Vampire Academy #1: Vampire Academy – Richelle Mead

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Vampire Academy

Warning! There will be spoilers!

Vampire Academy is without any shred of doubt in my mind, my absolute favorite series of all time. I have read the entire series over and over again and I hope to continue doing so until I’m all old and wrinkled.
Hidden within these amazing pages is a story about friendship, forbidden romance, magic, mystery, power, lust, family and self discovery that I can connect with on so many levels.

Also, anyone who follows me on any type of social media knows that my OTP of all time is Lissa and Christian. What about Rose and Dimitri? you might be thinking. Don’t worry! I love them very much as well, but although I see a lot of myself in Rose (her impulsiveness, stubbornness and passion) I think when it comes to a romantic relationship I can see so much more of myself and my boyfriend in what Christian and Lissa have. (I have also made myself a Christian and Lissa poster which I put on Twitter to prove my point).

Either way, I have found so much joy and life lessons from reading these books and am glad to finally be able to review them all.

Published: August 16th 2007

Page Count: 332

“Lissa Dragomir is a Moroi princess: a mortal vampire with a rare gift for harnessing the earth’s magic. She must be protected at all times from Strigoi; the fiercest vampires – the ones who never die. The powerful blend of human and vampire blood that flows through Rose Hathaway, Lissa’s best friend, makes her a dhampir. Rose is dedicated to a dangerous life of protecting Lissa from the Strigoi, who are hell-bent on making Lissa one of them.

After two years of freedom, Rose and Lissa are caught and dragged back to St. Vladimir’s Academy, a school for vampire royalty and their guardians-to-be, hidden in the deep forests of Montana. But inside the iron gates, life is even more fraught with danger . . . and the Strigoi are always close by.

Rose and Lissa must navigate their dangerous world, confront the temptations of forbidden love, and never once let their guard down, lest the evil undead make Lissa one of them forever . . .”


~

One of the things that undoubtedly sets Vampire Academy aside from any other supernatural YA book, even within the first few pages is the role that both Rose and Lissa play within the vampire community. They aren’t just discovering it, but they are living it. The know more than the readers do and it’s now up to us to catch up on how everything interacts with each other. 
While a lot of authors handle the introduction of a magical world to a mere human very well (kudos to Cassie Clare) I think it’s always a very hard balance between not overdoing the whole ‘OMG magic is real?!’ and also making sure the reactions are natural. It can easily make the first couple (hundred) pages of a book a bit boring and it seems to deflect from the awesomeness that could otherwise have been an amazing book since you’re too busy screaming at the main character ‘vampires are real, get over with it already!’. Now I’m not saying that’s always bad (for example, take The Mortal Instruments where it’s done in a wonderful way) but I also think that it adds a level of excitement to the reader if the characters are already deep within the realms of this magical world, like Rose and Lissa.  

Rose and Lissa are such a power duo and represent everything done perfectly with friendship in a YA book. Sure, they have problems but they know how much they mean to each other and it always comes back to that, no matter what kind of a hell they have gone through. I think the fact that the Vampire Academy series focuses just as much on friendship than (and if not more) romance is good. I think romance is a way overdone thing in YA and we seem to forget the most important relationships – friendships. 
Rose and Lissa are also way polar opposites to each other: Rose is dark haired and tan skinned, Lissa is fair and pale. 

“With her pretty face and pale blond hair, she looked more like an angel than a vampire.”


Rose acts impulsively and irrationally sometimes, Lissa likes to think things through and do things logically and systematically. Rose settles fights with fists, Lissa with words. They balance each other out amazingly, and somehow remind me of me of my own best friend who could practically look any more opposite to me. 
Rose and Lissa do have their hardships and arguments, that’s true, but I think what they argue about it also important to consider. They don’t fight over the most tedious things such as boys or gossip but actual, real problems, such as Lissa’s cutting, Rose having to leave her, her spirit powers and so forth. They are deep and meaningful and bring them closer together. 


“Forcing five-year-olds to spell Vasilisa Dragomir and Rosemarie Hathaway was beyond cruel, and we’d – or rather, I’d – responded appropriately. I’d chucked my book at our teacher and called her a fascist bastard. I hadn’t known what those words meant, but I’d known how to hit a moving target.Lissa and I had been inseparable ever since.”


What I also love is just how selfless Rose can be around Lissa. We all know she is reckless and does think about herself a lot but when it comes to Lissa, no one comes first (except Dimitri, at times, but shhh). She gives her her blood, although she knows she’d be called a blood whore for it, she sacrifices a romantic relationship with Dimitri and puts Lissa first, although it hurts her daily. And even when all these problems are brought to the forefront (later on in the series), it’s never because of Rose being selfless, but because she suppresses her feelings at times, and has pent up emotions to deal with. 

“Doing that…protecting her like that – it was very brave.” He paused. “Stupid, but still brave.”


Dimitri and Rose’s relationship is complicated to say the least. Rose has a major crush on Dimitri, and she just can’t stop getting him out of her mind. The fact that Dimitri is a tall, gorgeous Russian older man doesn’t really help the matter along. 

“My name is Dimitri Belikov,” he said. I could hear a faint Russian accent. “I’ve come to take you back to St. Vladimir’s Academy, Princess.” 

“And then, suddenly he was there, charging down the hallway like Death in a cowboy duster.”

“And, finally, I noticed that a hot flush was spreading over me, and that the look in his eyes was doing more to me than Jesse’s kisses had.”

It doesn’t take her very long to figure out that no, she doesn’t just like him for his looks and mysterious nature, but she discovers that they both have the same understanding of the world. They both realize their responsibilities and what they need to sacrifice to keep up with their guardian jobs, and they’re both willing to do that more so than anyone else, despite their age. 

“You understand your responsibilities better than guardians twice  your age.”

One of the most meaningful conversations that the two of them have together is about Dimitri wanting someone to kill him if he ever would be turned into a Strigoi. I think this is especially one of the moments where they connect on a real spiritual level and where age never meant anything for the two of them. 

I also absolutely love the sass between them. The banter between them is one of the reasons I love reading about their training sessions so much and is definitely one of my favorite aspects of the series.


“Hey, Comrade.” 


“He shrugged. “She might be wild and disrespectful, but if she has potential -““Wild and disrespectful?” I interrupted. “Who the hell are you anyway? Outsourced help?”“Guardian Belikov is the princess’s guardian now,” said Kirova. “Her sanctioned guardian.”“You got cheap foreign labor to protect Lissa?”

“So tell me this: suppose to manage to kidnap her again and take her off to the mall. While you’re there, a Strigoi comes at you. What will you do?”“Depends on what store we’re in.” 

“I guess there was ‘usually’ and then there was being held in the grip of a really ripped, really tall, and really pissed-off Russian guy.”

“The battle cry sort of gave you away. Try not to yell next time.” “Would it have really made a difference if I’d been quiet?”He thought about it. “No. Probably not.”

Not only that, but when things get really steamy between Dimitri and Rose, it’s just that much better because of the forbidden love aspect. She really wants him and it kills her inside every day because she can’t have him. In the end, they decide not to act upon their feelings, since they both have their responsibilities as guardians and can’t get distracted by each other when they have to be out protecting the Moroi which makes the entire situation even more complicated. 


 “Don’t cut it,” he said gruffly.Somehow, I remembered how to talk again. “But no one’ll see my tattoos if I don’t.”He moved toward the doorway, a small smile playing over his lips. “Wear it up.”


“Swallowing, I asked again, “Do you think I’m pretty?”He regarded me with utter seriousness, like he always did. “I think you’re beautiful.”“Beautiful?”“You are so beautiful, it hurts me sometimes.”


“Am I going to endanger my reputation if I wear it to the dance?”When he spoke, I could barely hear him. “You’ll endanger the school.”


“The only thing better than imagining Dimitri carrying me in his arms was imagining him shirtless while carrying me in his arms.”


“If I let myself love you, I won’t throw myself in front of her. I’ll throw myself in front of you.” 

Then there’s another slight complication to her life: Mason. Oh, sweet poor Mason (especially if you know what’s going to happen in Frostbite). He adores her so very much but she just can’t return the feelings. I do think that she does truly think about giving Mason a go, but that she just can’t do that when she can’t stop thinking about Dimitri. I do really feel bad at him at times, but I also think he handles things in a good way and like a true friend.


“I couldn’t be Mason’s girlfriend because when I imagined someone holding me and whispering dirty things in my ear, he had a Russian accent.”


“Hey Mason, wipe the drool off your face. If you’re going to think about me naked, do it on your own time.”


Now, let us get to my favorite OTP of all times: Lissa and Christian (*angel chorus*). The princess and the outcast. The fair haired princess and the dark haired rebel. They are just a match made in heaven for me. I think that the attic scenes between the two of them are my favorite parts of the whole book, both because of the snarkiness that Christian has but also the cute, romantic moments that spark between the two of them. 
When Christian finally kisses her in the end it always makes me melt into a big puddle of happiness and I enter into a super intense fangirl moment, because OMG is that kiss just so passionate and cute and perfect. 

        “You can have to Academy but not the window seat.” 



“Don’t worry,” he said. “I won’t bite. Well, at least not in the way you’re afraid of.”


“Then out of nowhere, he leaned forward and kissed her. It was hot and fast and furious, an outpouring of the rage and passion and longing that Christian always kept locked inside of him. Lissa had never been kissed like that, and I felt her respond to it, respond to him – how he made her feel so much more alive than Aaron or anyone else could.Christian pulled back from the kiss but still kept his face next to hers.“That’s what you do with someone you like.”

“In some ways, Lissa and Christian were perfect for each other. Maybe they were outcasts, but the Dragomirs and Ozeras had once been among the most powerful Moroi leaders. and in only a very short time, Lissa and Christian had started shaping one another in ways that could put them right up there with their ancestors. He was picking up some of her polish and social poise; she was learning to stand up for her passions. The more I watched them, he more I could see an energy and confidence radiating around themThey weren’t going to stay down either.”

I feel that especially that last quote really sums up why I ship Lissa and Christian so much. I love how they both have their insecurities but together they strengthen and renew each other in such a deep way. It’s funny actually, because just like how Lissa and Rose are polar opposites, so are Lissa and Christian in some ways. They might be very different to one another but they fit perfectly together, like two pieces in a puzzle. 


May I also just add in there how much I love the banter between Rose and Christian? I feel like not many people point this out and praise it as much as it should be praised. It is absolutely hilarious and needs more attention. 


“I’m going to kill you.” “Why? Is it like guardian extra credit?”

“A ghostly smile flickered across his face. “If you weren’t psychotic, you’d be fun to hang around.”“Funny, I feel that way about you too.”


I definitely think that Vampire Academy is just an amazing kick off to one of the best series of all time. No, it doesn’t have all the magic and action that the later books have, but it does an amazing job in introducing us to them main characters, giving us an insight into this beautiful fictional world of the Moroi and dhampirs as well as set the plot for later on. Did I also mention just how well Richelle can add in foreshadowing into her books? If you’ve only read the Vampire Academy books once, I highly recommend rereading them at least one more time, and focus on just how many small little hints are dropped, it will blow your mind. 

Another thing that I’d like to point out is that you can already see a significant character development in Rose even just in the course of this small first book. You can already see the first steps she takes to maturing and see how she begins to see the world through different eyes.  

I also really need to give Richelle some credit here for going into some controversial territory, with Lissa’s cutting and depression. Although I think it’s a horrible thing to think about, I think it’s important to raise awareness of issues like this which are very real and are happening right now. This is a great way to spread the message that depression is never ones own fault and no one should ever believe that. 

When I first read the book, I have to say that I was majorly shocked by Victor Dashkov’s reveal! Maybe a lot of people saw it coming but I feel like I felt the betrayal just as hard as Lissa and Rose did. Yet again, there is a major foreshadowing aspect to what happens with Victor later on which gives me the chills. 


~


Other Favorite Quotes:

“Beside him, holding his hand, was a Moroi girl who looked about eleven but had to be older, unless he’d become a pedophile during our absence.” 


“Hey Rose, welcome back. You still breaking hearts?”
“Are you volunteering?”
  

“He was a royal Moroi, and he was so hot, she should have worn a WARNING: FLAMMABLE sign. He met my eyes and grinned.


“I had a standing arrangement with God: I’d agree to believe in him – barely – so long as he let me sleep in on Sundays.”


“Well. If that’s not friendship, I don’t know what it is,” he said. 


“Hands off the merchandise.”






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