Book Review: Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead

Posted June 27, 2013 by Debby in Book Reviews

Book Review: Vampire Academy by Richelle MeadVampire Academy by Richelle Mead
Series: Vampire Academy #1
Published by Razorbill on August 16th, 2007
Genres: Paranormal, Romance, Vampires, Young Adult
Pages: 332
Format: Paperback
Source: Borrowed

St. Vladimir’s Academy isn’t just any boarding school—it’s a hidden place where vampires are educated in the ways of magic and half-human teens train to protect them. Rose Hathaway is a Dhampir, a bodyguard for her best friend Lissa, a Moroi Vampire Princess. They’ve been on the run, but now they’re being dragged back to St. Vladimir’s—the very place where they’re most in danger...

Rose and Lissa become enmeshed in forbidden romance, the Academy’s ruthless social scene, and unspeakable nighttime rituals. But they must be careful lest the Strigoi—the world’s fiercest and most dangerous vampires—make Lissa one of them forever.

3 Stars

I start this review with the utmost trepidation because… well here’s a book that pretty much every YA reader on the planet loves. It has crazy amounts of crazy fans and, well, I didn’t think it was fantastic. It wasn’t bad either. It did make me want to bash my head against the wall at some points (we’ll get to that), but some other points were genuinely good. But did it have me jumping out of my chair, bursting with joy, ecstatic about the awesome? Far from it.

Let’s add some context of my reading situation, because I don’t want to lead you on. I am not a vampire fan. In fact, I’m pretty much a vampire hater. I get creeped out by them, I don’t think sucking blood is sexy, it’s just not for me. So I was planning to just avoid this, and never read it (as with all books with ‘vampires’ in the title/synopsis), but no. *tsks* My friends couldn’t leave well enough alone. They were all like:

And the awesome Judith made me an offer I couldn’t refuse (ha) by sending the book to me so I wouldn’t even have to buy it or find some other place to borrow it. So obviously, I had to read it. But by that time I was curious. I mean, I might like it. I might hate it. Curiosity was getting the better of me. So while I was still very skeptical about it, I set off on my reading journey, deciding to liveblog it on Twitter (#vampirehaterreadsVA) to provide some LOLs or impressions.

My problem with Vampire Academy surprisingly is not the vampire aspect. Usually, I’m, like, vampires?

And I was scared, when I started reading, that already on page 3 there was a “feeding” scene. I thought it wouldn’t end well. But the vampire aspect is rather tame, to be honest. As Rose herself is not a vampire but a Dhampir, a half-blood vampire bodyguard, that typical stuff is kept largely out of the picture. In fact, I quite liked these vampires. Much better than Twilight, in any case. These vampires are harmed by the sun, can wield elemental magic, and have an old fashioned monarchical, classist society. I do kind of dislike that their saliva is like a drug to the people they feed on, but… I managed to ignore that for the most part.

So what was my biggest problem with Vampire Academy? What made me want to throw the book across the room and bash my head against the wall sometimes? Rose. Yes, I know, you’re all gaping at the screen right now. “How could she say that??? Rose is the most badass character ever!!!” Well, tough.

You should already be proud of me that it’s not the vampire thing bugging me. But here’s the thing with Rose. Everyone says she’s badass. Sure, she’s reckless, loud, honest and won’t take shit from anybody. But. There’s a fine line between being awesomely badass and being obnoxiously cocky and conceited. And I feel like Rose crosses that line many, many times. Some examples of what I mean:

The incident had given me a dangerous reputation, in addition to my smartass one. The story had gained legendary status, and I liked to imagine that it was still being told around campfires late at night. Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead
Natalie was nice but also one of the most uninteresting people I knew. Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead
I knew I was pretty, but to Moroi boys, my body was more than just pretty: it was sexy in a risqué way. Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead
He was boring, yes, but safe. Just like Natalie. How come all the harmless people were so lame? Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead
I knew perfectly well that there weren’t a lot of girls at this school who looked as good in a bra as I did. Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead

Now, okay, you’re all probably still glaring at me. Because, yes, to a certain extent it is refreshing to have a main character with a bit higher self-esteem than most. But when it’s page after page of comments like this… Seriously, in some parts, on each page Rose was belittling different characters in her narrations, particularly Natalie – all the time. I got sick of her attitude. I wanted to throw the book across the room. It’s a brand of cocky I can’t take. Now, I want to be perfectly honest: had I not borrowed this book from Judith, and had it not had all this praise from everyone who’s read it, I would have given up. That’s how badly she pissed me off. All the time I was reading, I just kept thinking…

Luckily… I can say that she did seem to have grown a little by the end of the book. But I’m still extremely weary of her. She still needs a reality check and a slap across the face. (Also, the way she’s so flirty and devil-may-care with her sexual reputation really bothered me for the fact that she was still a virgin.)

So I kept reading and kept reading… I didn’t really know why. It’s a really simple read, compulsively readable, one might say. I was sometimes annoyed by the juvenile narrations, but I set that aside, just because it read so quickly. But yeah, the writing style leaves more to be desired.

The plot never really hooked me either. I kept waiting and waiting to be sucked in or blown away, but it never happened. I had no clue where the story was going (and not in the good way, in the “where the hell is my plot?” way) and there was no real mystery sucking me in either. I was reading this just to read it because I’d promised friends I would. The plot was just… boring? average?

However, this negativity all out of the way, there were things I liked too. I liked Christian – he was probably my favorite character, because his devil may care attitude closely resembled my own attitude while reading this. I gradually warmed up to Dimitri, though I am not a screaming fangirl for him by any means. Lissa was really intriguing to me, and I think she’s mostly why I kept reading, all things said and done. Her friendship with Rose was… interesting. I like it, for the most part.

The last quarter of the book was truly enjoyable though. Things finally started happening – interesting things (and not childish boarding school bitch wars). The romance between Rose and Dimitri certainly is hot. There’s no getting around that. It definitely caught my attention, and I enjoyed it. And, as I said, Rose appeared to have grown a little. Action-esque plot things happened, some reveals were made, but nothing really blew my mind. It was fun to read, but, turning to the final page, I was still waiting to be wowed.

Summing Up:

This is… a guilty pleasure read. Certainly, it has mass market appeal, proven by the screaming fangirls and glowing reviews. While it did have points of merit, I’m still not blown away. It was an all right read, but, to me, not really worth of all the hype. It’s a fast and easily digestible read, there’s hot boys, but Rose remains a stumbling block for me.

Will I continue with the series? I honestly don’t know. I’ve heard it gets better and better, and the third book is particularly amazing, but I don’t know if it’s really worth my time if I’m not convinced here. And I don’t know if Rose will really grow or if she will just continue to irritate me. Maybe I’ll pick the second book up when I have cleared out my to-read list, have some free time, and want some nice romance on a rainy day. Because, yeah, I’d probably just be reading it for the romance.

GIF it to me straight!

Recommended To:

Err… I don’t know. I’m probably the black sheep here. Most readers would like it.

A note to Judith (& other fans glaring/crying over this):

Let’s Talk!

I’m adding a discussion to this review, which I don’t often do, but truly I want to understand the hype about this series. What is it? What blew you away? Didn’t Rose’s cockiness bother you? Was Dimitri really that smoldering to you? Did you feel that hook with the plot that I didn’t?

Let me (respectfully) know in the comments!

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25 responses to “Book Review: Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead

  1. Bec

    I finished this series a few years ago so my memory is a little rusty, but from what I remember my thoughts were similar to yours. I liked Rose but I didn't love her (I find Sydney from Bloodlines much easier to relate to), and it took my a while to warm up to the romance between her and Dimitri. Rose does grow up though. So many things happen over the course of the six books, and I think that's what I love most, how much Rose and the world changed. Each book was better than the last and I really enjoyed them and the great cast of characters they introduced. I hope your experience improves with over the course of the series like mine did 🙂
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  2. Judith

    Wait, no gifs from ONE show?! I am disappointed in you, Debby. Let me start this endless comment by quoting you:

    "It has crazy amounts of crazy fans" this is about me right? I know it is. I REGRET NOTHING.

    "And the awesome Judith made me an offer I couldn't refuse (ha)" BOOK PUSHING FTW!

    "You should already be proud of me that it's not the vampire thing bugging me." I am SO PROUD of you for this!!! (and I don't want to ruin it but *cough* told you so!)

    I can totally see what you mean about Rose. Usually, I'm not a fan of overly-confident-almost-arrogant characters, but I looove Rose. I like that she's confident for a change, and I like that she doesn't take shit from anyone. Sure, she is childish in this book. I like that she grows throughout the series and becomes much more mature. But I also just love that she's confident and always ready to kick some ass.

    "In a "where the hell is my plot?" way" DYING. This is also something I pointed out in my review (which was 4 stars first, except that I have too many FEELS and decided to just give it 5 stars). The plot is simple, and so is the writing. What makes these books memorable to me are THE FEELS. Rose and Dimitri are one of my favorite OTPs and they make me cry sometimes. I loooove Christian (and ADRIAN, who you haven't met but who is just all kinds of awesome). I also really liked Lissa at first, but she started to annoy me in Shadow Kiss. So yeah, technically I wouldn't say that this was a GREAT book, but things definitely start to pick up at the end of Frostbite and in Shadow Kiss (and hopefully after that!)

    And yes, I do LOVE Dimitri, but mostly because OTP. Their whole forbidden romance / great chemistry / steamy scenes are just… *sigh* But then again, I love Christian and Adrian probably just as much. Overall, this is definitely a comfort series for me. THE FEELS DEBBY THE FEELS.

    Judith out.

  3. Jazmine

    Read the second book!!!! Every main character has flaws. 99% of the main characters these days are like Bella from Twilight. They are the typical shy, insecure, smart girl. Naturally alot of people don't this personality though they are relatable until they keep reading the series and find that the shy normal girl grows up to be become confident and strong. However with Vampire Academy it is the opposite…the main character is already confident and strong. Her flaws like you said relate to her maturity level and yes at the beginning of the series she still needs a lot of growing up to do. But if you keep reading you'll see she does change! She learns to appreciate everything around her and does alot of maturing. So my advice to you is keep reading!!! It's a great series.

  4. BUMMER. My first comment didn't save…. So here I go again:
    I was kind of iffy on book one of this series too. I only read it because my friend lent it to me and she said she really enjoyed it. I liked it, but wasn't totally blown away… At that point I hadn't even come close to starting a blog yet so reading was WAY more casual so I kept reading the series. To be honest… I may not have if I had all the blogging pressure that I do now! But I really did like book one.
    I can totally see what you mean about Rose. I think her attitude really chills out in the rest of the books, but I can see where that's off-putting! It didn't really bother me much, but I know plenty of other people who weren't a fan!
    I think book two was WAY more exciting than book one. The rest of the series kind of goes back and forth from 4 to 5 stars for me and I enjoyed it but I'm not totally nutso for it, ya know? Many awesome moments, but sometimes some really slow ones.
    I think what hooked me was the elemental magic. I just really loved how that was tied into the story and the history of the vampire community!
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  5. You have to keep reading. I gave book one 3 out of 5 stars when I first read it (you can see my review here) but they get better. I ended up absolutely loving the series…so much so that I never read the last book because I didn't want it to end and was waiting for the "right time". Now I'm waiting for some people to catch up on the series so we can all read the last book together.

    KEEP GOING. It's worth it, seriously. Because, the FEELS as Judith said.

  6. I’ve never read the Vampire Academy books either. I’m not crazy about vampires, especially the nauseating way they are portrayed in young adult books. Most young adult romance books are irritating to me anyway and, honestly, Rose sounds like someone I’d want to drop a huge rock on. Her character would probably drive me up the wall. If the main character pisses me off, I’ll probably end up disliking the book a lot.

  7. Amanda

    I really enjoyed this when I read it when it first came out. Mind you, at the time I also thought Twilight was the greatest masterpiece to every exist, so my opinions back then were a bit…meh. Hahaha. I have been wanting to re-read this, and something tells me that I won't enjoy it as much as I did in the past. Reading lots of books will do that to you, I suppose.

    I will say that it's a breath of fresh air to read a review from someone who didn't go completely bonkers over the book, lol. This was a great review!
    My recent post Review: The Silver Linings Playbook by Matthew Quick

  8. latenightswithgoodbooks

    I actually haven't read this series. I'd never even heard about it until I started blogging. Based on your review and even other more positive ones, I can see this being something that I might have liked as a young teen, but I probably wouldn't really enjoy today. That's how I felt about Cynthia Hand's Unearthly when I read it a month ago. I'm of the opinion that some YA books bridge the gap between teen and older readers better than others. I'm sorry you didn't really like it, but at least there were some redeeming aspects in it for you.

  9. I'm basically here to cry about how you love Christian because a lot of people don't understand ;_______________; IS HE NOT THE BEST CHARACTER. FHSHJILDHGILDHJGLDJGLJD. I love him so much. He's barely in the last three books, though, which disappoints me greatly. Possibly why I enjoy Shadow Kiss much more than the rest, aside from the Ending of Doom.

    I might be giggling at you over the vampire thing though. *smiles innocently*
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  10. Hahaha, there's plenty of OTHER crazy fans of this series – you are far from the only one.

    I dunno, I think I may have been able to like Rose better if I were in a different mood. This is a guilty pleasure type book and I have to really be in a certain mood for that to agree with me. If she settles down a little in the sequels, maybe I'll grow to like her better. But WHO KNOWS when I'll get around to that hahahha.

    Yeah, for me, plot and writing is still important to evaluating a book, regardless of how epic the feels. And I didn't have that many feels for them yet anyway.

    I've heard actually that the last three books are pretty bad – from almost everyone. So now that the third book has spoiled for me.. I don't know about my motivation to continue with the series. Maybe I'll wait for you to read them 🙂

  11. Exactly, with the blogging pressure I don't know if it's worth it for me to spend so much time reading these books. *sigh* we'll see.

    Good to hear though that Rose chills out a little. That gives me a bit more hope.

    I did like the magic a lot as well, though it didn't really make too much sense yet in this book. But yeah, that's probably what makes the vampires doable for me, haha.

  12. Oh wow, I'm not last to read this series! Yeah, I don't think you're really missing out on TOO much. But of the vampire books out there this seems to be the highest rated series. I'll be curious if you ever do check it out what you think of it 🙂

  13. Hahaha, I'm glad I'm not alone then in being put off by Rose's attitude. And yeah, liking the main character is vital for me to like the book.

  14. Hahaha, I think I probably would really have liked this a lot more if I were a bit younger. It just doesn't stand out very much among the amazing books I've read over the past year.

    Aww, thank you! You just made me feel better for being a black sheep.

  15. Yeah, I probably would have liked this if I was 16-18 or something, but nowadays… I'm over just reading books for cheap FEELS with little substance in terms of plot.

  16. Hahahahaha, somehow I always manage to spot which characters would be your favorites. I might want to keep reading just to see more of him, haha.

    Did I mention to you that someone on Goodreads spoiled Shadow Kiss for me? T_T They had a two sentence review and in all caps said "OMG THE MOMENT WHEN _____________". Ugh. Now I don't even know if it's worth it to continue.

  17. Pam

    I do agree with you about the first one. I read it and wasn't that impressed, and didn't read the next one right away. But then I decided to go ahead and read the second one, and then I was hooked. They get progressively better, and you definitely get more invested in the characters. Rose gets better and so does Dimitri (I think it's the third book that ends in such a way that I actually had tears in my eyes and had to immediately read the next one). And the Bloodlines series is excellent!
    My recent post Book Review: Ruby Red and Sapphire Blue (Ruby Red Trilogy #1 and #2) by Kerstin Gier

  18. This is what I keep hearing about the series, so I guess I'll continue at some point, but no rush from me. I am curious about the Bloodlines series – people seem to think it's better than VA.

  19. I can totally see where you were at for Vampire Academy. I LOVE this series but I wasn't entirelly thrilled with the first book. So much so I didn't even review it and only started reviewing the series at Frostbite. I eventually just sucked it up and read Frostbite because I had purchased the two together and THAT is where I fell in love with the series. I didn't think it was super entertaining and Lissa grinded on me way to much for me to like her. Now granted I adored Rose and Dimitri straight away(well I think I liked Rose straight away, this was a long time ago but I'm CERTAIN I liked Dimitri straight away) but I didn't feel super into the plot much like you. I find the ending grabbed me and if it wasn't for that I probably would never touched Frostbite. I would suggest giving the second book a go, if you don't like it I would think it's safe to say that it's not for you(jeez… don't go all the way to the third book *claws eyes*… I can't imagine reading a series you only half enjoyed HOPING something will happen). Anyways enough rambles! I loved your review! It's so very rare to see someone who didn't totally enjoy Vampire Academy 🙂

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  20. Okay I know this comment is like super late, but come on, it's VA, my teenage obsession. I have to get my endorsement in.

    I love your review, as always. I'm glad you didn't absolutely hate this book, and the problems you had with it are some of my biggest issues with it, too. But I'll be probably the hundredth to tell you that it really keeps getting better. Rose's character development is awesome, and the plot gets stronger and stronger. But really screw all that stuff, because Adrian. If you like Christian, I guarantee you'll love Adrian. So you have to at least read the second book. Pretty please?
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  21. Nikki

    I honestly agree with most things here. Yes, Rose could get annoying, but I got past that. What really got me hooked here (other than Dimitri’s and Rose’s relationship) was the relationship the characters have with each other. They ran pretty deep and admirable. And honestly Adrian was adorbs throughout the series. He was mostly used, but still adorbs. The story is really predictable though. Except with what happened with Dimitri. But I still cried nonetheless. I was just REALLY REALLY attached to Dimitri. HAHA. I think you’d like the Siberia part of the series, though you’d still get annoyed with Rose a bit because of her depression. Please do try to read it. It IS a pretty good book. Not great, but good. Not a total waste of time either for the main girl isn’t WEAK for once. :))))