Book Thoughts | Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead


St. Vladimir’s Academy isn’t just any boarding school—it’s a hidden place where vampires are educated in the ways of magic and half-human teens train to protect them. Rose Hathaway is a Dhampir, a bodyguard for her best friend Lissa, a Moroi Vampire Princess. They’ve been on the run, but now they’re being dragged back to St. Vladimir’s—the very place where they’re most in danger…

Rose and Lissa become enmeshed in forbidden romance, the Academy’s ruthless social scene, and unspeakable nighttime rituals. But they must be careful lest the Strigoi—the world’s fiercest and most dangerous vampires—make Lissa one of them forever.

[stextbox id=”kelley3″ image=”null”]NOTE: Book Thoughts are kind of like non-reviews. Sometimes I read a book and I don’t have enough review-like thoughts to write a full review, but the book does fill me with more thoughts than can be easily combined into a mini review. So, I write Book Thoughts, where I can discuss some aspects of the book without trying to advertise my ramblings as an actual review. This is one such post. It should go without saying that this post will likely contain spoilers.[/stextbox]

Some Thoughts on Vampire Academy

First, a few things in regards to me and Vampire Academy:

  1. I saw the author at an event  in 2013 (or maybe 2012?) and really enjoyed her style, but still decided not to read the books.
  2. I saw the movie without having read the books, and I really enjoyed it more than I expected to.
  3. On the way home from the movie, I had many questions for my sister about the book, some of which were answered satisfactorily, but some of which just angered or frustrated me.
  4. All that being said, I then decided that maybe I could give the books a try, and my sister came to the rescue with the audiobook.

In the end, I felt like I really didn’t get much out of reading the book after seeing the movie, and in fact, some things just frustrated me further. I would like to discuss a couple of these things here.

The Most Frustrating Thing: Lack of Logic

Look, I don’t want to get into a long rant or debate or anything, but there are a few things that just made my logic-brain hurt, and almost give up on even trying to read the book.

Why are the Moroi so weak and vulnerable?

The Dhampir are conscripted to protect the Moroi — apparently from the Strigoi who just want to attack them for whatever reason. Apparently Dhampir get improved everything thanks to their mixed Moroi-Human genetic make-up, so I guess that makes them stronger than vampires now? The Dhampir have extensive physical/combat training so they can be good guardians for the Moroi, but why don’t the Moroi do this too?

At one point, Dmitri is training Rose and he asks her what she should do if she and Lissa were at the mall and were accosted by a Strigoi. Rose rattled off each different method for killing a Strigoi, which Dmitri shot down for one reason or another. Frustrated, she asks wtf she’s supposed to do then. His answer? Run. But what about Lissa? Rose (and I) wondered. Well, according to Dmitri, she’ll be fine as long as she’s with Rose.

Um. What.

Remember that part about Moroi not doing ANY physical conditioning, and Rose being timed on her running? Tell me, how is Lissa supposed to still be with Rose if Rose is supposed to run the hell away from a Strigoi? WHY AREN’T THEY AT LEAST TRAINING THE MOROI IN BASIC PHYSICAL CONDITIONING?

Deep breaths…

So I thought that maybe they were supposed to defend themselves with magic, right? Since while the Dhampir are training to be Guardians, the Moroi are taking classes to specialize in their magic. But ummm… no. Apparently they don’t even remember any attack spells and magic is only supposed to be used for… I don’t even know, because they never say. Lighting candles? Cooling off the room? I have no idea, because the only examples of magic used in this book are when they’re attacking someone else.

I sigh.

(Eesh, this got longer than I planned. Oops.)

The Most Notable Thing: Social Issues

Despite this book inviting me to describe with words like “not deep” and “vapid” it did address a couple of social issues, which surprised me and then sort of disappointed me. Mostly, I want to talk about Lissa.

I was intrigued and impressed to see cutting/depression addressed in this book.

Lissa goes through waves of depression due to a variety of stimuli, and she resorts to hurting herself. Mostly, she seems to cut her arms with a little razor blade she keeps with her at all times. This obviously becomes an issue that arises more than once within the story, and eventually forces Rose to tell someone about it so that Lissa can get help.

I liked that this book included something that many people may go through, but often seems to be kind of avoided as a topic of any sort of discussion. I did think its portrayal was accurate, from my limited amount of experience with this (but we won’t get into that here, okay? Thanks.).

I was hoping the book would delve into this a bit deeper, but it turned out to be less significant in the plot than I wanted. Still, I think it was good that it was included and addressed within the story.

It frustrated me that this was not included in the movie.

Having seen the movie before reading the book, I had no idea self harm was a theme here. The movie portrays the cuts on Lissa’s arms as a side effect of using her spirit magic — as something that is happening to her, rather than something she is doing to herself. At some points, it shows her absentmindedly scratching her arms to the point of rawness — again, this is something happening to her without her realizing it. This very much annoyed me, once I read the book.

I really wish this had been included in the movie, because it would have made the point all that much more powerful, and would have added a bit of depth to a movie that was obviously being marketed as a vapid teeny-bopper flick. The biggest redeeming quality of the book (in my mind) was removed from the film adaptation. Ugh.

Strangely? I still think I enjoyed the movie more than I enjoyed the book, but it might just be because I experienced them in that order.

WHat do you think? Have you read this book or seen the movie? Am I overanalyzing again? Have any insight? Help me out! Let’s chat!

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