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Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead
Review by Gayle Surrette
Razorbill Paperback  ISBN/ITEM#: 9781595141743
Date: 16 August 2007 List Price $8.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /

Rose Hathaway and Lissa Dragonir have been on their own for almost two years. They managed to escape from the school compound and now are attending public school while living in an apartment on campus. They've had some close calls but they avoided the psi-hounds and there haven't been any further attacks for a while -- but it's when you feel safe that they come for you.

Rose and Lissa find themselves back at the academy. Mead has created a rich society of Moroi (nice, non-killing vampires), Dhampir (half vampire half humans who protect the Moroi), and Strigoi (these are the Bram Stoker type vampire we're all used to). Rose is Lissa's protector. They've been raised together and since the car accident that killed Lissa's family and injured Rose; they only have each other. They also have a secret and someone seems determined to capture or kill Lissa. Rose can't allow that to happen. They take their punishment and begin the school year behind their age group.

The interactions within the society, as presented, are fairly interesting. Even in this strange society of vampires and dhampirs -- the girls don't feel at home. They are alone and don't know who to trust. Of course, all vampire societies have layers within layers of intrigue and alliances and, even in a book for young adults, the level of intrigue is multi-layered and convoluted. But then you need to learn about the rules in order to figure out what's happening and what you, the reader, think should be done. That's all aside from the usual teenage angst of friendships, rivalries, parties, and romances.

At heart though, the two girls are friends and teenagers who are trying to find themselves and each become the person they want to become, not the person that someone else wants them to be. At the same time, there are cultural forces that set limits on what they can do, who they can interact with, and how much freedom they'll have for a life of their own.

Mead tells an interesting story and keeps all her cards on the table -- even though some maybe under the napkin or the coffee cup. I thought it was going to be a piece of fluff, but it surprised me by having a bit of depth to the characters. Give it a chance, you just might have an interesting few hours.

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