Tuesday, 17 August 2010

Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead

Vampire Academy is the first book in the Vampire Academy series by Richelle Mead.

Summery: Rose Hathaway is a dhampir, half human/half vampire and guardian of the Moroi, a race of peaceful and magical mortal vampires who can walk in the daylight, survive by feeding off willing blood donors, grow old and die. Lissa Dragomir is a Moroi princess, and Rose's best friend, the Moroi Rose hopes to be assigned guardian of after their graduation from St. Vladamir's Academy. There are another race of vampires out there, the Strigoi, who are undead, created, not born. They are evil, feeding on the innocent to survive. They hunt the Moroi, looking to kill or convert them. It is the Strigoi that the dhampirs guard the Moroi from.

Rose and Lissa have been on the run for 2 years when the book begins, hiding out from the Strigoi in the "real world", away from the supposed safety and structure of the Academy. Now they've been captured by the dhampir guardians and brought back to school. Gossip, peer pressure and forbidden romance are waiting for them upon their return. More than that, Lissa has secret powers that are growing and becoming difficult for her to control and for her and Rose to keep secret.

I enjoyed this book. It was interesting, entertaining and intriguing. The main character, Rose is unpredictable and kept me guessing as to what she'd do next. She is irrational and emotional, as you'd expect a 17 year old girl to be. I found this authentic and compelling. Rose very much reminded me of "Anita Blake", which is a good thing, since I really like Anita. Though Rose's decisions often frustrated me, I found myself really wanting hoping for her happiness and feeling her emotions with her.

Spoilers Ahead:
The one element of this book I didn't care so much for was the relationship Rose has with her best friend and Moroi charge, Lissa. It really almost bordered on lesbian. Rose is really jealous, in an unnatural way, of Lissa's relationship with Christian (speaking of Christian, why is it that Lissa saving Rose from death gave her a psychic bond, but Lissa saving Christian did not do the same with him?). She seems to love Lissa too much. The other thing I dislike about it is that Lissa is sort of a weak baby. She'd fragile and shy and soft spoken, and well, weak. Which is the opposite of Rose. I found myself wondering how much stronger Rose would be without Lissa weighing her down. On the plus side, Rose's relationship with her mentor, and possible love interest Dimitri was complex and intriguing.

Bottom Line: I'd give this book a B (for a YA novel). A great start to a series. Intriguing, really made me want to see what was going to happen next. An entertaining book for older teens, as well as adults.

Monday, 2 August 2010

Dead is the New Black by Marlene Perez

This is the first book in Marlene Perez's "Dead is..." series.

In my never ending quest to find another engaging teen series like "Twilight" I found this book while shopping at Target last year. I liked the bright colored cover, and the description on the back sounded a little different, and like it could be cute, so why not, right? Read on the see exactly "why not".

I'm not sure if Marlene Perez is herself a teenager, or if she simply is not giving them, as her intended audience, enough credit, but this book is written as if the audience is stupid. There are "hints" to upcoming plot points and by "hints" I mean all but saying the exact words. I will give you an example. We are introduced to a man who is described as having hair the color of a dog the main character once had and eyes like a wolf, but "oh, it's probably nothing", until a chapter or two later it's revealed that he's a werewolf. Big shock. The book is FULL of these "twists and turns" and no one is shocked.

In addition to being very predictable, the book also lacks description and detail. Characters minds are changed with little to no discussion and the plot is rushed along. Not that the plot is that deep anyway, but it would have been nice to understand why the main character went from not liking cheerleading to wanting to be the "best cheerleader ever" in one paragraph.

I know people complain about Stephenie Meyer being a "bad writer", but she's hardly the worst and they all can't be Tolkien or even Stephen King. Perez is in a different league then even Meyer.

Bottom line: Much like the Morganville Vampire Series this series is very "vanilla". It's not violent, or sexual. It would be approved for jr. high age teens. Adults would likely find the writing terrible and the plot lacking. I give the book a C-, not the worst I've read, but far from being good.