Mondays on the Margins: Book Review - Bloodlines by Richelle Mead

It's my day on the Canadian Bloodlines Blog Tour!

Bloodlines is a spinoff series by Vampire Academy author Richelle Mead. The protagonist, Sydney Sage, was introduced in one of the Vampire Diaries books, and her decision to go against her community and help the falsely accused Rose Hathaway escape from prison and clear her name follows her into the events of this book.

This universe contains humans, Dhampir - half human, half-vampire, protectors of the Moroi - mortal vampires from whom vampire royalty are drawn, and Strigoi - evil undead vampires. Sydney is a human and a member of a family of alchemists - people who use magic to protect humans from vampires, for whom alchemists harbour deep suspicion and dislike. In Bloodlines, she ends up smack in the middle of a mission to protect Jill Mastrano, who is the sister of the Moroi Queen. Because of a law which is in the process of being changed, if Jill is assassinated the Queen will be deposed. Sydney is therefore dispatched to a human boarding school in California to act as a bodyguard.

I've read some of the other reviews on this blog tour, and several people who had read the Vampire Academy books didn't like this one as much. I actually liked it a little more, since Rose Hathaway, the V.A. heroine, was such a natural at kicking ass and taking names, and also at breaking rules with barely a flicker of conscience, that she was admirable but not extremely sympathetic. Sydney was raised in an extremely strict and rule-bound society, and it's much more difficult for her to trust her gut and go against protocol, so I actually found her a more relatable protagonist. A few people also expressed distaste about her bigotry towards vampires, but this was one of the most compelling aspects of the book for me -- I found that the unreasoning fear and hatred of the alchemists toward vampires, bred into Sydney from birth, which dissipates upon acquaintance with actual vampires who have admirable qualities, had strong parallels with other types of racism, and was interesting to view in this context. Sydney is treated pretty harshly by her father and other family members, and her community seems much more focused on duty than affection, but this is also similar to many real-life communities.

It's a good story, with some good characters and a lot of humour. I'm less enamoured of Adrian Ivashkov, the bad boy in need of redeeming by a good woman, than others, but I do see his appeal. Keith, Sydney's fellow alchemist who clings to his evil-vampire stereotypes, is almost too over-the-top an asshole, but maybe not quite. There are some nice twists near the end that I totally didn't see coming. There's a nice subplot involving tattoos that ties in with the alchemists' facial tattoos. It's bloody good escapist fun, and a solid addition to the vampire YA genre - less overwrought and hand-wringy than Twilight (which I also loved, I won't lie). In my research for this review, I learned that Mead also writes an adult series about a succubus who works in a bookstore - this, I am thinking, MUST be checked out.

Esther's Ever After is the next stop on the tour tomorrow.

Bloodlines was released on August 23, 2011.

Lots of fun stuff about the series here.

Download the first chapter of Bloodlines here.

Disclosure: Penguin Canada sent me an Advance Reading Copy of Bloodlines. Opinions are my own, although if you ever DID want to buy my opinion, free books would definitely be the way, so.....


Julie said…
monday on the margins. you are brilliant my friend.

looks like a book i get sink my teeth in. (groan, that was pretty bad wasn't it)
I haven 't read the Vampire Academy books yet...which is shocking considering my love for all things vampire. They're on my list though. This sounds interesting. Another one for the list. It's a big list.
Nicole said…
Mondays on the Margins - I knew you would come up with something clever and alliterative!

I...probably will not read this book. Not because you didn't review it well or not because I don't think it's a good book, but I am just SO UNINTERESTED in vampires. There. I said it. Now excuse me while I duck all the rotten tomatoes being thrown at me! :)
Amber said…
Yeah, okay. But is there SEX? Because that is what vampires are all about for me, thank you True Blood. Vamporn.
Krista said…
Love the title of this post, or will it be series? Never read a vampire book, I just haven't seen the appeal. You do tempt me to at least take a peek...
Ms. G said…
I think my daughter may have read some of this series. I have loved vampire stories ever since I can remember but ever since I forced my way through the entire Anne Rice chronicles, which got old after about the 3rd book, I haven't picked up a single one. Now a succubus, that's a change. I might have to look into that.
Wrath Of Mom said…
Oooh. Mondays on the Margins -- excellent title! Now could you brainstorm one for me so I can do a homeschooling post every week?

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