When I started getting into vampires it was back in the beginning of the 90s, where vampires were monsters. Literally, I wrote a story when I was 5 (I think, I was in the 4 – 6 range) about hunting vampires (you’re damn straight my mom got a phone call from worried teachers). From there, in my high school days, I got a little more into vampires outside of “standard monsters” when I started reading Anne Rice. The next trend in vampires was vampires in High School, and that’s about when I noped the f*ck out.
Unfortunately, I can never stay away from my favorite monsters turned romantic interest and will sometimes pick up a high school vampires story. One such series, is Vampire Academy. I saw it when I worked at the book store, but after reading Twilight (only half of my own free will, the other half I had nothing else to read and someone I worked with made me borrow them) and the house of Night (only the first book, I couldn’t kill enough brain cells to read the second one) I no longer wanted to dally in high school vampires.
Fast forward to today when …I’m running out of things to read and a friend made me borrow them. Yeah, there’s a trend. But, I will say this right now …this book is not half bad. I wasn’t sure what to expect since it is a super popular series, but genuinely enjoying it was not what I was prepared for.
Mead builds a world where it’s not just your typical Vampires vs Humans thing. There are different branches of Vampires (and a whole biological thing about how they breed – instead of just “vampires go wheee”); the Moroi which are your standard “Vampires”, and the Dhampir – half-vampires. Now, some hardcores like myself might go “you can’t have HALF a dead thing!” but that is where Mead changes the narrative. Moroi and Dhampir are LIVING Vampires. They are a species instead of a disease. But the third type of vampire is more like the kind we are familiar with. Known as Strigoi, they are “dead” vampires …and can be created several ways. When a Moroi kills a person and takes their blood, or if someone is bitten and turned. Moroi and Dhampir can both become Strigoi. They are faster, stronger, and have a natural drive to hunt and kill Moroi. Which is the basis for their entire society. Dhampir are important to the Moroi because they are the ones who become Guardians. They are fast and strong, and with their human genes don’t have a lot of the downfalls (like light sensitivity) of Moroi. Moroi are also willowy and small, not always great for defending against larger predators. But they have a symbiotic relationship because Dhampir are created from Moroi, and the Moroi need Dhampir to survive the Strigoi.
This leads to the ACADEMY part of it. Moroi and Dhampir children are sent to the same schools, to learn together, but Dhampir children obviously have special classes where they learn to be Guardians. The story follows Rose and Lissa, Dhampir and Moroi. In the beginning the girls are out on their own, pretending to be high school students living on campus. Up until a pack of Guardians finds them and brings them back. The girls had escaped the Academy, which was nearly impossible, and had hidden themselves away. But Rose refused to tell why she had spirited the vampire princess away.
It is slowly revealed that the girls have a special connection, one deeper than Guardian and Royal. That connection is what spurred Rose to take Lissa away – and something a little deeper. Rose can feel Lissa’s emotions, and when she concentrates, she can slip into Lissa’s head and see everything she sees. Lissa is also special in her own way – Moroi can use magic, but they are strictly elemental magic users. Except Lissa. Everyone thinks she is just a late bloomer, having not found an elemental affinity, but instead, she can heal and she can use her compulsion on other vampires.
The story revolves around Rose trying to find out what is happening between her and Lissa, since there are only a few cases of either ability in their entire history (one being St. Vladimir himself), and trying to learn her place as a Guardian.
Like I said, I actually enjoyed this book. It was still 90% high school vampire fluff but once you look past the tropes and stereotypes, it was a fun quick read!