The Golden Lily by Richelle Mead
Series: Bloodlines #2
Published by Razorbill on June 12th, 2012
Shelve It: Goodreads
Sydney Sage is an Alchemist, one of a group of humans who dabble in magic and serve to bridge the worlds of humans and vampires. They protect vampire secrets—and human lives.
Sydney would love to go to college, but instead, she’s been sent into hiding at a posh boarding school in Palm Springs, California–tasked with protecting Moroi princess Jill Dragomir from assassins who want to throw the Moroi court into civil war. Formerly in disgrace, Sydney is now praised for her loyalty and obedience, and held up as the model of an exemplary Alchemist.
But the closer she grows to Jill, Eddie, and especially Adrian, the more she finds herself questioning her age–old Alchemist beliefs, her idea of family, and the sense of what it means to truly belong. Her world becomes even more complicated when magical experiments show Sydney may hold the key to prevent becoming Strigoi—the fiercest vampires, the ones who don’t die. But it’s her fear of being just that—special, magical, powerful—that scares her more than anything. Equally daunting is her new romance with Brayden, a cute, brainy guy who seems to be her match in every way. Yet, as perfect as he seems, Sydney finds herself being drawn to someone else—someone forbidden to her.
When a shocking secret threatens to tear the vampire world apart, Sydney’s loyalties are suddenly tested more than ever before. She wonders how she’s supposed to strike a balance between the principles and dogmas she’s been taught, and what her instincts are now telling her.
Should she trust the Alchemists—or her heart?
While I enjoyed The Golden Lily, after the dramatic conclusion to Bloodlines, I was expecting more plot tension, danger and immediacy in The Golden Lily. With Sydney’s obliviousness to the multitude of social cues surrounding her, little information about the conflict back at Court and a human villain, I was disappointed to find I didn’t receive any of those things.
I think my main reason for not loving The Golden Lily is due to its inaction. There are moments of true brilliance, where the characters show the sparks of life that I loved in the Vampire Academy series (many of the interactions between Sydney and Adrian, for example), but those moments are fleeting and can’t make up for the overall monotonous tone that the rest of the book embodies. I was hoping that we would see more of the conflict happening at Court, perhaps even see them travel back to Court after the dangers faced in Bloodlines, as this safe Californian setting just isn’t exciting enough to fully capture my attention.
It also doesn’t help that I found many of Sydney and Adrian’s interactions, though witty and well-written, weren’t necessary to move the plot forward; their sole function was to develop their relationship. Don’t get me wrong, I loved their sexual-tension filled moments together.
Something clenched in my chest, and for a moment, the whole world narrowed down to the green of his eyes.
But romantic tension alone is not enough to propel a story along, especially at the expense of suspense, mystery and danger within the plot. I grew tired of Sydney’s complete obliviousness to Adrian’s feelings, especially since there was nothing overly-exciting plot-related happening to take my attention off of her naiveté.
Actually, I grew quite tired of Sydney. I really enjoyed her character in Blood Promise, and her character growth from Bloodlines to The Golden Lily has been substantial, but her narrative is without animation, without life. Her emotions are always kept in check by her rationale, and if something can’t be explained with facts, she wants nothing to do with it. I just find that kind of cold logic hard to relate to. The only scenes in which she truly came to life were those with Adrian.
But when my life’s on the line – when others’ lives are on the line – what good am I? I can’t fight. I was completely helpless out there. Just like when the Strigoi attacked us and Lee. I can only stand and watch and wait for people like Rose and Dimitri to save me. I…I’m like a storybook damsel in distress.
With him, she was able to let down her defences and let her emotions leak into her rational. But since their moments together did little to drive the plot forward, I couldn’t even fully enjoy them. Her continued self-esteem issues, especially when comparing herself to Moroi, again bothered me as she was constantly holding herself up to an impossible standard. And her lack of interaction with the other characters – Eddie, Angeline, Jill, Trey, Dimitri – was disappointing. They all seemed to be a means to an end, rather then tangible characters of value.
As always though, Richelle Mead has delivered a page-turner. I just hope The Indigo Spell is the end to this series, as I’m not sure I’m invested enough in these characters to continue with their journey for much longer.
Disclaimer: I originally posted this review in June of 2012 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.