenomenon was. Besides Twilight and House of Night literally every man and his dog was reading Vampire Academy. Me? Not so much. I avoided the series like the black plague.
Worst. Mistake. Ever.
I couldn’t tell you why I was so adamant about avoiding Vampire Academy. I’m guessing that I could probably chalk it up to the fact that I’m a stubborn reader. In my defense though, the term Vampire Academy doesn’t inspire much. Whatever the reason, I’m thankful that on a whim I finally picked this series up because let me tell you, even as a twenty-something, Vampire Academy kicks ass.
Now, don’t let the title and unfortunate cover fool you – Vampire Academy is not just an angst riddled teen melodrama. Okay, scratch that, there’s a good helping of teen angst, but what makes Vampire Academy stand out among the vampire novels circulating book shelves is the punch-first-ask-questions-later heroine, Rose Hathaway. That and the fact that Vampire Academy has a good amount of steamy romance and is layered with wit, snark and plenty of humor.
At the heart of Vampire Academy is a story about the bond between friends and just how far they are willing go to protect the other. When I say bond though, I mean it in the literal sense of the word. What makes Rose and Lissa’s friendship so compelling and complex is their forged physic link. In the beginning their bond is shrouded in mystery – bonding is rare and very little is actually known about the cause and effect. What they do know is that their’s is one-way, allowing Rose to slip into Lissa’s head and actually see the world through her eyes. While the bond gives Rose an edge as a guardian, it also stirs tension and conflict in their relationship.
While both girls play an important role, Rose Hathaway is our protagonist. Rose isn’t perfect, she’s flawed and multi-layered just not is a mary-sue, Bella Swan kind of way. A dhampir novice, Rose is a snarky guardian-in-training who’s dedicated her life to protecting and defending the moroi. She’s insubordinate and impulsive with a fiery temper to match yet she’s deeply committed to her role as guardian. This is what makes Rose a heroine we can admire; not only is she tough and bold but she’s fiercely loyal. Then there’s her witty banter. Let it be known that Rose’s internal monologue is down right hilarious. Her lines are borderline iconic and I would be lying it I said I’ve never borrowed her material.
Lissa is an equally complex character with her her own flaws and strengths. The last remaining princess of the Dragomir line, Lissa can be slightly shallow and selfish but ultimately, Lissa is kind, compassionate and deeply in tune with those around her. On the surface, Lissa can appear to be the softer of the two but her struggles with declaring magic and the exploration of her mental health allows her undeniable strength to flood through.
And how could I not talk about comrade Dimitri Belikov? Dimitri, in all of his western-reading-duster-wearing glory, is a well respected guardian and Rose’s Mentor. Not to mention he’s unbelievably sexy. Give me a big o’l slice of that. Dimitri is the thoughtful, brooding, silent type with a heart of pure gold. The ice to Rose’s flame, I was 110% here for their completely off limits, I’m-too-old-for-you forbidden romance. I mean, you could practically cut their intense chemistry and sexual tension with a knife.
Bottom line, if you haven’t already picked up Vampire Academy you need to jump on the band wagon pronto. Rose will have you in stitches as you navigate the politics and mythology of their boarding school setting. Full of female badassery, nail biting suspense and one heck of a plot twist, Vampire Academy holds up as memorable and compelling series in the otherwise predictable, crowed genre.