Okay, I admit, I am big on vampire books; I have been reading them since I was in high school. The first I read was The Last Vampire series by Christopher Pike. This was followed by the Night World series by L.J. Smith (and no, I have never read any Vampire Diaries book). Others followed, wherein some of the most notable ones are Salem’s Lot by Stephen King and Dracula by Bram Stoker. I read some Anne Rice vampire books but with all the dragging descriptions of the setting, I could no longer remember any of them. Of course, I also read the very recently famous Twilight series by Stephenie Meyer, but only after the 3rd movie was out because my low EQ kicked in and I could no longer wait to find out the ending.
And only yesterday I was able to finish another vampire series: Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead. I started with the first book last year and I am glad that all the books have already been out when I picked up Frostbite. To be honest, I wasn’t that enthusiastic about reading this series at all. It was more of the lack of anything to read that motivated me.
Vampire Academy is like the typical vampire stories wherein there are good vampires (Moroi) and bad vampires (Strigoi). The distinguishing element, however, is that the spotlight is on the half-vampires or the Dhampirs. The books are told with the limited first person P.O.V. of Rose Hathaway, the daughter of a Moroi father and a Dhampir mother. In the V.A. world, the Dhampirs get the best of their parents’ genes: resistance to sickness, physical strength and immunity to the sun. With these characteristics, their primary role is to guard the Moroi who, though rarely get sick and just become uncomfortable under the sun, are physically lacking in strength to defend themselves against the Strigoi. While the Moroi are considered alive, this other breed of vampires are former Morois/Dhampirs/humans who decided that giving up their souls for immortality is worth it. One way of turning into a Strigoi is to kill the human/Dhampir/Moroi from whom they are feeding. They now become the typical vampires who kill when they drink blood and are basically super fast and super strong psychopaths.
With that being the overall theme of the series, the appeal mainly stems from the star-crossed lovers Rose and Dimitri Belikov. The two started out as trying to repress their mutual attraction since Rose was still in high school, a minor, while Dimitri was her mentor. Aside from the age and student-teacher relationship problems, they still could not get it on as they were both expected to guard Lissa, a Moroi princess who was the last in her line. Because of these, the sexual tension grew and grew until they could not hold it back and gave in to their feelings halfway into the series. But as the fates would have it, not more than 24 hours passed when Dimitri was turned into Strigoi in one of the attacks at the school. With Dimitri Strigoi, Rose dropped out of high school to pursue him in Russia, his hometown. She felt bound to her earlier promise that she would have to kill him if he ever became a soul-less undead. And due to her feelings for him, she failed to kill him when she found him. This led to a lot of complications, such as Dimitri abducting her and pressuring her into turning Strigoi herself. When she got the chance, Rose tried to kill him a second time, and again failed. Dimitri was now hell-bent on killing her.
Then came Lissa’s greatest value in her life: her Spirit magic. Ordinary Moroi could control one of the four elements but Spirit is so much better as its abilities are endless like healing, dreamwalking, seeing auras and super compulsion. Through some death- and law-defying adventures, Rose and Lissa discovered that the Strigoi could be restored by a Spirit-user. And due to Lissa’s courage and determination, they were able to restore him on the second to the last book.
But as it was, Dimitri’s restoration did not bring immediate relief into their love lives. Dimitri, overcome with guilt and depression over the things he did as a Strigoi, was not able to immediately forgive himself and pushed Rose away. She, on the other hand, was more than willing for them to get back together. And after another series of death- and law-defying adventures, they still managed to get that happy ending.
Aside from the love angle, I was also impressed with a lot of the subplots throughout the series. A lot of characters came up but I believe that most of them were developed adequately. The series is also about girl power, with Rose being a real badass guardian while staying beautiful and all that. And I really prefer stories with the 1st person POV. It makes everything mysterious and it even sometimes felt like I was the main character. A lot of times I felt tears on my eyes as I could totally relate to what they were feeling – the pain, the exhaustion, the anticipation. Add to that the way the characters are forced to maintain self-control throughout. The tensions built up beautifully and it never hurts to have a happy ending.
Due to the popularity of the book and also because of the vampire fad, the series is already set to be on the big screen. I am not entirely sure about when and who the actors will be but I truly hope the casting would live up to the descriptions of the characters on the book. I hope they manage to get a truly gasp-inducing, sizzling hot warrior god-looking Dimitri for the movie.
There would also be a spin-off to this series, focusing on some of the minor characters from VA. It is called Bloodlines and will be out by August 23. It will cover the lives of some of the less major characters on the first series. I hope Richelle Mead gives updates on lives of Rose and Dimitri in this series because for sure, I’ll be anticipating.