Okay. I'm going to try to do this as peacefully as I possibly can.
Hold on. *digs through purse*
Here you go. It's my girl card. I know it's going to be revoked once I start this review. Consider it a show of good faith. Let's get this over with. *takes a deep breath*
I thought Dimitri was kind of boring.*ducks projectiles thrown by fangirls*
Wait, please hear me out! And put down that...is that a harpoon? Where on earth did you manage to get a harpoon on such short notice?! You carry that thing around everywhere with you, or something?
Let's get this all out of the way. Yes, I have read all of the VA books. Yes, I have read the current Bloodlines books. This is a review of *only* the first Vampire Academy book. I am not discussing how characters "eventually" act, or how they change over the course of the series.
Got it? Okay.
I wasn't quite sure how I'd like VA when I first started the book. I knew that it was an insanely popular series, and I should probably dig myself out of my hole in the ground and read it. And while it's not as good as I was expecting it be, based on comments and reviews, it certainly wasn't as bad as I feared it would be. The story was actually pretty addictive, as evidenced by the fact that I read the entire series, and am anxiously waiting for [b:The Fiery Heart|9833184|The Fiery Heart (Bloodlines, #4)|Richelle Mead|http://d202m5krfqbpi5.cloudfront.net/books/1361990451s/9833184.jpg|18752242] to come out.
I enjoyed the Moroi/dhampir set-up. It was nice to see something different being done with vampires. It took me a while to figure out the different breeds in my mind, and then realize that not all Moroi were royal, but about a fourth of the way through the book, it all sorted itself out in my head.
The plot was...decent. The whole high school setting (complete with drama!) didn't always feel like the most appropriate choice - most of the time, nobody acted like they were in high school. I suppose it helps justify all of the gossip that becomes a central plot point, though.
The magic system was very interesting, especially once Lissa's "specialty" was revealed. I wished there'd be more detail about how the Moroi magic worked, but then I like the various ways authors find to explain how magic works in their universes. I'm weird like that.
As for the characters...
I actually liked Lissa more than I thought I would. I was expecting her to be more useless, but her story was pretty sympathetic, and her powers were so much fun to watch in action. They got even better once moral dilemmas were thrown into the mix.
Rose, while not as bad as I was expecting her to be, could get a bit grating at times. But I don't entirely see the whole "slut" issue with her - she appreciated good-looking guys, used to be a party-girl, and hooked up with Jessie, sure. But she's a teenage girl who's about to spend the rest of her life serving someone else. She wants to have fun while she still can, and if dating is fun, then fine - all she's doing is dating. And making out, occasionally.
By the end of the book, she realizes that if she's serious about taking care of Lissa, she can't spend her time having fun. She's got to grow up, and focus on her job. That little bit of character progression was enough to keep me from wanting to smack her every time she pointed out how insanely hot she was compared to everyone else. Don't get me wrong, I still occasionally wanted to smack her. Just not as often, in hindsight.
Dimitri...like I said, he just didn't do it for me. He's a badass, yes, but I just didn't think he was all that swoon-worthy. That's not to say he wasn't a cool character, though. Not everyone can make dusters and Western novels look cool.
Christian was actually my favorite character in this book. He just seemed like he had a much stronger story than the others. His family is disgraced because his parents willingly became monsters. They tried to steal him away to make him into one of them, but instead got killed right in front of him. He has to deal with the social stigma that marks him because of what happened. Despite all of that, he still manages to be as snarky and loyal towards Lissa as Rose is. He was just a really fun character.
And the villain - I actually liked the villain, very much. He wasn't obviously the bad guy. He didn't want power, or money. All he wanted was to not die. And while his methods (kidnapping a young girl and enslaving her for all eternity, torturing her to bend her to his will) were despicable, he at least had a very good reason for his actions. He was a realistic villain. And in a vampire series, that's saying something.
The first book captured enough of my attention to make me want to continue with the series. And it only gets better from here.