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.....