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.