Wednesday 7 September 2011

Book Review: Bloodlines by Richelle Mead.

Product details:
Publisher: Puffin/Razorbill
Paperback, 432 pages.
Release date: August 25th 2011
Rating: 3½ out of 5.
Ages: 12+
Source: Received from Publisher for review.

 Sydney protects vampire secrets - and human lives. Sydney belongs to a secret group who dabble in magic and serve to bridge the world of humans and vampires. But when Sydney is torn from her bed in the middle of the night, she fears she's still being punished for her complicated alliance with dhampir Rose Hathaway. What unfolds is far worse. The sister of Moroi queen Lissa Dragomir is in mortal danger, and goes into hiding. Now Sydney must act as her protector. The last thing Sydney wants is to be accused of sympathizing with vampires. And now she has to live with one..

Bloodlines, Richelle Mead’s hotly anticipated Vampire Academy spin-off and one of my most anticipated reads of the year is finally here. While it lacks the sizzling romance and page turning plot twists of the Vampire Academy books, Bloodlines is nonetheless a solid start to what will hopefully become an unmissable series. Opening in the aftermath of events in Last Sacrifice when rules were broken, hearts were shattered and the Moroi world welcomed a new leader in the form of Queen Vasilisa Dragomir, Bloodlines sees the action move from St. Vladimir’s Academy to Palm Springs where things are not always as sunny as they seem.

The action here centers around Jill Mastrano, who finds that being the only living relative of the new Moroi Queen is not all it’s cracked up to be when an attempt is made on her life.   With Jill’s survival essential to Lissa’s continued reign as Queen, the alchemists and the Moroi must do everything in their power to protect her from further attacks. A plan is put in place which sees Jill go into hiding at Amberwood Prep, an exclusive private school in Palm Springs, with Sydney acting as her sister and roommate.  Also along for the ride are Jill’s Dhampir guardian Eddie Castile, another alchemist called Keith, and Adrian Ivashkov, that hotter than hot Moroi party boy who surely doesn’t need any further introduction! Figuring that Palm Springs with its sunny climate will be a relatively safe haven from Strigoi attacks, Sydney anticipates an uneventful couple months in the company of Jill. However she soon discovers some strange goings on in Palm Springs with students sporting alchemist tattoos at every turn and a spate of Moroi murders which put her on high alert.  Danger is near and Jill might be next.

When I first heard that Richelle Mead was planning a Vampire Academy spin-off I was totally excited but also concerned when I heard of the choice of alchemist Sydney Sage as narrator.  While Sydney played an important role in later Vampire Academy books as our introduction to the world of the alchemists and as an ally to Rose, for me she was always a very forgettable character, and even dull at times.  That’s the problem with creating a heroine as kick-ass awesome as Rose - she’s a hard act to follow.  As an alchemist, Sydney has been raised to see vampires and their like as unnatural beings, but even though she is uncomfortable in their presence, she does her alchemist duty, protecting the human world from unsavoury vampire goings on. Sydney respects authority, she follows rules, she does what’s expected of her by her alchemist elders, and it’s safe to say that her life is not a whole lot of fun.  Also, while Rose Hathaway was lusted after for her sultry looks, Sydney is insecure and in need of constant reassurance as far as her looks and weight are concerned.  These character traits grated on me after a while and did little to endear me to Sydney, as she moaned about her dress size, complained about her looks and barely ate a complete meal throughout the book.

As with any first book in a series, there is a certain amount of world and character building in Bloodlines.  However, if you are contemplating picking up this book without having first read the Vampire Academy novels, I would strongly advise against it. Strigoi, Moroi and Dhampir politics and mythology are complicated at the best of times, and while you may enjoy Bloodlines on a superficial level without first having read the original series, you won’t fully grasp the intricacies of certain relationships or interactions without having the required background knowledge information those books will provide you with.

 Despite the fact that I haven’t yet fully warmed to the character of Sydney or her turn as narrator I can’t deny that I loved being back in the Vampire Academy world, particularly since Adrian is back too. I was saddened for Adrian as Last Sacrifice drew to a close, and I loved catching up with him here in the aftermath of  his heartbreak at the hands of one ‘little dhampir’. All I can say is that I’m really looking forward to what comes next for Adrian, because with one signature twist, Mead hooked me once again, and left me counting down the days to The Golden Lily, the next installment in the series, which releases in June 2012. Now I can’t wait to see how that particular twist plays out!


  1. I've heard others same similar things about Sydney - it's a shame you couldn't connect to her fully. Glad you enjoyed it overall though, and I'm looking forward to more Adrian too! Great review :).

  2. The thing about her dress size etc really bugged me as well. Of course, I was extremely happy to see my Adrian again :P

  3. I was never really a big fan of Sydney either, which makes me hesitant about Bloodlines. She complained about her weight, etc? You are right--Annoying, especially after we've gotten so used to Rose. I heard that there was a crazy twist at the usual. That's what makes Mead so addicting! Great review! I hope that the next books in the series only get better...I've been missing Vampire Academy!

  4. aaaahhhh great review!! I am so looking forward to reading this one, I know it won't be as good as the VA series because it's the first in the series so my expectations won't be so high but I miss Adrian and can't wait to read what happened to him after Last Sacrifice. =D

  5. Awesome review. I actually really liked Sydney as a narrator, all her weight hangups were the fault of her father and I got that and thought it was such a shame he'd caused her to have such a negative view of herself. I totally agree that the twist at the end made the book, and definitely pushed my rating up from a 3 to a 4. I'm excited for the next book now too!

    The Cait Files

  6. I was an Adrian fan in the VA books, but here, in Bloodlines, his charm mysteriously vanished and I was glad that he's not going to end up with Jill, as I'd originally hoped. I'll also be really frustrated if both girls end up in love triangles. There are other ways to make interesting romantic storylines. Just sayin'.

    Also, while I agree that Sydney is meant to have self-confidence issues because of her father, I don't agree that Richelle Mead made that clear. To me, Sydney's complaints about her weight are off-putting--not worthy of sympathy.

  7. I had a couple of friends who felt the same way about you towards the characters. I just finished Bloodlines last night and absolutely loved it. Great honest review Leanna :)

  8. I have only red the first book in the Vampire Academy and while I enjoyed it I doubt I will be reading the rest. As I was reading this review, I realized just how little I knew about the characters in the first series and thought I would have a hard time with this book. Then you basically said the same thing. Loved the review, but I think I will be skipping this one.

  9. Loved the review! I adored this book. It is a great sipn off. I can't wait to read more!

  10. @Cait - I totally understand that Syndey has had a pretty rotten upbringing at the hands of her father. I don't have a problem with body image issues in books, but the way it was handled here just annoyed me! Her constant need for reassurance just didn't sit well with me.

    @Ruby - I adore Adrian, but I agree - he was missing a little of his spark here. I blame Hathaway. Hopefully he'll be back to normal in the next book!

  11. I'm sad that this was just an alright read for you :| I didn't really like Sydney in VA so I had low expectations for her in this spin off but because I think I had such low expectations she surprised me and I actually liked her! Okay she's no Rose but that wasn't going to happen for me anyway because Rose is my favourite heroine EVER but I think she has the potential to grow and I enjoyed seeing things from her alchemist point of view :)

    Agreed that it was great to be back in this world and yay for Adrian time!

  12. Thanks for this review Leanna, I was curious to see what you thought of Sydney. She wasn't my favorite character in VA so I was a little worried about her as the narrator of this one. Good to know that even though you didn't warm to her entirely, there's still a lot of good stuff going on. Like Adrian. I love him:)

  13. I've still got to read The Last Sacrifice, but I'm excited to read the spin-off series as well! I've heard a lot of good things about it!

  14. I loved this book. Unlike you and a lot of other people, I had no reservations going in, so I immediately embraced it whole-heartedly. I thought Sydney was great. I related to a lot of her insecurities, because she and I are very similar in personality and insecurities, but I can see how she'd be irritating. I also love Adrian and am happy that he gets a life beyond Rose.


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