vaVampire Academy by Richelle Mead
Release Date: August 16, 2007
Publisher: Razorbill
Source: Library
Rating: starstarstarstarstar
Buy It: Amazon | IndieBound

St. Vladimir’s Academy isn’t just any boarding school—it’s a hidden place where vampires are educated in the ways of magic and half-human teens train to protect them. Rose Hathaway is a Dhampir, a bodyguard for her best friend Lissa, a Moroi Vampire Princess. They’ve been on the run, but now they’re being dragged back to St. Vladimir’s—the very place where they’re most in danger…

Rose and Lissa become enmeshed in forbidden romance, the Academy’s ruthless social scene, and unspeakable nighttime rituals. But they must be careful lest the Strigoi—the world’s fiercest and most dangerous vampires—make Lissa one of them forever.

Ugh, what do I even say?  I bow down to the gods that are Ashley, Sarah and Salma, because I did not want to read this series.  I read Mead’s first book from her urban fantasy series and really hated it, so I put off reading VA for as long as possible.  Why, you guys?  Why did I do this?  I shot through VA in like six hours, Frost Bite in twelve, Shadow Kiss in ten.  This is like the best vampire series I have ever read in my entire life.  Do you even realize how many vampire series I’ve read?  That is seriously saying something.  Where do I even start?

Rose Hathaway, will you marry me?  Rose is my perfect mix of sassy, badass, and contemplative.  I love badass heroines with chips on their shoulders, and Rose fits the bill to a tee.  Rose might even beat Janie from Wake as my favorite badass heroine of all time.  She’s fully committed to protecting Lissa, but she’s also her own person.  I really liked the politics of it–are dhampirs less than Moroi?  They grow up thinking of their Moroi above themselves, but is that really freedom?  I have only read the first three books, so I don’t know if that question ever gets answered, but it stuck with me.

I knew Dimitri was going to be the love interest without asking or knowing beforehand, so let’s move onto Christian, who Ilove.  I don’t really care about Lissa, honestly, because her character seems so flat.  I mean, we’re told she’s powerful and beautiful, but I didn’t really see any indication of either in this novel.  Okay, I guess Lissa is somewhat powerful in this book, but she’s more just depressed and leaking power she can’t control.  I don’t know how powerful she is.  ANYWAY.  Christian.  He’s awesome.  I like that Rose and Lissa befriend him even while being nervous about his parents’ Strigoi background.  He’s sarcastic and cynical, but he’s also really smart.  Rose is an asshole about him for the majority of this book, but I always liked him.

Okay.  Dimitri Belikov.  I’m not sure I can be coherent about him, but I will try.  He is lovely, even though I am slightly squicked by a twenty-four year old making out with a sixteen-year-old.  I mean, I got over it, but it still freaks me out a little.  I have to remind myself that this is urban fantasy, that Rose and Dimitri have all kinds of things to talk about that we, in our world, would not, et cetera.  Okay, anyway, I sort of imagine Dimitri as Ian Somerhalder and I’m not sure why, but it so works for me.  Rose and Dimitri have a connection and the unresolved sexual tension is intense.  And when the “spelled rose necklace” thing went down, I squealed.

This is quite the book.  Mead has done light years better with this series than with her Dark Swan series, and there is no way I won’t be finishing.  The world is accessible enough for us to recognize it, but it is clearly not our world.  As I went back and skimmed parts of this book, I noticed foreshadowing of things that aren’t answered until book three.  That’s the mark 0f a good author.  I was engaged the entire time I had this book, and I returned it to the library the same day I got it (much to the librarian’s amusement).  Read it.  It’s worth it.  It’s better than worth it, it’s almost perfect.