I have been pining for this book ever since I first heard about it. Like many other YA fans out there, I was super excited for it and, although I didn't have a chance to read Richelle Mead's Vampire Academy series yet, I heard so many awesome things about her previous works that I knew I HAD TO read her newest release and find out what everyone was raving about. I so wanted to love this book! The premise was intriguing and promising, the characters well developed and Richelle's writing style is absolutely fantastic - I fell in love with it right from the get-go. How could you possibly go wrong with that? Well, apparently you can! While I liked the setting, the pace was totally off. It was insanely slow. The narrative voice was superb: realistic, smooth and engaging, but where was the action? Why was the plot so silly? Why-oh-why was the story line focused entirely on dating-related issues, making it look more like some cheap soap opera (Days of our Lives? The Bald and The Beautiful?) rather than a badass vampire novel I expected. I'm really sorry to say that, but honestly, this book was a disappointment.
Those of you who have read the Vampire Academy series surely remember Sydney, the alchemist that broke the rules to help Rose Hathaway in her quest to save Dimitri. Sydney is back and so are few other VA characters that you might recognize - Eddie, Jill, Adrian... even Rose makes an appearance at the beginning of the book, although she doesn't really have any major role to play in the story. Jill Dragomir's life is in danger. Her sister - Lisa Dragomir - has been elected the new Moroi Queen but not everyone is happy about it. There's been a lot of protests and dissidence. Not being able to get past Lisa's security, the attackers targeted Jill. Unfortunately Lisa's rule is dependent on there being at least one other person in her royal family. Jill, being her only relative, is an easy target. She needs to be sent away somewhere safe until the new law is passed and the "one-extra-member-in-the-royal-family" rule doesn't apply anymore. Moroi ask the alchemists for help and Sydney gets assigned to protecting Jill. They're sent to Palm Springs, where together with Eddie, they will be posing as high school students, doing their best to remain undiscovered. "But instead of finding safety at Amberwood Prep, Sydney discovers the drama is only just beginning."
Sounds really great, right? In truth, the whole story described above takes place on the first 10 and the last 50 pages of this book, and you could easily skip the rest. Since the moment Sydney, Jill and Eddie arrive in California all they do is try to figure out who should date who and why. Jill acts like a spoiled bratWhy does she even HAVE TO have a boyfriend? Is it really so hard to lay low for 3 months and try not to attract attention to herself? Is it a Moroi thing? Can't she really control her hormones for the few weeks it takes to pass the new law? OH-my-gosh, seriously?
Sydney was a little bit better and I actually felt sorry for her having to babysit the Moroi kids. She was doing her best to keep everyone safe and happy, which proved to be harder than she anticipated, especially with Keith watching her every move and waiting for her to make a mistake. Adrian, on the other hand, was just plain annoying. He was constantly going out of his way to cause trouble. He was partying and drinking, even though he knew what it does to Jill. His constant whining really got on my nerves and made it even more painful for me to get through the boring passages.
On the bright side, I really fell in love with Mead's narrative voice. She definitely knows how to write and if only there was more action and less (pointless) drama, this book would go straight to my top-favorite shelf. Perhaps if I've read the VA series before reaching for Bloodlines, I would enjoy this spin-off more. It surely is a character-driven story and I imagine that the Vampire Academy fans will have fun reading about their favorite characters again. I however, didn't feel the magic here. To me these people were strangers and, to be perfectly honest, I didn't like them very much.
While most of the book was rather slow-paced and, well, boring, the ending came as a total surprise. I loved it. It was everything I hoped for when I picked up this book. Intense, emotional, thrilling, the last 50 pages of Bloodlines were very rewarding and satisfying. For this fantastic ending alone I am giving this book 3/5 starts, instead of 2/5, which officially makes it "an ok read, but nothing mind-blowing" according to my rating system.
The bottom line is: If you read and loved the Vampire Academy books, by all means go get yourself a copy of Bloodlines, you will most likely love it. There are plenty of small references to the VA series throughout the book, plus, like I said before, you will probably enjoy meeting all the VA characters again. If you're new to Richelle Mead's vampire world, well, this is not the book to start with. Don't make the same mistake I did, start with the Vampire Academy. This will save you a lot of disappointment.