Bloodlines by Richelle Mead
Series: Bloodlines #1 (1/6)
Published by Razorbill on August 23, 2011
Genres: [Young Adult] Paranormal, Urban Fantasy
2.5 Stars, Completed on March 22, 2015
– highlight to view SPOILERS, may contain VA SPOILERS –
Ugh, another vampire book, Summer? I started reading Jane Austen’s Emma weeks ago, but for some reason I’m having a hard time finishing it. Despite being an Austen fan, Emma is so unlikeable, and I’m a reader that must like the protagonist (even if they’re bad, mean, evil, etc). And I really need to read and review Gates of Thread and Stone, but for some reason I can’t even start that one as well. That too has been on hold. So every time reader’s block appears, it cues a vampire novel, my literary guilty pleasure. Thus why I started and finished Bloodlines in a few days.
I had high expectations of Bloodlines because it’s a spin off to the Vampire Academy series, which I thoroughly enjoyed. In VA there was romance, humor, action, and unpredictable plot twists (well unpredictable for the majority of the time). If you haven’t read those, you should. It’s remained as my favorite young adult vampire series ever since I started reading them. Unfortunately, Bloodlines started off real slow for me. I’m not sure whether it was because I was already in a reading slump or it was due to Mead trying to fill in the gaps for readers that weren’t familiar with the VA world and the long refresher annoyed me.
For those that read VA, they would know that Sydney got in a lot of trouble for helping Rose escape from prison. So the first couple of chapters of Bloodlines pretty much relayed this and recapped what readers needed to know about the VA world. Then the Alchemists, a human race that strives to keep the peace between human and vampire races but also frowns upon their own race in getting friendly with the vampires, ends up assigning Sydney as an undercover field alchemist in Palm Springs to help hide the new Moroi (a harmless race of vampires) Queen’s half-sister, Jill. This mission may seem easy for any other alchemist, but Sydney already has the Alchemists breathing down her neck for her act of her “disloyalty” after breaking Rose out. Even worse, Sydney has do this with Keith Darnell, a cruel and sick Alchemist that she secretly knew raped her older sister in the past. In Palm Springs, Sydney also has to maintain appeasing the Alchemists so that they don’t send her to a re-education center, a place to reinforce Alchemist values to disobedient and rebellious members. Along with this pressure, she has to pose as a high schooler and keep an eye on Jill and the undercover vampires helping with this hideout, while having Keith constantly trying bait her into trouble. And a mystery begins when students at this school are carrying metallic tattoos that give enhanced powers. In the process of unraveling this discovery and keeping Jill undetected, she begins to feel camaraderie and friendship to the vampires working with her, which is a huge taboo in the Alchemist world.
I really do enjoy reading Richelle Mead’s writing, and I always manage to fall in love with her characters (even how ever annoying they may seem at times). And this series really does prove that Mead created this series for Adrian fans since his character development was left unresolved in VA. I really liked his character in VA, and I’m glad he got his spotlight in this one. It was also a relief that there was no real love triangle, and to be honest, very little romance.
However, I can’t really seem to love this series just yet. I think what really bothered me the most about this series was that it was too similar to VA. Mead must have known the difficulties she’d face to recreate a new series for the same world. I wouldn’t exactly say all of it was a carbon copy, but there were too many similar connections readers of both series would notice. Sometimes the similarities were welcomed, other times it felt rather boring and repetitive. Sydney isn’t the exact same kickbutt heroine like Rose in VA, but it was evident she had other strengths. So A+ for Sydney’s character. On the other hand, I had problems with the others. I know they share blood, but I didn’t find it pleasant that Jill was an exact copy of Lissa. She’s Moroi, annoying, and almost every guy falls for her (literally 3 in this book so far). Both Lissa and Jill were irritating to read about, but I gave Jill some slack in Bloodlines since she’s only 15 and I didn’t like my 15 self all that much either. But there were other parallel characters. Ms. Terwilliger reminded me of Sonya Karp, both were loopy teachers that cared about the main heroines. Laurel is the equivalent to Mia, both were the mean girls of the school and hated the sub-heroine (Jill/Lissa). And, of course, Adrian reminds me of Dimitri just because they evoke the forbidden love plot. And, am I the only one that gets the same vibes from Clarence and Victor? Both had lunatic kids/nieces (Lee totally reminds me of Natalie) that wanted to become strigoi. Maybe I’m just reading too much into this, and making too many connections for myself.
Another awful thing I found about this book was its predictable plot at times. I’m horrified to say this because Mead is usually my cliffhanger and plot twist queen (oh, and she shares this throne with Cassandra Clare). I found Keith’s hand in the overall scheme of the celestial tattoos and Lee’s desire to become Strigoi at the end to be unsurprising. There were just so many clues. I mean it was suspicious Keith was perpetually “busy” and Lee was always uneasy when Clarence talked about the slit throats. Even old lady Weathers mentioned Lee looking familiar after she mentioned the poor girl that got murdered. This may be an unpopular opinion, but the plot was too obvious for me.
So finishing this, I had a lots of complaints about the characters, but my love for Richelle Mead’s witty writing made up for most of my disappointments. I’m sure someone who has or hasn’t read VA would love this series still. There’s still superb writing and some enthralling plot, I just don’t think it lived up to my expectations of creativity and originality compared to my beloved VA world. Overall, it was somewhat disappointing but still made me curious to see if the next books would improve. So I haven’t given up on Bloodlines just yet. I actually read The Golden Lily and The Indigo Spell shortly after this one in hopes of Mead redeeming her imaginative self. So there’ll be two more reviews of the next two books in this series soon.