Author: Richelle Mead
Published: August 16, 2007
Paperback, 332 pages
5 Gold Stars
(summary from Goodreads)
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.
Normally I shy away from vampire books. Ever since Twilight, I've been worried about how YA authors look at these supernatural creatures. I prefer books like Interview With the Vampire if I want some blood sucking fun, but Mead took these creatures and created something new that hit the mark on the head and I'm glad I decided to read this book. Mead's vampires are different, kick ass, and strange all at once and it made for a solid read.
Rose is a Dhampir, ahalf vampire, half human, who's sole purpose in life is to protect the Moroi, full vampires that are being hunted by Strigoi, immortal dangerous vampires. There are a lot of different vampires in here and that's what makes it so unique. Rose and her Moroi best friend, Lissa, have a bond that not many other Dhampir/Moroi pairs have. She can feel everything Lissa feels and this brings them very close together. After being dragged back to St. Vladimir's Academy after being away for two years, Rose suddenly finds herself fighting to be near Lissa and defending the rumours that start spreading throughout the campus about the two of them. Throw in some hot boys, forbidden romance, and dead animals, and you've got yourself a vampire story for the ages.
Rose is not your typical YA Mary Sue. She's hardcore, kicks serious butt, and doesn't let anyone step on her or Lissa. It's refreshing to read a voice like hers, where, yes, even though she thinks the guy is cute, she doesn't let this get in the way of everything else going on in her life. In no way does the romance take centre stage and the rest of the plot get pushed into the background. In fact, I wanted more romance. I craved Rose and Dimitri to just make out and get the tension over with. Dimitri being her fighting instructor and five years older than her doesn't make for an easy romance. At no point did the age difference seem weird and gross, and the way it was handled throughout the book was spectacular. I'm certainly not done with the two of them. Rose and Lissa's friendship was comforting and nice to see in a YA series. Normally it's all about the romance, but I'm glad their friendship took the forefront and was challenged and put to the test throughout the book. The personal bond between the two was realistic and well written. It came off as best friends would, even though the differences between the girls could have meant quite the opposite.
The book is set at a boarding school, therefore there will be drama between the students. The mean girls were there, threatening Rose and spreading rumours, but it never got too focused on that drama. What I loved about this book was that them being vampires wasn't the only responsibility they had. They were very much human, but still had the vampire characteristics. School took place at night and there were feeders for the Moroi to feed on. The differences between the Dhampirs and the Moroi was interesting to read about, given that the Dhampir were more human and did not have to drink blood and could go out in the sunlight. They are treated differently and it came off like racial slurs at some points and this made it feel very real. It's never about humans versus vampires in this book, it's vampire versus vampire and it came off very well. I'm curious to see where this series will go and how Rose and Lissa's relationship will evolve. I also can't wait to watch the movie, out next year!
“Only a true best friend can protect you from your immortal enemies.”