Dust Jacket Description:
"St. Vladimir's Academy isn't just any boarding school–it's a hidden place where vampires are educated in the ways of magic and half-human teens train to protect them. Rose Hathaway is a Dhampir, a bodyguard for her best friend Lissa, a Moroi Vampire Princess. They've been on the run, but now they're being dragged back to St. Vladimir's–the very place where they're most in danger. Rose and Lissa become enmeshed in forbidden romance, the Academy's ruthless social scene, and unspeakable nighttime rituals. But they must be careful lest the Strigoi–the world's fiercest and most dangerous vampires–make Lissa one of them forever."
Characters: I loved Rose's personality. Lissa is usually the character in YA who would get the most attention - her quiet, analytical nature fits the perspectives of most YA paranormal romance characters I've met. Rose is rash, sexy and hyper protective. You don't see a lot of strong, powerful flirts being YA protagonists, and I liked her confident, clever nature. I did get a little grossed out when she would turn all Edward Cullen on Lissa. Rose oversteps a few boundaries with Lissa, and while it's uncomfortable to view, they're seen as mistakes. I can forgive wrong doing that is framed as such. I liked seeing a narrator with unusual kinds of insecurities, and a different, more protective sort of responsibility than most paranormal MCs.
It was Rose's feisty, loyal personality that kept me from hating Lissa. It's not that Lissa is particularly awful, it's just that Mead seems to have a hard time properly identifying her personality. First she's shy, observant, anxious, troubled. Next she is charismatic but traumatized. The mix of charming and introverted didn't work well for me. I hope she rings true in later books.
Mead certainly has a good grip on her love interests. Even Christian pulled off the dreamy-and-dangerous vibe without making me want to gag. Dimitri's appeal to Rose is understandable, and I found myself liking him as a result.
They're not a particularly amazing cast of characters, but they're fun to read about. Rose is worth reading all on her own. 4 flowers.
Writing: The dialogue is kind of dry and cliched, but again, it works as a vessel for the story. The writing is not distracting and the grammar isn't too horrible. I was so caught up in the action I wasn't very picky. 3 and a half flowers.
Plot: I really like how Mead manipulated the traditional vampire ideas and made interesting political and social worlds. The pacing is perfection. Mead doesn't let her readers rest for one second, and it makes for a quality plot. Sure, the ending is predictable, but there are a couple of surprising twists and turns. I did feel like Rose's ability to see into Lissa's mind was a POV cop-out, but hey, I shouldn't be complaining when I didn't love Lissa anyway. Conflicts are never dragged out. That's a major skill for a writer. 4 flowers.
End: It feels natural. I like when stories actually feel like they're appropriate candidates to be a series. 4 and a half flowers.
Dust Jacket Description: I don't appreciate how the last sentence makes the conflict seem different than it actually is. Beyond that, I would have liked a little more of a focus on Rose and maybe a sentence about Dimitri. 3 flowers.
Cover: I've heard many bloggers bemoan this series' covers. I understand why. They're typical and boring. I'm glad I read this one on my ebook. 2 flowers.
Overall: If you want something with a strong protagonist, a strong pace, and a solid paranormal world, pick Vampire Academy up. I'll definitely read the rest of the series. 4 flowers.