And if, like me, you were constantly frustrated with the fact that, for all her bravery, Bella always had to rely on others to protect her from dangerous vampires, Richelle Mead’s “Vampire Academy” is the perfect antidote. In this book and its three sequels, the vampires are the ones who need protecting from the likes of Rose Hathaway. She’s a Dhampir, half human and half vampire, in training to be a guardian of full-blooded vampires called Moroi (yeah, all these special terms are annoying at first, but you get used to ’em), who are constantly in danger of being attacked by Strigoi — the evil, undead bloodsuckers along the lines of Dracula (you know, red eyes, kill people, can’t go out in sunlight). But when we first meet rebellious Rose, she and her best friend, vampire princess Lissa Dragomir, they’ve been on the run and living among humans for two years. And though Rose hasn’t finished her training, she’s got an extra skill that helps her take care of her friend, she can slip inside Lissa’s head, seeing what she sees and feeling her emotions.
Of course, as the title implies, they wind up back at the Vampire Academy, which ironically happens to be a more dangerous place than the outside world. It’s also more exciting, thanks to Rose’s fighting tutor, gorgeous Russian guardian Dimitri. Between catching up on two years of training and boarding-school politics, crushing on her teacher and fending off the attentions of some old flames, Rose would have her hands full. But she’s also got to help Lissa, who’s battling some severe depression that isn’t exactly helped by the fact that someone keeps dropping off small dead animals in her dorm room, which is why they skipped town in the first place.
This series is heavy on the action, sexual tension and some old-school vampire politics. Rose is certainly more apt to kick butt than to brood, and likewise, these aren’t exactly deep, contemplative stories. What they are is exciting, empowering and un-put-downable. But as the series goes on and Rose matures, she starts becoming a more multidimensional character. The latest installment, “Blood Promise,” has some genuinely tear-jerking moments — but not too many, because soon it’s time for Rose to kick ass again.
With so many young adult vampire books being optioned for movies and TV shows these days, I seriously don’t understand why this one has yet to be snatched up. The boarding school setting is ideal for a TV show — but Rose and Lissa’s off-campus adventures (at a ski resort, in a royal compound, in Siberia) could be beautifully cinematic. And I wouldn’t mind seeing Dimitri come to life on the big screen either …
Have you read the “Vampire Academy” books? Tell us what you think of them here!