Published: 25 August 2011 by Penguin
Format: Paperback, 432 pages
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Blood doesn't lie...
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...
Richelle Mead is a bestselling author of urban fantasy books for both adults and teens. A life-long reader, Richelle has always had a particular fascination with mythology and folklore. Her New York Times and USA Today bestselling YA series, Vampire Academy, contains Vampire Academy, Frostbite, Shadow Kiss, Blood Promise, and Spirit Bound. It follows Rose Hathaway, a 17-year old half-vampire (dhampir), training to be a bodyguard for the living vampires and finds her life complicated by the dangers that involves, as well as an illicit romance with one of her teachers. Bloodlines is the first book in a planned six book spin-off series from Vampire Academy.
The narrator of the story, Sydney, has been trained from a young age to become an Alchemist and missed out on a ‘normal’ childhood. She is socially awkward and frequently misses or misinterprets social cues, providing a good source of humour in the book. However, Sydney parrots the Alchemists’ beliefs about vampires even though she has seen that they are not all evil. She is also shallow, ego-centric and annoying at the start, but grows into a mature character throughout the book.
I found the Alchemists as a group to be some of the most repugnant people I have had the misfortune to read about. They are extremely narrow-minded and and make many comments which in any other context would be considered racist. Sydney even checks to see if a bottle of water is still sealed when a vampire hands it to her. If they were portrayed as evil, it would have been easier to handle, but it was difficult for me to read that vampires are unnatural and evil after reading six books narrated predominately by vampires. This aspect of the book really upset me and is really the only negative aspect I came across.
The best thing about a spin off series is that it allows for a deeper exploration of characters who only had a minor role in the original. Adrian is, as usual, a highly controversial character. You either love him or hate him – I found his self pity and depression pathetic, but when the depth of his feelings for Rose were revealed I found myself feeling very sorry for him. Although I am firmly on Team Dimitri, I hope there is a happy ending in the works for Adrian. Having loved Eddie from very early on in the VA series, I enjoyed seeing him grow as a character in this book. He certainly has a lot of potential.
While it is not necessary to have read the Vampire Academy series in order to understand this book, it will certainly help, and Bloodlines contains spoilers for the VA series. It is a good read, with interesting plot elements and great characters to keep you going. Bloodlines ends with a cheap ploy – the last sentence ensures that readers will hunger for the second book just to find out what happens. Mead should not have bothered – her longtime fans will continue to read the series because she has set up a great story in this book. I look forward to the sequel, The Golden Lily, which comes out June 19 2012.