Bloodlines by Richelle Mead
Series: Bloodlines #1
Published by Razorbill on August 23rd, 2011
Shelve It: Goodreads
Sydney is an alchemist, one of a group of humans who dabble in magic and serve to bridge the worlds of human and vampires. They protect vampire secrets – and human lives.
When Sydney is torn from her bed in the middle of the night, at first she thinks she’s still being punished for her complicated alliance with dhampir Rose Hathaway. But what unfolds is far worse. Jill Dragomir – the sister of Moroi Queen Lissa Dragomir – is in mortal danger, and the Moroi must send her into hiding. To avoid a civil war, Sydney is called upon to act as Jill’s guardian and protector, posing as her roommate in the last place anyone would think to look for vampire royalty – a human boarding school in Palm Springs, California.
But instead of finding safety at Amberwood Prep, Sydney discovers the drama is only just beginning…
As a huge fan of the Vampire Academy series, I had high hopes for Bloodlines. I was definitely apprehensive about the narrator switch, but I was also excited to see things from a different perspective. I shouldn’t review Bloodlines by comparing it to Vampire Academy, but considering we see so many of the same characters, you’ll have to excuse my use of comparisons.
Narrating Bloodlines is Sydney Sage, an alchemist, who has been educated since early childhood on how humans must be protected from vampires, and that vampires are an unnatural species. I found it hard to relate with Sydney’s fears of Moroi vampires, as in the Vampire Academy series they are portrayed as normal people, who just happen to need blood to survive. It was actually a little uncomfortable to read some sections, specifically those where Keith talks about how wrong it would be for Sydney to feel compassion for any Moroi, or when Sydney reacts to Jill/Adrian’s use of magic, as it felt quite racist. I kept trying to put myself in Sydney’s shoes, but I just couldn’t empathize with her fear or beliefs about the Moroi.
Putting aside my uncomfortableness with Sydney’s discriminatory beliefs, I was also disappointed by the plot. It seemed promising – Jill is being attacked by rogue Moroi who would like to see her killed so Lissa is unable to keep the throne – but then, not much happens. We go through Jill’s trials and tribulations of being an outcast in a new school (all from Sydney’s perspective, of course), and we see Sydney investigate some suspicious talent/mind-altering tattoos reminiscent of her Alchemist lily tattoo, but its mostly just dialogue (which I have to say, is very well written) and situations being blown out of proportion to create conflict. Its not until the last 100 pages or so before we see any action, which is a huge let down after the non-stop action of the Vampire Academy series.
I also didn’t understand how Sydney’s actions could so completely go against her thoughts. She was constantly trying to prove that she was not a “vamp lover” in order to regain some trust from the Alchemists after her involvement in harbouring a dhampir fugitive, yet she kept going out of her way to make life easier for the Moroi around her. As someone who was supposed to believe that Moroi are an abomination, she should not have been so concerned about why they were so miserable. Her job was to ensure Jill was safe – not that she was happy. I wish there had been more internal struggle with her decisions to help make life easier for Jill (and Adrian for that matter) to correspond with her disgust we sometimes bore witness to (like during Jill’s first feeding). It was hard to empathize and understand her dislike of Moroi when she was bending over backwards to make sure they weren’t unhappy or uncomfortable.
Now having said all that, I want to make it clear that Bloodlines is written in true Richelle Mead fashion – its a page-turner that won’t let you put it down; I flew through this book because I needed to know how it all came together. Just because it wasn’t the action-packed thrill-race I was expecting does not mean that it was not well written. Once I was able to accept that Sydney was not Rose, and that I shouldn’t expect a huge blow-out fight (or for her to stand up for herself) when faced with confrontation, I was able to enjoy most of what Bloodlines had to offer (although I did miss the romance that’s so much a part of Vampire Academy). Unfortunately my excitement for the next instalment has nothing to do with any of the characters we saw throughout Bloodlines, but for the return of one of my favourites from Vampire Academy.
All in all, Bloodlines is a good read – but Vampire Academy fans may be disappointed.
Disclaimer: I originally posted this review in October of 2011 on Radiant Shadows. In an effort to have a comprehensive list of all of my reviews on Pretty Little Reader, I will occasionally be reposting older reviews, usually before I review/post something about its sequel.