Bloodlines by Richelle Mead
Digital Audiobook narrated by Emily Shaffer
Published by Penguin Group on August 23rd 2011
Series: Bloodlines #1
Genres: Fantasy, Paranormal, Vampires, Young Adult
Length: 421 pages or 12 hours, 53 minutes
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I wasn't free of my past, not yet.
Sydney's blood is special. That's because she's an alchemist - one of a group of humans who dabble in magic and serve to bridge the worlds of humans and vampires. They protect vampire secrets - and human lives. But the last encounter Sydney had with vampires got her in deep trouble with the other alchemists. And now with her allegiences in question, her future is on the line.
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 unlikeliest of places: a human boarding school in Palm Springs, California. The last thing Sydney wants is to be accused of sympathizing with vampires. And now she has to live with one.
The Moroi court believe Jill and Sydney will be safe at Amberwood Prep, but threats, distractions, and forbidden romance lurk both outside - and within - the school grounds. Now that they're in hiding, the drama is only just beginning.
I really wanted to like Bloodlines. Going into it, my attitude was very positive. I almost immediately found myself out-of-the-loop, and when I thought I could latch on to Sydney as a likable character, that failed me, too. I was determined to push through it, waiting for the tides to turn, and they just didn’t. I’m sorry! I wanted to be all up in the YEAHHHH NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER WUT! of this book, but … I can’t.
Sydney. … Sydney, Sydney, Sydney. I really though I was going to like this character. I thought she and I were going to be badass strigoi butt-kicking pals. Unfortunately, Sydney is too busy doing her own thing, not knowing how to handle basic human interactions, worrying about how she can have the perfect body, and generally being a bubbly popular school nerd to hang out. FINE WHATEVER I’LL FIND ANOTHER CHARACTER.
The problem was, I didn’t. At times, I found Adrian tolerable, but mostly he’s just a hot mess. Jill is whiny and pathetic. Lee is too sugary (also evil), Keith is twisted and horrible, Clarence is loco… I’m running out of characters here!
I’ll give it to Mead, I do like her world. I’m game for vampires, especially those that don’t sparkle, mope, or French kiss excessively. I like the additional levels of supernatural persons she’s added: strigoi, moroi, dhampir, alchemist, human. I don’t even mind the boarding school environment. She’s clearly well organized in her different classes, behaviors, and political systems, and it makes the world feel believable.
I really wanted to know what was going on with those tattoos. I wanted to stop reading the first time Sydney complained about being a size 2/4 (WHY ARE YOU GIVING THESE YOUNG WOMEN IMAGE COMPLEXES WE HAVE ENOUGH PROBLEMS), but there were the weird comments about the tattoos and SERIOUSLY I KNOW HOW IT’S GOING TO END JUST TELL ME I’M RIGHT OKAY THERE ARE OTHER BOOKS. The various strains of the plot and character behaviors were enormously predictable. I did think that the two plots she ended up focusing on would be related as ONE BIG PLOT but I was wrong there, silly me.
Also, unless you count a wee bit of bullying revenge, this book was not about protecting Jill. It explains their living arrangements, but is not the story. DECEPTIVE SUMMARY – I EXPECTED MORE IMPALINGS.
Writing / Narration
Unfortunately for Mead, I started reading this right after Em @ Keystroke Blog posted about the Green Eye Epidemic. GUESS WHAT. Almost all the characters in this story are blonde. And they have either blue or green eyes… except apparently Sydney who has *ahem* eyes like molten GOLD. … I don’t think that’s a thing, and weird eye colors haven’t been established as part of this universe (right?), so WHY.
It’s written in such a way that if you haven’t read the Vampire Academy series, you feel immediately lost. A good spinoff should stand on its own (see: everything Tamora Pierce writes). She also didn’t weave the plots together very well. She focused on one thing at a time, and it took FOREVER to go back to the things that interests me.
Then, as if to entice you to the next book, she awkwardly throws in a mystery. HAHA NOW YOU HAVE TO READ THE SEQUEL!!! … … Yeah, no.
This book was not for me. I can see how Adrian fangirls would run to this series because he gets a good amount of screentime, but I want MORE. I want to like Sydney! She had a lot of character potential to be really awesome, and honestly the girl ought to know at least self-defense techniques. But instead she was just… clueless. I hate to see what her sister would have been like in that position. Wow.
All complaints aside, this book was not enough to turn me off of reading Vampire Academy. I am still interested in this world, and from other reviews I’ve read, this is not Richelle Mead’s strongest work. So, okay. I’ll try another series. But that’s the last chance she gets!
“I couldn’t breathe.”
“The greatest changes in history have come when people were able to shake off what others told them to do.”
“I used to think you were weak and just didn’t fight back … but now, honestly, I think you’re actually pretty tough. It takes a hell of a lot of strength to not complain and lash out.”
I think that fans of Mead’s Vampire Academy series will enjoy these books. In addition, Melissa de la Cruz fans (Blue Bloods) will probably like Bloodlines. This should also appeal those those who enjoyed Cassandra Clare’s Mortal Instruments series, and perhaps those who liked Twilight or P.C. & Kristin Cast’s House of Night series.