Vampire Academy

Vampire Academy  - Richelle Mead Richelle Mead's "Vampire Academy" did intrigue me initially in its premise. The story revolves around Rose Hathaway, a Damphir who serves as a guardian and friend to Lissa, a Moroi vampire princess. The two are forcefully brought back to the politically charged St. Vladamir's Academy, where the girls attend classes and have to deal with the usual teen politics among the student body. Add to that some forbidden romantic tensions (which honestly was so mishandled in Rose's case that I nearly threw the book against the wall) and some confrontational revelations (that ended up saving the book a little for me because I didn't see it coming), and you have the first book in the collective "Vampire Academy" series.I'm not sure how to compare it to some of its vampiric peers in series for teens, but this feels about as explicit, maybe a little more, than the House of Night series to start. I can't judge it initially as to how it compares to the Twilight series, but this book "seemed" like it had a more likable narrator than Bella Swann.I'm all right with teen fiction that revolves around social hierarchies, school politics, serious teen issues (depression, cutting, sexuality), but I appreciate it more when it's actually done well and with some heart and true connectivity - not for the sake of simply creating angst. As for the romance in this book, it's really thinly constructed and not well done when compared to other books of its genre (YA collecitvely, not talking about HoN or the Twilight series - which had their own glaring flaws).Rose Hathaway is the character that kept me reading this book, and it's perhaps because she's has a bite that the remainder of the main cast seems to lack. Part of the reason may be because she's the narrator of the story, but at the same time she's hampered immensely by a number of factors. Being an omnipresent narrator in modes is one of them - almost too much so. Her ability to body jump into Lissa's consciousness to find out certain things about Lissa's character is very cool - a lot could've been done with that ability. It's also a great way to establish tension, but it was mishandled by the collective "info dumping" the author does at the expense of trying to establish the scene through Rose's perspective. It doesn't seem like info dumping because the writing style is quite light (incredibly flawed, but I'm choosing to focus on the story overall), but the lack of tension and the way Rose seems to know everything about it doesn't truly let the revelations hit home. I will give some credit to it because Rose does have feelings about these events and they're shown in some fair capacity. Another factor is that her character flaws actually short change her character when they're assumed as one thing. Her character is difficult to really get behind as these revelations come to light because there's really no heart put into developing why she is that way.Lissa's character might have been better if she didn't feel like in one half of the book she was completely different in character than the second half of the book. I know the author placed it on her powers taking over her consciousness, but it still felt thinly established.The rest of the cast? Terribly flat. (Dimitri had potential, as did Christian, but I think it's a case of mishandling that that progressively took away from their characterization.) One of the antagonists, Mia, seems to have her reasons for making Rose and Lissa's lives miserable, but I think it could've been shown, rather than told, better in the unfolding events of the novel.I think if you're the type of reader that likes a continuously unfolding drama, this book will hold your interest a little more, but I'm surprised the author didn't play up the vampire aspect a lot more rather than the drama. (And no, I'm not talking about the feeding aspect - which felt a bit forced to me.) It actually could've been a fun book, but instead focuses more on the cliched elements of teen YA fiction and overtly glosses over some issues (cutting, sexual relations) that I think carry heavier tags than what this book handled with them.Overall, I'm not opposed to continuing this series to see where it goes, but I feel very underwhelmed after reading the first novel.Overall score: 2/5