Monday, July 14, 2014

Bloodlines by Richelle Mead

By Richelle Mead
Published: August 23, 2011
Publisher: Razorbill
Pages: 421
5 stars

Blood doesn't lie...
Sydney is an alchemist, one of a group of humans who dabble in magic and serve to bridge the worlds of human and vampires. They protect vampire secrets - and human lives. When Sydney is torn from her bed in the middle of the night, at first she thinks she's still being punished for her complicated alliance with dhampir Rose Hathaway. But what unfolds is far worse. Jill Dragomir - the sister of Moroi Queen Lissa Dragomir - is in mortal danger, and the Moroi must send her into hiding. To avoid a civil war, Sydney is called upon to act as Jill's guardian and protector, posing as her roommate in the last place anyone would think to look for vampire royalty - a human boarding school in Palm Springs, California. But instead of finding safety at Amberwood Prep, Sydney discovers the drama is only just beginning...

Opening Thoughts
I first read this book way back in early 2012 when I marathoned the Vampire Academy, and what was out of the Bloodlines series. I then reread it back in December of last year for the release of the Fiery Heart. I decided to pick this book up again last week in order to prepare for the release of Silver Shadows which comes out in about three weeks and I'm so excited I can't even contain it. I just skimmed it last year, so I didn't really remember anything, which was fantabulous because it was like reading it for the first time. There would e things that would happen and I'd be like, oh yeah, I think that this is what happens, and then something completely different would happen. I remember really enjoying it the first time I read it, but this time I absolutely loved it. I think that it was because I know what happens in the following books, and how all of the characters' stories play out, which I know a lot of people don't like, but that I find that a lot of the time it makes the reading experience more enjoyable.

Sydney is a very different character from Rose, from Vampire Academy. I know that a lot of people were very disappointed with Sydney's character, because she wasn't as strong as Rose was. If you have yet to read this series, you definitely need to not compare Rose to Sydney, because you will be disappointed. Sydney is, at least in this first book, the complete opposite of Rose. She's a lot more respectful of authority, which we all know Rose has issues with. Her skill set lies a lot more within academics, and her intelligence, rather than her athleticism. Her life is so completely controlled by the Alchemists, and I don't think that people really understand that. All of the Alchemists are pretty much brainwashed, and since Sydney is already in trouble for events that occur in the Vampire Academy series, she has to balance on a tightrope to keep everyone convinced that she isn't a "vamp-lover", for fear of being sent to a re-education center, a secretive Alchemist place, where Alchemists who are thought to have become to sympathetic to vampires are sent to see the error of their ways. She's also trying desperately to keep her younger sister, Zoe, out of the Alchemists, and one screw up and Sydney will be sent to re-education and Zoe will replace her. A lot of people call Sydney spineless, and weak, but I see it as her being strong enough to not only protect her own skin, but also her sister. She's also completely oblivious in several social situations, which was a) absolutely hilarious and b) super relatable because guys, that is me. We are so, so similar in so many ways. We're both socially awkward, but we don't have social anxiety, she's very efficient, and she does tasks that are assigned to her as quickly as possible, while still getting everything done that she needs to. She was not be a kick-ass fire, but she's kick-ass in her own way. She's so smart, and she can think on her feet, which can help her out of dangerous situations, without killing anyone who threatens her. 

“You are an exceptional, talented, and brilliant young woman. Do not ever let anyone make you feel like you’re less. Do not ever let anyone make you feel invisible. Do not let anyone—not even a teacher who constantly sends you for coffee—push you around.”

Then there's Adrian. I absolutely loved Adrian in Vampire Academy, not for Rose, I'll always ship Romitri, but I did love him as his own character. His banter with Sydney is so hilarious and there were so many times when I was laughing out loud. Adrian is not the perfect guy, with no issues whatsoever, but he isn't the "damaged" for lack of a better word, kind of guy that we see too often in both Young Adult, and New Adult, but particularly New Adult. He does have his issues, but they aren't overly dramatized (for the most part), which I'm kind of sick of right now. He's dealing with having spirit, and trying to drown his sorrows in alcohol and girls, yet also trying to restrain himself from that, for reatruggling sons that I won't disclose because of spoilers. Adrian is also struggling with getting over Rose, and kind of finding his place in the world. He needs someone to believe in him, and believe that he can be better than what he is now, and for him, that person is Sydney.

“Takes a lot of tries before you hit perfection." He paused to reconsider that. "Well, except for my parents. They got it on the first try."

“My God, Sage. Your eyes. How have I never noticed them?"

That uncomfortable feeling was spreading over me again. "What about them?"

"The color," he breathed. "When you stand in the light. They're amazing... like molten gold. I could paint those..." He reached toward me but then pulled back. "They're beautiful. You're beautiful.” 

Jill and Eddie were such great side characters. Richelle Mead does such a fantastic job developing all of the side characters, while a lot of authors would just let those characters fall to the side. I did find Jill to be slightly annoying and immature at times, but she is only fifteen, and her situation kind of sucks so it didn't really bother me that much. Eddie was one of my favorite characters from Vampire Academy and I loved seeing him develop even more in this book. He's so strong and totally badass, and wonderful, and apparently he has blonde hair which totally caught me by surprise because all through Vampire Academy and Bloodlines, and my many times rereading both these series, I thought that Eddie was a brunette, so I kept having to readjust my mental image of him, which was quite annoying, but that was my own fault, and not Richelle Mead's. 

The plot is fast-paced and entertaining. There's the perfect blend of light, funny topics, and serious and deeper points, that Richelle Mead does so beautifully. There is a lot less action than in Vampire Academy, but as the series continues, the action increases, though it never does quite reach the levels that Vampire Academy does. There were so many twists and turns that I had forgotten, and I was completely and utterly shocked when I read some of them. And I would just like to make a point that Richelle Mead writes the best cliffhangers. Her books are the kind of books where if you read the last sentence before reading the book then the whole thing is spoiled for you, because she tricks you into thinking that everything is going to wrap up all nice and tidy, and then on the very last sentence, she drops a bomb on you that leaves you gaping. 

Overall, this book was wonderful, and even better than the previous times I had read it. The writing is just as addictive as any of her other books. I would absolutely recommend this to any fans of Vampire Academy, though make sure that you read the Vampire Academy series prior to reading Bloodlines. It's a fantastic book, and even if you were a little bit disappointed with this one, I highly recommend that you continue the series, because it does improve in leaps and bounds as the series goes on.

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