Thursday, February 20, 2014

Book review: Vampire Academy 2-6 by Richelle Mead

The Vampire Academy series is as follows:

1. Vampire Academy
2. Frostbite
3. Shadow Kiss
4. Blood Promise
5. Spirit Bound
6. Last Sacrifice

These are pretty mediocre books. I read the whole series because I’m a completist (sadist?) and at this point I’d be hard-pressed to describe exactly where in the overall plot each book began and ended. The whole story goes something like this — and I’ll be as vague as I can to avoid specific spoilers — Rose is a half-vampire who has a Vampire Best Friend (VBF) and is training to be her best friend’s Guardian, as half-vampires are expected to do. Because she’s our protagonist, she’s exceptionally skilled at Guardian-type stuff, and she’s also extremely attractive/alluring to the men around her, be they human, vampire, or other halfies. She falls for another Guardian type, but theirs is a forbidden love. When they finally succumb to their desires and are prepared to go public, Something Bad happens. The next two books are spent trying to repair the Something Bad; meanwhile, VBF is dealing with the side effects of a particular gift she has called “spirit,” which is a rare and unusual specialty among vampires. It gives her the ability to perform a lot of mind-f*ck tricks on others but at the expense of her own sanity if not carefully monitored and managed. Also in the midst of the Something Bad, Rose develops a doomed-to-fail relationship with a Vampire Guy (VG) who loves her way more than she loves him because she’s still hung up on Something Bad Guy (SBG). Eventually the Something Bad is resolved, but the SBG has a lot of residual Feelings about it and continues to push Rose away, so Rose keeps leading on VG. Also, at some point, Rose is accused of high treason, so VBF and VG have to clear her name of that. Everyone lives happily ever after, except for VG, because duh.

If that sounds interesting to you and you don’t care about a pesky thing called “quality,” go for it. If you want to know more about the details of this “quality” thing, here are some:

Some of the most action-packed scenes throughout these books are, somehow, written kind of stiffly and blandly.

  • It is VERY easy to skim these books and not miss much.
  • If you look up a picture of “snarky” in the dictionary you’ll find Rose, which makes her fun to like at first. But over the course of the series, it becomes very tiresome to watch this naive, impetuous, and increasingly self-centered person continually get her way without much push-back from anyone.
  • I personally never cared that much for SBG, who didn’t strike me ever as having much of a personality beyond “silent but deadly Guardian.” The way that Mead describes Rose’s feelings toward him come off much more as kind of icky idol worship than love of another human (well, okay, half-human) being. Then again, sexy is in the eye of the beholder, so YMMV.
  • Another deus ex machina? 
    Not impressed.
  • VBF, aka Lissa, has the potential to be the most interesting character in the series. She’s given a pretty good amount of page time, but through this weird device (it has to do with spirit, her gift) that allows Rose to jump into her mind and experience what Lissa is experiencing. So though we follow Lissa, it’s always through Rose’s lens.
  • There are open endings, and then there are dangling threads on the unfinished hem of an unwieldy plot with too many characters. Guess which one this is. (Hint: Tim Gunn would not be impressed.)

Here’s the thing. I may sound like a twat calling out a YA vampire series for having too many deus ex machinas (for example,) but it’s one of a few elements in the series that contribute to an overall lack of suspense or tension as time goes on. Yes, the Something Bad happens, and it’s shocking when it does, but when it’s dragged out as long as it is, you know it’s because Mead is buying time until it’s resolved. Similarly, despite Guardianship being, allegedly, extremely dangerous — the body count is really high — Rose herself never really seems to be in that much danger. For instance, in the first book, she has an encounter with one of the bad vampires, who are super strong and fast and kill without thinking twice. After that moment, though, she bests seemingly every one she meets with what reads like very little effort. In a few months’ time, she goes from nearly being killed to being basically so much better than almost every other Guardian, most of whom have leagues more training and experience than her. It just reads as lazy.

Anyway, that’s all probably enough said about a series so fluffy that it will be forgotten by next week.


  1. lol - man, some of your book reviews are fucking hilarious (and best use of a GIF ever). I was really curious about this series. after reading this - I'm totally derailed from the idea of reading them. thank-you for saving me some time :) xo

    1. I mean, if you have some time to kill, there are worse books out there for sure. But even in the cheesy paranormal genre there are others that are legitimately way better and more fun. I think fun is the key -- the first book here started out kind of funny and irreverent. The later books lost the balance and relied too much on Rose's sarcasm, which just became irritating toward the end because she's not as clever as she (and the author) think she is.