Series Reviews

Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead

I recently finished reading the last instalment of  Vampire Academy, a series aimed at the Young Adult market. It is based around a Dhampir named Rose Hathaway.

Vampire Academy (Vampire Academy, Book 1)Frostbite (Vampire Academy, Book 2)Shadow Kiss (Vampire Academy, Book 3)Blood Promise (Vampire Academy, Book 4)Spirit Bound (Vampire Academy, Book 5)  Last Sacrifice (Vampire Academy, Book 6)

Mead has created an intriguing world where there are 'good' vampires- The Moroi and 'bad' vampires- The Strigoi.  A lot of this is based around actual Romanian mythology.

The story is told by Rose Hathaway. Rose is a Dhampir, which means she is half  Moroi vampire, half human. Dhampirs are stronger and faster than Moroi who are unusually delicate for vampires. Dhampirs also do not drink blood. The Dhampirs are supposed to protect the Moroi from their mortal enemy the Strigoi.

Strigoi are essentially the traditional vampire. They are created whereas Moroi are born. Moroi can become Strigoi by draining and killing somebody. Moroi drink blood but only in small amounts from consenting humans known as 'feeders'.

Rose's best friend Lissa is a Moroi princess  and Rose sees it as her duty to protect her. Once they finish school Rose hopes to become Lissa's guardian- a trained Dhampir assigned to protect a member of Moroi royalty. 

Dhampirs are trained as guardians because they are faster and stronger than Moroi and can protect them from Strigoi. Guardians are taught that only Moroi life matters and they protect them with their own lives.

Lissa and Rose are especially close, and as the series progresses we start to understand why. There is remarkable continuity throughout the whole series with each book developing the story a little more, keeping with the same themes and building on them.

Rose is a strong heroine- literally physically strong, and her character really develops throughout the series. I have to admit that I would have liked to have seen more development in 'Last Sacrifice' and I felt that she didn't really grow as a person in this book.

Roses relationship with her tutor Dimitri develops slowly over the first couple of books and I was glad I started this series when the first 5 books were already out. I think I would have been very frustrated if I had to wait months for the next installment!

My absolute favourite book of the series was the 4th- Blood Promise. I think I enjoyed it most as it was where we saw Rose grow the most as a person, and it had a real sadness to the whole story.

I have seen comparisons made to Twilight, but I think that they are very different. Yes there are vampires, yes there's a love story    but the worlds they are set in and the characters are really so very different. Fragile, worrying Bella is a totally different heroine than rebellious Rose with her  killer left hook. 

The only real similarity (vampires aside) for me is that Vampire Academy is another series that I just couldn't put down. 

Women of The Otherworld Series by Kelley Armstrong

Bitten (Women of the Otherworld, Book 1)Stolen (Women of the Otherworld, Book 2)Dime Store Magic (Women of the Otherworld)Industrial Magic (Women of the Otherworld, Book 4)

There are 11 books so far in this series, with another due for release in 2011. So far I have read the first 4 and will update this review as I read more.

Four books in and I am hooked. I'm quite surprised by this as it took me 12 months to read Bitten, the first in the series. For me, it seemed to start quite slowly and I just couldn't get into the story or identify with Elena, the narrator. I got to page 50 and pretty much gave up. It was only when a friend and I were shopping that she pointed this series out and said how much she enjoyed it.

She convinced me to persevere with the book and I'm very glad I did. I think my initial reluctance was partly due to werewolves not really being my favourite supernatural being. I'm more a vampire or witch kind of person. 

Bitten is centered around Elena and her pack, and is completely a story about werewolves. Elena herself is the only female werewolf in existence.

Despite this, by halfway through the book I had warmed much more to Elena. Once it gets going the story is fast paced and keeps you interested. Clay, Elena's love interest is an interesting character and the two of them really bounce off each other.

The Pack are the elite of the werewolves, and any that are not pack members are 'mutts'. The Pack keeps an eye on Mutt activity and steps in if they are acting recklessly in a way that could draw attention to the existence of werewolves. Mutts are not allowed to settle in one area-only Pack wolves and Elena's job is to keep track of all the Mutts that are roaming the world. When a few start to cause problems on the Pack's own turf  a whole world of trouble ensues.

Bitten was a decent read, but had it been a standalone novel it wouldn't be one I would re read.

The rest of the series is a different matter. Starting with Stolen the 'Otherworld' really starts to develop and different types of beings are thrown into the mix. 

Stolen is still narrated by Elena, but in this story the Weres discover and team up with other supernatural beings to tackle a common enemy. Someone is kidnapping supernaturals, and Elena is a target. 

I loved this book because it introduces all the other supernaturals, and gives just a little information on them all. We also meet the witches - Paige who narrates the next two books, and Savannah who becomes another key player.

Dime Store Magic and Industrial Magic center around the witches and also introduce and develop the world of sorcerers and necromancers. Paige rescued Savannah, a powerful teenage witch from the compound. Savannah's mother Eve was killed in the compound and Paige takes on the task of raising her. Unfortunately she didn't count on Savannahs estranged father- a powerful Sorcerer wanting her back.

All hell breaks loose in Dime Store Magic as Paige tries to keep Savannah safe and away from her father. She finds a surprising ally and love interest in the form of a young sorcerer, Lucas Cortez.

Industrial Magic sees Paige, Lucas and Savannah helping Lucas' father who just happens to be head of a large Cabal- a supernatural mafia headed by sorcerers. Savannah's mother Eve makes a brief appearance from the afterlife.

I love that this series has different narrators, and that the other characters still pop up throughout. It was interesting to see Elena through Paige's eyes after being in Elenas head for the first two books. I can't wait to read the next book, Haunted which is narrated by Eve in the Afterlife...........