Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Book Review: Vampire Academy

Sometimes, it amazes me how much a book can influence my mood. Some books are able to drag me out of a funk and get me excited about turning the page. Despite whatever crap has gone on that day, I find myself smiling while reading a good book.  I crave those days where I can fully immerse myself in wonderful prose and deep characters. 

Vampire Academy by Rachel Mead felt...shallow.  There was a world but we've seen it before. Yes, there are vampires out there in paranormal books/series. There's no real connection with anything else in this book. It just felt plopped down in the middle of nowhere where the outside world really can't interact. Which I get...but it felt like a cheap way of doing things.

I'm not a big fan of the cover either. That's not to say that simple covers are bad but this feels like a cop out in some ways. I would have liked it with just the letters. I would have liked it with just the girl in the background. But both feels like the artist couldn't make up her mind. And really? Red cover for a vampire book? It's been done. Do something else. 

Rose and Lissa have been on the run for a long time. Running from their pasts and obligations but also running from danger. Rose is desperate to keep Lissa safe, a Moroi vampire who helps sustain the regular population of vampires. When they are finally caught and brought back to their special vampire school, they are expected to catch up and attend classes like normal students. But the threat seems to follow them wherever they go.  Add in boys, forbidden romances and dead things that randomly crop up and you have a recipe for an interesting school year.

The differences between the different vampires was never fully explained, in my opinion. The why aspect of it seemed to be missing. Like the "why should I care" and "what impact does their own classification have on normal humans aka the vast population of the world". I hate it when authors ignore the fact that their books have to exist in a full world, not just a little bubble.  It makes it so there are very few real world consequences for their actions.

Also, what do they do? How do they make money? How can they afford to keep feeders alive and run a school and purchase expensive gifts?  It this like Vampire Knight where everybody is a model and an actress or whatever? Was this explained but only briefly so I found myself not caring?

Lissa was absolutely helpless in all things. She didn't even flail or freak out. She just turns inwards, hurts herself and expects someone to rescue her.  She is the definition of a helpless main character. Lissa is supposed to be protected in all things but why not have a way to protect yourself, besides relying on other people? I mean, most kings and princes in medieval times trained with a sword, even if it was just for show. Give them a gun! Give them poison darts or tasers or something! The Moroi are the epitome of sitting ducks in this series. I can't stand it when people don't even try to take basic cautionary measures to protect themselves. It's the same as not locking your car doors because one of your neighbors might see the thief and tell them to stop.

Rose was a bit more entertaining to read but I found her mostly unrealistic. It's hard work getting into shape and 4 or 5 hours of training each day would be enough to make it so that you are so tired, you can't even get in the shower. 
There was not any of that. You never get used to working out. If you stop getting sore, then you are doing something wrong and you aren't making yourself any stronger. If you are no longer hurting after combat style training, then somebody is going way too easy on you and you aren't learning anything.  Rose also has a reputation of a town bicycle and she acts like it is somebody else's fault in some ways. She never owns up to her past and confronts it.  She just hopes that she can let it die. No wonder there are rumors about them. You have to tackle your history and prove people wrong, not just ignore it when they trash talk you.  It is really hard for me to get on the side of someone that never seems to own up to her mistakes.  It makes her look more childish than she is. 

Christian was the only character that had depth to him.  He has a history and a reason for being the way he is.  I like the idea of an outcast coming to help people and he is a good character for it. He is strong and has good morals, despite his familial problems. I sympathized with him and I wanted him to have more of a role than the girls. 

Dimitri was basically a big hunk of man flesh that played the role of stoic love interest. It's not that I didn't like him, but I've seen him before. I got sick of the "comrade" jokes pretty quickly and he seems like an underdeveloped character that was there out of convenience. "Oh...I need a male complication to throw in!" *hurls a buff Russian man into the plot*

Also, there was no real threat of danger. The Strigoi are never truly scary in any of it and by leaving a significant portion of your population defenseless, the author is telling me that they aren't scary to her either. It's like being scared of tarantulas. Pretty logical in principle, but never an actual problem. 

Maybe I'm not over being a grump and I'm being ridiculous about this.  Maybe I have seen too many books like this. Maybe this is fallout from the Twilight books but this has definitely set me back a few steps when getting over my thing about vampire books. They have to be unique and if they aren't, I find myself being super critical and not liking them at all.

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