‘I wish I’d never discovered this series of books’ is not the phrase with which I expected to open my 100th blog. Yes, 100th. I can scarcely believe it either. Where has all the time (and typing) gone?! Anyway, that’s the opening I’m going with, because I’ve discovered the all-consuming, sleep-depriving, social-event-cancel-worthy young adult fiction Vampire Academy series.
Please, don’t roll your eyes or click away. I was like that too until I cracked the spine of the first book (handily also called Vampire Academy, with the subsequent books taking different titles and having ‘a Vampire Academy novel’ as the subtitle). I figured that vampires had kind of been done to death (no pun intended) and, Twilight excepted, am also not overly interested in them. Some of you would say that, Twilight included, you’re not overly interested in them.
Sure, Stephenie Meyers’ series isn’t going to win any ‘best writing’ awards (unless you count some sort of dubious, razzy-style ones that pillory cliché-laden, guffaw-worthy clunkers), but there’s something incredibly compelling and addictive about the books.
I will actually admit that I didn’t think I’d find a vampire-themed series that I enjoyed as much as them. Then my friend Nat gifted me the first book in Richelle Mead’s series. I’ll even admit that that first book sat on my bookshelf for nigh on six months until a week ago when, following on my from I-need-a-break-from-human-trafficking-books blog, I plucked it from the pile of 50-ish to-be-read books. And I haven’t slept or stopped read since.
Oh. My. Goodness. Vampire Academy is kind of what Twilight would be if a talented writer composed them (or a good editor whipped out the clichés and clunkers that make us chortle). The Vampire Academy series diverges from the traditional vampires v humans storyline and focuses instead on three types of vampires: Moroi, who are magic-wielding, royal vampires who live off humans who willing give up their blood in exchange for the endorphins a vampire bite offers; Dhampirs, who are half vampire, half human, and whose job it is to protect the Moroi; and Strigoi, the bad-guy, un-dead vampires who are created through all manner of evil means and who think nothing of killing Moroi, Dhampirs, or humans.
The books’ protagonist is Dhampir Rosemarie Hathaway, who’s training to be a guardian for her best friend and Moroi princess, Lissa. They share a psychic bond (of course) and a nose for trouble, with the two ending up in various challenging situations—some of their own making, some of the bad guys’ who are after them.
Which is where spunk and Strigoi-slaying guardian-god Dimitri enters the fray, tasked with bringing Rose up to speed on her training and, in the process, into line. He’s an Edward-like character, but much less wooden and much more three-dimensional. He’s also a fair bit older and is technically Rose’s teacher, which complicates things, and Mead propels him, Rose, Lissa, and their cast of friends through some tightly-woven, well-executed plot twists. Oh, and did I mention that the books are refreshingly full of sassy one-liners (seriously, I wish I could come up with those) and don’t come over all, well, moral and subtly (some would argue unsubtly) Mormon?
I’m not normally a YA reader, nor a vampire-fiction one and consider myself no expert in this area. I will also concede that I’ve been so embarrassed at the veritably juvenile nature of the covers and titles that I’ve nearly done myself an injury trying to read them while concealing the cover from others’ eyes on public transport (Where’s an adult Harry Potter cover when you need one?).
Still, this series has been so extraordinary I not only haven’t slept, I’ve bought every single book in the series and am obsessively working my way through them at the rate of about one book every two days. This is wreaking havoc with my ability to sleep and function normally—if I owe you an email, I’m sorry, but you won’t be seeing one until I’ve made it all the way through. I also apologise to those of you who saw me sitting reading in my car until the last possible minute instead of coming in to socialise before playing netball—I can loan you the books after I’ve finished them if you’d like and then you’ll understand.
So, happy 100th blog (and thanks a bunch for reading all this time). I’m hopping back offline to finish the series and suspect I’ll only return once I’m mourning having done so. In fact, I have a sneaking suspicion that’ll be the not-so-happy theme of my 101st blog…