Thursday, October 13, 2011

Review: Bloodlines (Spin-off from Vampire Academy)

I wasn't free of my past, not yet.

Sydney's blood is special. That's because she's 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. But the last encounter Sydney had with vampires got her in deep trouble with the other alchemists. And now with her allegiances in question, her future is on the line."

Bloodlines, by Richelle Mead, is the seventh novel in the Vampire Academy series. This is the first book where Rose Hathaway is not the protagonist; it focuses on the other main cast characters (in this case, Sydney ). The story picks up from the previous novel, Last Sacrifice, where Sydney is ordered out of bed in the middle of the night to face Alchemist leaders. At first, she thinks she's still being punished for her complicated alliance and friendship with dhampir, Rose Hathaway. The unexpected occurs instead. Jill Dragomir, the sister of Moroi Queen Vasilisa (Lissa) Dragomir, is in mortal danger and must be sent into hiding far from the Moroi palace compound.

To avoid a civil war, the Alchemists summon Sydney to act as Jill's guardian and sister, posing as a roommate at Amberwood Prep Academy, in Southern California. There, she discovers students wearing strange metallic tattoos similar to the Alchemists. Sydney investigates to find the culprit behind the illegal business when someone nearly loses their life. Meanwhile, the last thing Sydney wants to be accused of is sympathizing with Moroi and dhampirs. Someone is desperate enough to blame and institutionalize her in the dreadful re-education centers if she doesn't watch her back. Before she can balance her loyalties, a sign of threats, distractions and forbidden romance lurk both outside--and within--the school grounds.

First, I was very reluctant to read this novel because I didn't think this series could continue without Rose Hathaway. I read the first six books because I loved her personality and fighting spirit (i.e., she stood for justice and never gave up on her true love and freedom). But Mead amazes me again with the character of Sydney. Although she is naive in social rel and has a tendency to over-think situations, Sydney is highly intelligent in her studies and very conscious of other people's feelings. Her friendship with Adrian Ivashkov also deepens as he tries to move on with his life beyond Rose. Readers also learn another secret about Sydney's abilities as an Alchemist.

I cannot wait to read more about this fascinating group of supernatural teens. The novel covers typical teenage issues (i.e., crushes, peer pressure, self-confidence). Rose also makes a brief cameo appearance, but Sydney is the star of the novel (and she truly shines!). I am speculating that the next novel will continue to focus on Sydney and Adrian, but a new main character will certainly excite many female fans. Check out the recent interviews with Richelle Mead at Goodreads and MTV (warning: may contain spoilers).

UPDATE (11/18/2011): Richelle Mead will write a six-novel Bloodlines series that takes place in the same universe as the Vampire Academy novels. In future references, I will refer to the next five novels as part of the Bloodlines series.

Stay tuned for the next book in the Bloodlines Series, The Golden Lily

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