Saturday, September 10, 2011

Review: Bloodlines by Richelle Mead

Bloodlines by Richelle Mead

Series: Bloodlines (#1)
Pages: 432
Publisher: Razorbill
Published: August 23rd, 2011

When alchemist Sydney is ordered into hiding to protect the life of Moroi princess Jill Dragomir, the last place she expects to be sent is a human private school in Palm Springs, California. But at their new school, the drama is only just beginning.

Populated with new faces as well as familiar ones, Bloodlines explores all the friendship, romance, battles and betrayals that made the #1 New York Times bestselling Vampire Academy series so addictive - this time in a part-vampire, part-human setting where the stakes are even higher and everyone's out for blood.

Bloodlines is the first in the spin-off series to the much-loved Vampire Academy. This series is centered around Sydney, part of the Alchemist world not touched on in much depth in the original series, and combines new plots and the denouement of old ones.

We, of course, have Sydney coming across from the old series, along with Adrian. Also joining the cast are secondary characters Jill, Eddie, and Abe in person, as well as many others mentioned in brief. I can't say any of these guys were my favourites, but I was interested enough initially in finding out more about them.

Sydney, however, disappointed me. Mead is known for her kick-ass heroins, and Sydney is many things, but kick-ass is not one of them. I like plenty of female characters who aren't, but Sydney didn't have noticeable strength in any other manifestations. She allowed herself to be walked all over, and in action sequences, where she sat and watched, I wanted to push her into the fight. On top of that, Sydney had a mumsy sort of feel that had me surprised when I found she was just 18 and made her difficult to relate with.

Beyond Sydney, the background characters were frustrating. Jill didn't appreciate the lengths everyone was going to to protect her and acted like a bratty child. She's new to being royal, I was constantly reminding myself, trying to give her the benefit of the doubt, but once everyone started falling for her despite her behaviour, I was through trying to like her. The characters just lacked the likable and relatable quality that made the Vampire Academy books so enjoyable.

Richelle Mead's classic style of writing was familiar and present again in Bloodlines. The tone was light, the descriptions sometimes in excess, but the events were clearly told and simply put. Smooth and easy to read.

The plot was uncharacteristic of Mead in that it was almost predictable. The mysteries that Sydney puzzled over had obvious answers, and the realisation and consequent denouement felt anti-climactic.

Overall, Bloodlines was still an entertaining read, but an outlier to Mead's usual edge-of-your-seat stories with characters unlike the compelling and sympathetic people we're accustomed to. I hope the series picks up in The Golden Lily -- Richelle Mead has always been one of my favourite authors, and I hope that this was just a rocky start to another great series.

I give Bloodlines a 3 out of 5.