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Book Review: Bloodlines by Richelle Mead

Spin offs are a tricky thing. When done well, they can add great insight and new layers to a world the author created in a previous work. When done badly they can ruin a reader's perception of the characters they'd loved in the original work.

Richelle Mead's Bloodlines, the first book in a series that spins off of her popular Vampire Academy books, is definitely the former.

I'll be honest. I was hesitant to read Vampire Academy. In a slew of vampire books, I just felt a little burnt out. But some friends convinced me that the books were worth while, and when I started reading the series, I couldn't stop. I devoured them in just a few days last year. So, when I learned that Mead was writing a spin off series featuring Adrian, my favorite character from the Vampire Academy books, I was instantly intrigued.

Bloodlines picks up where the final Vampire Academy novel, Last Sacrifice, left us last December. But instead of seeing the story through the eyes of spunky, sassy Rose Hathaway, we're instead presented with Sydney Sage, a recurring character from the original series, who has just been given a new assignment: protect the vampire queen's sister, Jill.

Through Sydney's eyes, we get to see a new side of the world we were presented with in the Vampire Academy novels, but instead of Moroi (good vampires) politics, we're given the chance to see into the lives of Alchemists, a group whose purpose it is to protect humans from vampires. The Alchemists believe that vampires are all abominations, beliefs perpetuated by their religion. Mead does a good job of making these beliefs sympathetic and understandable, even if the reader knows (from knowing characters in previous books) that this attitude is unfair. My only complaint is that she didn't explore Sydney's religion, which is vaguely referenced multiple times, as deeply as she could have. This, of course, may come in later books, but it would have been interesting to see religion come into play more since a lot of YA books leave it out all together.

The Alchemists believe that all vampires - good or bad - are abominations, but they also know that to keep the vampire race in order, Moroi government must be upheld. Which is why Sydney is assigned to protect Jill, sister of the new vampire queen. In order to stay on the throne, the queen must have at least one living relative, and Jill is that only relative. After an attack on her life, Jill is sent into hiding, and Sydney is assigned to go with her. They are sent Palm Springs, California (a place most vampires avoid) to attend a prestigious boarding school. Admittedly, this plot point had me raising an eyebrow. But Mead pulls it off in a believable, logical way that doesn't feel at all like Gossip Girl with vampires, the way I worried it might. Instead, the school and the town both felt very realistic and not over-glamorized.

Sydney isn't the only one keeping an eye on Jill. Eddie, Jill's guardian, also enrolls at the school, and Adrian, another vampire and close friend of Jill's, is staying nearby. This is the part of the book I was waiting for. One of my favorite parts of Vampire Academy was the character of Adrian, and I was eager to see where this snarky, tortured character went in the new series. I wasn't disappointed. Adrian is still snarky, still wounded, still flawed beyond belief, and still one of the best written characters in YA. It was nice to see him grow and shed a few layers in this book, but still remain true to the Adrian I knew and loved from the original series.

Bloodlines featured several great mysteries that kept the pages turning. Those hoping for romance might be a tad disappointed, though. Mead doesn't rush her characters into insta-love. Instead, she appears to be taking it slow. Bloodlines is far more about the action and adventure these characters get into than about their love lives. It falls more into the category of "urban fantasy" than "paranormal romance," though I'm sure there will eventually be a love story in the series. Personally, I found this delightful. It's a nice change from many of the books in it's genre at the moment, and it felt far more natural and authentic for the characters.

The writing is occasionally clunky and awkward, and those looking for perfect prose might find themselves getting frustrated, but what Mead may lack in syntax she more than makes up for in character development. Just as in Vampire Academy, all the characters in Bloodlines shine - the good guys and the bad. They're complicated, unique, and totally believable. Especially Adrian, but I think I've said that before, haven't I?

Fans of the Vampire Academy series will absolutely devour Bloodlines, and if you haven't read the read the original series, I suggest you do right away! Because if Bloodlines is any indication, this new spin off series has the potential to be even better than the first.

Kody Keplilnger

Kody is the NYT bestselling author of The DUFF, Shut Out, and A Midsummer's Nightmare, all from Little Brown/Poppy, as well as Lying Out Loud, Run, and the middle grade novel The Swift Boys and Me, from Scholastic. Born and raised in Kentucky, she now lives in NYC.

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  1. I was really disappointed by this but Adrian get me going. I know that the author is talented and that the series has potential which is enough to look forward to the future books but I really do hope they get better. Great review ;)

  2. I was really disappointed in it too. The mystery of the tattoos was pretty obvious, and the rest was just kind of...boring. I kept waiting for something to happen. Then when it did, I felt like, "That was it?" I kept reading for Adrian and will read the next book because I trust the author, but this was definitely a rough beginning to a new series.

  3. I haven't read the book, but I don't think I'm gonna read it if it's not that good...(thanks for the awesome review XD)

    Plus, in my opinion romantic vamp novels are starting to getting old...

  4. How do you choose what books to review? Would you consider my ebook? How do I go about this? Is chocolate involved?



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Item Reviewed: Book Review: Bloodlines by Richelle Mead Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Kody Keplinger