Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Book Review: Bloodlines by Richelle Mead

Bloodlines 
(Bloodlines #1)
by Richelle Mead
Razor Bill/ August 23, 2011
421 pages
Source: Purchased


Synopsis
    "I wasn't free of my past, not yet."
Sydney's blood is special. That's because she's an alchemist-- one of the 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. 
    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 roomate in the unlikeliest of places: a human boarding school in Palm Springs, California. The last thing Sydney wants is to be accused of sympathizing with vampires. And now she has to live with one.
     The Moroi court believe that Jill and Sydney will be safe at Amberwood Prep, but threats, distractions, and forbidden romance lurk both outside-- and within-- the school grounds. Now that they're in hiding, the drama is only just beginning. (Taken from the book's jacket flap.)


Opening Line
"I couldn't breathe."


My Take On It
    Last year I was introduced to the amazing world of Richelle Mead's Vampire Academy. I was informed that I had to read it because it was "vampire's done right." How could I refuse? Vampires are my first love in the world of paranormal reads. I read book one, and after being introduced to Rose, Lissa and Dimitri, I was completely and utterly hooked. I bought the remaining books and read them one right after another, finishing them up in late May. So, like all V.A. fangirls and fanboys, I was thrilled to hear that a spin off series was in the works and I promptly pre-ordered Bloodlines. It released in August but, for some inexplicable reason, it sat unopened on my bookshelf for months. Tired of feeling like a loser, and knowing that the second book would be released before I knew it, I picked it up and finished it over the course of a couple of days. And the verdict: I'm over the moon to be back in Richelle Mead's vampire world!
    So, like most people, I think the first thing I noticed in reading was just how different our new protagonist Sydney is when compared to her predecessor, Rose. All the things I loved about Rose, her confidence, her sense of humor, her street smarts, her fearlessness, are all conspicuously absent in the character of Sydney Sage. But that's not to say that she isn't a compelling character, because she is. In fact, as the story progresses, I began to really get into Sydney, because the girl is a walking contradiction. She's logical to the point of almost seeming robotic, but at the same time she has a ton of conflicting emotions coursing through her. As an Alchemist, she is trained to be fearless in the face of any danger involving vampires, but Sydney harbors many fears and not just of the vampiric sort. She is obedient and has been trained to respect her superiors and follow orders, yet she will abandon the rules and break them openly when she feels it is just. She's super intelligent, yet is sorely lacking in social skills. And while she often appears confident in her actions, she is in truth painfully self conscious regarding her personal appearance and is constantly second guessing her own decisions. In short, she has so much wonderful potential as a main character, and I am looking forward to seeing her development in this series.
     In addition to Sydney, several other characters from the V.A. series have returned in Bloodlines:  Jill Dragomir, Lissa's half sister; Eddie Castile, the dhampir assigned to guard her; and, of course, Adrian Ivashkov ( more on him later.) We also get cameo appearances by Rose and her father, the vampire gangster Abe Mazur (who I just LOVE:) There are new characters introduced as well, including a despicable Alchemist named Keith, a doddering old vampire named Clarence and his college age son Lee, as well as some fellow students and teachers. 
     The complex vampire world and it's subsequent hierarchy created by Mead is briefly reiterated, but if you have not read any of the V.A. books, it might be a little confusing to new readers. Many of the issues brought up in the earlier series continue in Bloodlines such as the study of Spirit magic and its ramifications to both Moroi and Strigoi. Also present are all the issues between the different levels of society in the vampire world and the role Alchemists and humans play in it. And make no mistake, Mead has a lot going on with this book in terms of socially relevant issues. From the start, it is clear how the Alchemists regard vampires and vice versa. Elements like prejudice, tolerance and ignorance are obvious and it's equally obvious that those matters are going to play key roles in upcoming books. But there are also more subtle things in play too. Gender equality and especially body image issues are evident as well.
    Ok, so now that all all the deep stuff has been laid out on the table, let's get down to business: romance. Or lack there of as would be the case. There is a little bit of romantic stuff going on with Jill, and in fairness I can see a few of those plot lines becoming more pronounced and interesting in future books. But what about Sydney? And what about Adrian? So let's start with Sydney. She's logical girl and she's all about her career. You know, no time for a personal life. But there are hints that Sydney is realizing she may be missing out on on some pretty amazing life experiences if she continues to shove her personal life to the side. 
     And then there is brokenhearted Adrian. Let's start with an admission. I was never all that into Adrian in the V.A. books. I liked him as a character. I think he's funny, and I think he's endearing with all his flaws, but as a love interest for Rose? No. How could he be, when we have DIMITRI BELIKOV. Obviously, I was in the Dimitri camp. But now that he and Rose seem to be living their happily ever after, I am able to look at Adrian in a whole new light. And, I like what I see. My favorite thing about Adrian has to be his witty and cynical sense of humor.Yeah, he's sexy and flirty, but it's his humorous side that I find most appealing. Like the scene where he is trying to divert a tattoo artist's attention elsewhere so that his shop can be secretly searched:


"Can you draw a skeleton riding a motorcycle with flames coming out of it? And I want a pirate hat on the skeleton. And a parrot on his shoulder. A skeleton parrot. Or maybe a ninja skeleton parrot? No, that would be overkill. But it'd be cool if the biker skeleton could be shooting some ninja throwing stars. That are on fire."


Overkill indeed:) And anyone who makes reference to 21 Jump Street is most definitely a winner in my book:) And yes, I know he got shafted pretty badly in the last series, so it would be great to see him meet the one this time around. Will it happen? Hmmm...time will tell. So in the romance department, Bloodlines is a little lacking. But that's no deal breaker for me because hey, we know that Richelle Mead is more than capable of writing steamy, swoonworthy, toe tingling romance. So I'm cutting her some slack, because this is the first book and it is laying the groundwork for future installments. To prove my point, I've included one such moment from Bloodlines that occurs near the end. I'm not going to set the scene up, I'm going to be vague so that I don't spoil:


Something in the way he was looking at me froze me up and made my stomach do flip-flops, though I couldn't quite articulate why. I only knew that he looked at me as though he was seeing me for the very first time...and it scared me. I'd been able to brush off his easy, joking compliments, but this intensity was something different altogether, something I didn't know how to react to. When he looked at me like this, I believed that he thought my eyes were beautiful--that I was beautiful. It was more than I was ready for. Flustered, I took a step backward, out of the sunlight, needing to get  away from the energy of his gaze.


 See? It's coming friends. We just have to be patient:) 


     And, if that excerpt above wasn't enough to grab my attention and persuade me to continue on, then the last sentence of the book, just four short words, most definitely sealed the deal. My breath caught and I shouted "Heck Yeah!!" (or something to that effect.) Sorry, but you will just have to read it for yourself to find out what I am talking about:)


If Bloodlines is any indication, it looks like fans of V.A. are in for another exciting ride! Book two (of a six book series,) The Golden Lily, releases June 19 and yes, I will be reading it!


4/5 Stars 


Cover Thoughts:
So it's clearly Sydney (what with the lily tattoo) and Adrian, I guess? The cover is much in the same vein as the V.A. novels so it's sort of nostalgic and thereby cool in my opinion:)


Check out Richelle Mead's website here.


Read what other reviewer's had to say about Bloodlines:
YA Reads
Girls in the Stacks
Daisy Chain Book Reviews
Anna Reads

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The Fault in Our Stars by John Green (ends 2/24)


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10 comments:

  1. Glad to hear it was good!! I personally have a problem switching from one character's perspective to another, I don't know why. Great review! :)

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    1. Thanks! Bloodlines is written from Sydney's POV, but I have heard there is a "lost" chapter written from Adrian's perspective online:)

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  2. I've only read the first VA book (I know, that's horrible!) and keep thinking I need to read the rest but don't really feel I can buy them but hate putting things on hold at the library cause I don't really have time to squeeze in library books... so the series keeps getting put off. Hopefully I can get a handle on what I have to read around here and then can feel comfortable continuing the series with books from the library.
    I'm glad you really enjoyed this one! And I totally know what you mean. It's horrible how we can be SO excited about a book but then we still don't get it read until months (or years) later. I have MANY like that that I REALLY want to read!

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    1. The first VA book is kind of like Bloodlines, a good book to be sure, but the following VA books were just fabulous and got better with each installment. I actually don't have a copy of VA Bks #1 and #2 anymore, but I do have 3-7,if you would like to borrow them one day and knock them all out in one sitting:)That's what I did!

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  3. I liked this one, but I didn't love it. I hope it'll grow on my just like the VA novels did (the first of those was just OK for me too, but then I got addicted, really addicted!!) It's going to take a while for Sydney to grow on me (I love Rose!) and I totally fangirl for Adrian. Love that guy. I always say D for Rose, and A for me! :)

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    1. I feel the same, like I said, I think this one is just setting everything up for the next one(s) And yes, Rose is a hard act to follow, but I think Richelle Mead is going to surprise us all:)

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  4. I need to read this so bad. AND Vampire Academy. Bah. I'm SO BEHIND.

    I laughed out loud at this ---> "Tired of feeling like a loser..."

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    1. Don't feel bad! V.A. is seven books long, that's quite an endeavor! It takes commitment! And the Bloodlines series is, I believe, going to be 6 books long. Richelle Mead does nothing lightly!:) Thanks for stopping by and commenting!

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  5. Thanks for commenting on my blog. i thought I might head over here and read some of your reviews and they are great! I definitely concur with everything you just said about 'Bloodlines' and I can't wait for 'The Golden Lily'

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  6. I thought reading books like this will be boring or something, but when I started reading and fall in the characters, I realized that I’m starting not just to like it but I fell in love with the book.

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