Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead is a six-book young adult, paranormal romance series set in the United States. It intervenes the classic vampire story, categorising them as three different species/hybrids: Moroi (good vampires), Dhampir (good vampire protectors) and Strigoi (bad vampires). The six books in the series are Vampire Academy, Frostbite, Shadow Kiss, Blood Promise, Spirit Bound, and Last Sacrifice.
It follows the story of Dhampir and Guardian in training, Rosemarie (Rose) Hathaway, and her best friend and Royal Moroi, Vasilisa (Lissa) Dragomir, a duo with very different personalities but are joined together with a strange connection. The story is mainly located at the fictional St Vladimir's Academy, which is where young Moroi and Dhampir's study and live during the school year. Other characters include Dimitri Belikov (guardian and Rose's love interest), Christian Ozera (shunned royal Moroi and Lissa's love interest), Sonya Karp ('crazy' ex-teacher Moroi turned Strigoi), Adrian Ivashkov (bad-boy addict and another Rose love interest), and Victor Dashkov ('uncle' to Lissa).
The main story starts with Rose and Lissa in hiding from the academy a year after they escaped with Rose under the impression she can protect Lissa after Sonya told her that it wasn't safe for Lissa and her strange abilities to stay at the academy. It is quickly determined that Rose does not have what it takes to keep Lissa out of trouble and they are soon brought back to the academy, Rose being 'punished' by getting extra classes with tall, dark and mysterious Guardian, Dimitri Belikov, which starts their ever-growing sexual tension. The main issues for Rose and Lissa are a combination of rumours spread about them through the academy, hormonal urges towards inappropriate people, and Lissa's growing depression, which Rose eventually deduces to be in connection to her strange ability and their weird connection. This connection allows Rose to see through Lissa's eyes and feel exactly what she is feeling, which Rose believes will make her the perfect candidate to be Lissa's future guardian.
These immature adolescent issues continue throughout the series. However, once Rose and Lissa start to learn more about their connection and Lissa's abilities, darker events occur between them that force them to grow up and face reality. These events include death, separation, and complex political games, with an impending threat of Strigoi and their newfound bloodthirstiness and intellect, and an uprising within their own Moroi-Dhampir society. However, in true YA fashion, there is a lot of focus on the relationships of the characters, both platonic and romantic, which is where a lot of the conflict, emotions and plot-twists are drawn from.
What I thought
This series gave me a lot of mixed feelings, which can be read in each books separate reviews. It starts off okay, the first three books growing in intensity with the third one really having me invested in the series. However, the last three books lacked the same fire. Nonetheless, I enjoyed the series as a whole, feeling very connected to the different characters and finding myself shocked by most of the plot twists. I did have a few emotional moments throughout the series with some events built up perfectly for a YA series.
When I read the first book, I enjoyed Rose's fire and bad-ass attitude, really appreciating that she always stood up for herself and her friends and never backed from a fight. However, it suited the first couple of books since she was still immature and had not experienced the seriousness of death and the bloodthirstiness of the Strigoi. I would have continued to liked Rose's character if her bad-ass attitude became more refined and mature but she still had a very immature and selfish outlook by the end of the series. Her love triangle with Dimitri and Adrian was expected and caused some good conflict, but the ending exemplified the never-ending depth of Rose's immaturity, which was one of the main reason's why I did not finish on good terms with her character. I think Lissa's growth and characterisation was done perfectly, and her inclusion in the political games is what made me enjoy the latter books in the series.
The story line itself was predictable and followed similar patterns as other YA paranormal romances. However, the plot twists were done very well and kept me interested. It is written simplistically, which is to be expected. However, the simplicity makes the series quite easy and enjoyable to read, any complexity probably not suiting the genre or expected audience. There are also quite a few grammatical issues that I found dotted in all the books and this caused some confusion, but overall it didn't take away from the story.
I would recommend this series to anyone interested in the genres of young adult, paranormal or romance. If you're interested in all three then it'll probably be quite an enjoyable series for you. If you are easily frustrated by immature characters, I would recommend against this series. I would also recommend against this series if you read paranormal (or any genre) books for the action since most of the action occurs near the end of most of the books, the conflict focusing mostly on the relationships between the characters.
All in all, I enjoyed reading the series. I became invested in the characters and their growth, and I think there was enough intensity to keep me intrigued even when I was unsure by some of the events. If you have read the series, either partially or fully, let me know what you thought in the comments below. Or, if you're interested in anymore of my thoughts and/or opinions, feel free to ask me any questions and I'll be happy to answer.
Charlotte is a reading and writing lover who has completed a creative writing intensive course at the University of Oxford and is a current university student studying a double degree in journalism and creative writing. If you are curious to learn more, check out the 'About' page.