Bloodlines by Richelle Mead
Release Date: August 23, 2011
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.
Man, oh man do I love the world that Richelle Mead has created. In fact, I basically just all around love Richelle Mead. I am so jealous of her unborn baby; if she makes half the mother she does a storyteller that kid is going to be ultra-lucky.
But enough of my mooning over the author… I don’t want to make her husband jealous, after all.
The Vampire Academy series is (one of) my all time favorites, so when Richelle announced the spin-off series I felt equal parts fear and anticipation. It’s so much easier to destroy a good thing than create one, and spin-offs have a lot of potential to sully their parent-project. As any Tammy-fan knows, sometimes it works, sometimes it really doesn’t.
For those of you who have read the Vampire Academy books, understand that Sydney is an immensely different person than Rose, so if you read that series for her, you may not enjoy the cross over to Bloodlines. If you read the Vampire Academy series for it’s world building, intrigue, characterization, and of course, the requisite cliff-hanger, then you’re in luck, because all of these elements transfer into this new series.
For those of you who have not read the Vampire Academy books, you will get by just fine reading Bloodlines alone. Richelle Mead does a good job of quickly and neatly addressing any need-to-know elements for new readers, without bogging down old fans. I do, however, think that your reading experience is going to be immensely enriched if you read the series in the order that they were published (not to mention, if you ever want to go back and read Vampire Academy, Bloodlines will have spoiled some major plot points because it takes place after the end of the first series).
Sydney is a very thoughtful, intelligent narrator, which I appreciated. She feels very human (bad word choice, I know,) with her strengths, weaknesses, desires, and idiosyncrasies. Her cluelessness at social norms was endearing and never failed to make me laugh. Of all the books Richelle Mead has penned, this one had the most character development--both from Sydney and secondary characters--and that's exciting to be a part of. Though speaking of…
“What,” demanded [censored] “are you guys talking about?”
“Nothing of interest, I assure you,” said Abe, who was really enjoying this all too much. “Life lessons, character development, unpaid debts. That sort of thing”
I LOVE ABE. All in all, that was probably the best part of this book: getting to revisit those people that stole my heart the first time around. While I’m happy that Rose ended up with Dimitri, I am just as excited to continue spending time with Adrian on his path to finding himself and love. It’s reminiscent of The Bachelor, when they bring a boy from the previous season of The Bachelorette to star (speaking of, I hope ABC picks Ben F…). Also, I should probably mention that Richelle Mead is damned incredible at writing sexual tension… gives me shivers.
Bloodlines is an exciting continuation of where Vampire Academy left off. Because Sydney is brains and restraint where Rose is all brawn and impulse, the pacing of the novel is significantly slower than what you would find in the first series, but Richelle gives you other things to focus on. Between keeping track of Sydney, Eddie, Adrian, Jill, and all their new friends, we also have a couple of new characters that you can’t help but love to hate. It's no Vampire Academy, but I have faith that the series will get there; I give Bloodlines 4 out of 5 Stars.
For those of you who are ingesting these books via radio-waves, it should be noted that Penguin Audio picked Emily Shaffer to narrate again. Emily is wonderful, so I understand why they chose her, but she uses her Rose-voice for Sydney and her Lissa-voice for Jill, so I had a really hard time appreciating the unique voices Richelle gave her protagonists from series to series. For a fuller experience, I would absolutely suggest reading one of the series and listening to the other (or reading both).