Vampire Academy

Another gift from the Vampire Book Club : Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead. As I wrote before, I am an urban fantasy’s fan, and I have a penchant for vampires. After having read few novels that were forgotten as soon as I put them down, I gave Vampire Academy a try simply because the author lives in Seattle. And I am glad I did it. Spoiler Alert after the break.

Vampire Academy is the first in the homonymous series.  Rose and Lissa are the best of friends, they are inseparable. They live one for the other. Literally. Lissa is Vasilisa Dragomir, a Moroi, vampire royalty who can use magic. Rose is Rosemarie Hathaway, a dhampir, a hybrid, half human half vampire, whose purpose in life is to be eventually Lissa’ s guardian. This is the way of life for Moroi and dhampirs, but the two girls have a special bond. Rose can enter in Lissa’ s mind and feel and see anything she feels and sees. After having successfully lived for two years in the human world, hiding from a mysterious entity who threats Lissa’s life, they are tracked down and brought back to ST. Vladimir’s Academy by Dimitri Belikow, a Russian dhampir guard sent by the school. Once back at the Academy, the two girls  have to deal with teenager’s drama, and life and death problems. While Lissa is sent back to her classes, Rose has to put up with special training under Dimitri’s supervision. Soon Rose discovers that the reason why Lissa is becoming moody and unstable is because she uses the healing power which is almost unheard of among vampires. With the help of Dimitri, Rose manages to save Lissa from her ill uncle, who wants to use his niece to heal and reign as the new vampire king.

Vampire Academy is a fast read, it is well written, and most importantly its world is regulated by specific rules that limits the characters in their interaction. The Moroi are vampires who need dhampirs to defend themselves against the Strigoi. While the Moroi are vampires who feed from humans, but don’t kill them, the Strigoi are vampires who have killed humans. The Moroi are alive and use magical powers; the Strigoi are dead and have lost their connection with earth’s magic. Dhampirs are stronger than Moroi, but can’t procreate without their help. The two races need to stay united against the dead vampires. Rose and Lissa live in a heavily structured society and they break rules at every turn. Rose allows Lissa to feed from her, and falls in love with Dimitri, seven years older than her and dhampir. Lissa uses compulsion on other Moroi to do her bidding, and help cleaning Rose’s reputation.

As I wrote in another occasion, it is a pleasure when a literary universe is so well crafted that is believable. When Rose lets Lissa feed from her, the reader’s sentiments are a mix of disgust and fascination. When she gradually falls in love with Dimitri, it is evident that their union is doomed by society. Dhampirs as a species need Moroi to survive, and a damphir love story is taboo. Equally fascinating are the byproducts of such society. Rose is called a blood-whore, a dhampir woman who allows vampires to feed from her during sex. Young Moroi males find dhampir girls exotic and desirable compared to the thin and ethereal vampire girls, but never marry them. It’s interesting that the aspect of feeding is treated as something necessary, but somehow demeaning. Therefore humans exist at the fringe of the vampires’ world. Although treated gently, humans are no more than blood containers.

Vampire Academy is a good example that it is possible to infuse new energy in a genre that is not original anymore. Even in the overcrowded young adults paranormal romance category.  

Vampire Academy

Being Human Getting Personal

As I wrote before, I wondered if the American Being Human (ABH) was going to follow the British version (BBH) or not. It is and it isn’t from what I have seen so far. I have just started watching BBH’s second season, and ABH’s six episodes, and I have by now a clear idea of the route both series have taken. Spoiler Alert after the break.

ABH is following the basic structure of the British series, but it is also evolving in something interesting and quite different. The first noticeable difference is in the addition of several minor characters that help furthering the plot and the character growing. In the sixth episode Josh’s sister, Emily, is left by her girlfriend and is back in his life. Sally meets a new friend while going out with Aidan. And Aidan earlier on fights demons come back from his past. Meanwhile Sally’s best friend, Bridget, falls in love with her fiancé. Among all the changes the ABH has introduced, I like this the most. Changing an anonymous bitchy and tacky character for someone Sally knew and loved gives the story a different pace. Sally’s murderous fiancée, Danny, is also more credible than the British counterpart. The way Sally, as a ghost, interacts with the rest of the characters is also more credible because regulated by precise rules and limitations.

I was surprised to see that in the  ABH sixth episode the vampire-porn dvd makes its apparition. And again, I thought that it was well done. Instead of having a naked dude humping the air and being killed by an invisible vampire, the scene in the ABH is shot showing the vampire, Rebecca, and making her the protagonist of the shooting. Elegant solution for a problematic scene.

On the other hand, BBH is funnier. When George tries his worst to score a date with Nina, she answers back showing her attitude. I immediately liked her sassiness. When Josh does exactly the same thing with Nora, even the pattern of the dialogue was similar, she reacts threatening him to call HR for harassment. Not cool.

Looking forward to the next ABH to see what the writers have done with the dvd’s plot.

Being Human Getting Personal

The Iron King

Following a bread crumb trail that started reading the Vampire Book Club’s blog I found The Iron King, by Julie Kagawa. Rocambolesque, (as in fantastic, incredible, and fabulous) is the adjective that comes to my mind to describe The Iron King. First in the Iron Fey series, this novel is a joyous ride between the human world and Faeryland.  The protagonist, Meghan Chase, is a regular teenager who has been living at the fringe of society, misunderstood at home, ridiculed at school, with only one friend to keep her company. Meghan is resigned to her fate, when she discovers that Robbie, her only friend, is Robin Goodfellow, aka Puck, and that she is not in fact a human teenager at all. When Ethan, Meghan’s four year old brother, is kidnapped and exchanged with a changeling, she leaves everything behind to save him. In her quest to find Ethan, Meghan meets her real father Oberon, king of the Summer Court, and falls in love with Ash, a young prince who happened to be the Winter Court queen Mab‘s son. I will not try to summarize the plot, because it would be like writing the synopsis for the second Transformer’s movie, but in a good way. Suffice to say that the Summer Court  and the Winter Court are not in the best of terms, and that Meghan and Ash are not supposed to fraternize. The plot thickens when a third contender for the supremacy of Faeryland appears. The Iron King, whose realm made of metal threatens to suffocate Faeryland, wants Meghan more than anybody else.  Ash promises Meghan to help her find and free Ethan from the Iron King’s clutches, if in return she willingly follows him to the Winter Court. Finding Ethan takes some time.

I particularly liked Ash, he is a fascinating character and he is dark and moody without becoming annoying. Meghan is a strong heroine with a pure heart. The secondary characters are equally entertaining. Puck is the perfect bodyguard, loyal and funny, and probably also in love with Meghan. Grimalkin, a cait sith, is the unexpected sidekick who comes back to fix problems when he is needed the most. I will definitely read the following chapter in the story, The Iron Daughter, because I want to know what happens between Meghan and Ash. I also enjoyed the way the author played around with the characters from Shakespeare’s plays and Celtic mythology, creating a modern fairytale.

Having finished the first book, I only have one request/hope: Mrs. Kagawa, please bring back Beau, the German shepherd, if you haven’t already. I went through the whole novel waiting for the dog to make an apparition, even ghost-like would have been fine, but it didn’t happen. Keeping my fingers crossed for the time being.

The Iron King