I gave this book 3 stars on my first read. I raised my rating after reading and liking it more on my second read.
Addition : Why I think you should read VA
The before : September 2010
I was a stubborn brat when it came to reading Vampire Academy. Part of me honestly thought that a vampire series couldn't impress me after experiencing how oversaturated the genre had become with depressing and lackluster characters and stories.
Because of this, I went into my first read of VA begrudgingly and with a bad attitude. It didn't make any sense to me why so many people were rabid fans of this series. I think I pre-programmed myself to want to hate the books.
So I read the first book and ended up liking it. But I still didn't see what the big deal was. My review reflected the attitude that it was an easy read and somewhat entertaining - but what was the big deal?
Apparently, there must have been something sparked because I started book 2 shortly thereafter and then found myself blazing through the rest of the series, getting more and more addicted with each book.
The After : September 2012
Two years later and this remains one of my favorite series of all time. Even though book 1 had a few glaring errors, each book got better by massive leaps and bounds. The end of book 3 had me crying, the second half of book 4 had me on pins and needles, and after I finished book 5 I joined the crew of people who were throwing out theories about what could possibly happen in the upcoming release of book 6. Since then, I've devoured the graphic novels and spinoff series Bloodlines (featuring a cast of extras from the original VA books).
I had become obsessed.
Dimitri is one of my all-time favorite heroes. Period. There is no one I've come across in my book reading history quite like Guardian Belikov. He is bad-ass and lethal. He is loyal and honorable. He is strong, vigilant, and protective. He is the man you want to take home to momma before dragging him off to bed (he is 24 and all man, so I do not feel guilty about admitting this!). He is every characteristic that I'd want to see in a hero, without being turned into an arrogant and controlling asshole like you see in so many books featuring a larger-than-life male lead.
Rose is one of my all-time favorite female leads. What? Both the male and female in the same story are great? She is mouthy, stubborn, determined, loyal, brave, and can also kick major ass. If you ever wanted a friend who would go to bat for you, Rose is your girl.
Rarely, does a couple balance one another in a story. Now, this isn't to say that these two are an actual couple (I will neither confirm nor deny that they end up together, since another potential love interest does enter the picture in book 2), but the chemistry between Roza and Dimka is off the charts because they are able to challenge each other.
Oh, but wait. There's a complication. Rose is being trained to become a guardian by Dimitri. That's right - they are teacher and student. Now, this isn't in the disgustingly creepy pedo way. Rose is almost 18 and Dimitri is 24. Their values and ways of thinking often show them more as equals than mentor and student, so the lines become blurred. But yes...this has the potential to become a forbidden and dangerous love story...if they ever allowed it go there.
I'm not telling, of course!
Final analysis from then to now :
My first read complaints were that I didn't understand why Rose was so down for the cause and had such unfailing devotion to the ruling class. Even after going through a complete series read, I still struggle with this, even though I liked some of the attitude shifts in the later books.
Lissa didn't impress me back in 2010. She still doesn't impress me in 2012.
I didn't recall book 1 having so much silly teen drama. Because books 3 through 6 are focused so much on fighting and real-life struggles outside of the school, those are the memories I carry with me. This is an extremely mature (and sexy) series for YA because of the older characters and content. So I was surprised to go back and realize that book 1 read younger and sillier than the rest of the books. It was still good. In fact, I appreciate it more now, knowing how much it set up the series, so I'm raising my rating a full star. Make no mistake though, this is the weakest book in the series. If you're unsure about book 1, keep reading because it gets INCREDIBLE from here on out. The world building in the first 30% of the original book was overwhelming imo. Initial info-dumping is one of Mead's only flaws as a writer because otherwise she is a master at getting me to care about her characters (regardless of series).
The action and adventure balances the romance excellently. I should have mentioned this earlier, but this is not a paranormal romance series. It is a high-octane Urban Fantasy. Expect adventures in every book. The sexual chemistry is just a bonus, but it doesn't choke out the fun aspect of the series.
I have no doubt now that this will stay in my top 3 series for a long time to come. Re-reading only cemented this for me.
Oh my Dimka, my Dimka...
Dimitri hovered over us, alert and ready for any threat, his body coiled to attack. I felt safe with him beside us.
In that horrible moment, with him raging like a storm, I knew why Mason had called him a god.
He regarded me with utter seriousness, like he always did. "I think you're beautiful."
"You are so beautiful, it hurts me sometimes."
Are you a fan of Richelle Mead? Come join the chat as we get ready for the release of the first VA movie : Blood Sisters!