Friday, July 25, 2014

The Golden Lily by Richelle Mead

The Golden Lily
By Richelle Mead
Published: June 12, 2012
Publisher: Razorbill
Pages: 418
Format: Hardcover
Book 2 in the Bloodlines series
5 stars

Sydney Sage is an Alchemist, one of a group of humans who dabble in magic and serve to bridge the worlds of humans and vampires. They protect vampire secrets—and human lives.

Sydney would love to go to college, but instead, she’s been sent into hiding at a posh boarding school in Palm Springs, California–tasked with protecting Moroi princess Jill Dragomir from assassins who want to throw the Moroi court into civil war. Formerly in disgrace, Sydney is now praised for her loyalty and obedience, and held up as the model of an exemplary Alchemist.

But the closer she grows to Jill, Eddie, and especially Adrian, the more she finds herself questioning her age–old Alchemist beliefs, her idea of family, and the sense of what it means to truly belong. Her world becomes even more complicated when magical experiments show Sydney may hold the key to prevent becoming Strigoi—the fiercest vampires, the ones who don’t die. But it’s her fear of being just that—special, magical, powerful—that scares her more than anything. Equally daunting is her new romance with Brayden, a cute, brainy guy who seems to be her match in every way. Yet, as perfect as he seems, Sydney finds herself being drawn to someone else—someone forbidden to her.

When a shocking secret threatens to tear the vampire world apart, Sydney’s loyalties are suddenly tested more than ever before. She wonders how she's supposed to strike a balance between the principles and dogmas she's been taught, and what her instincts are now telling her.

Should she trust the Alchemists—or her heart?

Opening Thoughts
So, as many of you may know, I'm currently in the process of rereading this series in preparation for the release of Silver Shadows which I'm very excited about, as you all may have been able to deduce because it's been my Waiting on Wednesday like three times. This book I do believe was not quite as good as book one in the series,Bloodlines. That being said, I still loved it, and I firmly believe that it deserves the five stars that I gave it. As with Bloodlines, there's not a ton of action, but there's certainly enough to keep you interested and engaged throughout the book.

Sydney definitely grows between the first book and the second book. I thought that it was quite a positive growth, though I don't think that her Alchemist superiors would agree with me. She's slowly becoming more accepting of vampires, and particularly vampire magic, and seeing that even though vampires are evil and unnatural according to Alchemist beliefs, maybe there are humans that are a million times worse than the vampires that she is associating with in Palm Springs. She's still kind of uptight, but she's beginning to make decisions based on what she feels is right, regardless of the fact that the Alchemists would very much frown upon her actions. I think that there is a certain kind of bravery in going against everything you've ever been taught in order to do what you believe is right. Perhaps it's not the typical kind of bravery, but I do believe that it's brave nonetheless. 

"Nothing he said could change what I think of you. I've had my mind made up about you for a long time...and it's all good."

"Adrian stood there leaning against the door frame, watching me with his heart in his eyes. In my chest, my own heart was breaking. On my cheek, the lily reminded me who I was."

I loved Adrian even more in this book than I did in the first book. Adrian will definitely surprise you in this book. When you hear people talk about him, you would probably think that Adrian is an arrogant asshole, and while yes, there are certainly times that he can lean towards that attitude, most of the time, he's sweet and caring and kind and smart. Yes, smart. Adrian can be smart, you just have to give him a chance. In theBloodlines series, you definitely see more of Adrian's sensitive and vulnerable side than you do in Vampire Academy. I think that in Vampire Academy, Adrian kind of built up this facade, and he only ever really lets it down around Sydney. 

"I tried to be a better person for her - but it was to impress her, to get her to want me. But when I'm around you, I want to be better because...well, because it feels right. Because I want to. You make me want to become something greater than myself. I want to excel. You inspire me in every act, every word, every glance. I look at you, and you're light made into flesh. [...] You have no clue how beautiful you are, or how brightly you shine."

"You need me? You yell. You want to leave? We go. I'll get you out of here, no matter what."

Now, I would like to talk about Adrian, and Sydney together. I love them together. They are absolutely one of my OTP's (One True Pairing, if you don't know what that means). They bring out the best qualities in each other. Sydney doesn't put up with any of Adrian's crap. She doesn't let him just breeze through life like everyone else does. She does't just brush it off, and say, "Oh, well that's Adrian." Adrian helps Sydney loosen up, and stands up for her. Every time either of them interact, I start smiling like a maniac, because they're just too cute. I think that I wouldn't love this series near as much as I do if weren't for Adrian and Sydney. And while Richelle Mead excels at pretty much every aspect of writing a book, characters, and character development, is definitely her strong suit. The characters in her books make the books for me. I'd probably still enjoy them, but I definitely wouldn't love them. 

"He shouldn't have said that," repeated Adrian, eerily serious. He leaned his face towards mine. "I don't care if he's not the emotional type, or the complimentary type, or what. No one can look at you in that dress, in all that fire and gold, and start talking about anachronisms. If I were him, I would have said, 'You are the most beautiful creature I have ever seen walking this earth."

"He shook his head. "No. Because there's no one else out there who understands you like I do." I waited for more. "That's it? You're not going to elaborate on what that means?" Those green eyes held me. "I don't think I need to."

"Isn't it obvious, Sage? No, of course it isn't. I did it so I'd have a reason to be around you - one I knew you couldn't refuse."

The plot is brilliant, as Richelle Mead's plots tend to always be. It's full of twists and turns, with more action than Bloodlines, though again, not as much as Vampire Academy, as should be expected, because neither Sydney nor Adrian, the two main characters are fighters, as Rose and Dimitri are in Vampire Academy. However, Sydney is starting to get in on the action through her independent study with Ms. Terwilliger. I won't reveal exactly what she does in her independent study for the sake of spoilers, but it's certainly giving her some more power, and helping her to not feel so helpless and weak in the face of Strigoi, and the other people that are after their little group in Palm Springs. Again, I won't tell you who's after them, because I don't want to spoil anything, so you'll just have to read the book yourself. Richelle Mead's writing is just as addicting and engaging as always. It sucks you in and doesn't let you go until the very last page.

Overall, this is another fantastic installment in this series, and I would highly recommend it to anyone who enjoys this series, or the Vampire Academy series. I would also recommend Richelle Mead's work to Jennifer L. Armentrout fans. The two authors have a similar writing style, and I think that if you enjoy one then you would also enjoy the other.

Let me know your thoughts on this book!  Did you like it?  Are you excited for Silver Shadows?  Thanks for reading!


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