I’ve already stated numerous times here on my blog how much I loved the Vampire Academy series. But there were so many unanswered questions at the end of the last book that even though I wasn’t ready to let go of Rose and the other characters, I immediately picked up Bloodlines just to find some answers.
Basically this is a spin-off of VA and it picks up right around where Last Sacrifice left off – with Lissa elected as queen. Bloodlines focuses on Sydney, the alchemist that Rose met in Blood Promise during her search for Dimitri. With the discovery that Jill is half Dragomir, Lissa gains full power over the Moroi court. Unfortunately, some refuse to accept her and will do what they can to remove her from the throne, including murdering the Dragomirs. As queen, Lissa is heavily guarded at all times, presenting her as a difficult target to those who wish to get rid of her, so the assassins go after Jill. Until a new law is passed which will allow Lissa to rule without the presence of living relatives, Jill needs to remain alive and safe for Lissa to hold the throne. For her safety, Jill is sent to a private human boarding school in Palm Springs, along with Eddie, Adrian and Sydney – posing as siblings – to protect her.
Okay, I have to be honest here, while I still believe that Richelle Mead is a wonderful writer, I wasn’t as impressed with this book as I was with the Vampire Academy series. Yes, it did have plenty of mystery and a decent plot, but that was about it. It lacked action, magic, romance and strong characters. I’m not saying it was horrible, just that it wasn’t really what I was expecting, especially after VA.
I suppose the main reason I didn’t enjoy this book as much as I should have is because I’m just not a huge fan of Sydney. Sure I thought the concept of Alchemists were interesting, but she never really stood out for me in Vampire Academy, so I don’t really understand why the author chose her to be the main character for Bloodlines. She was likeable enough, but she wasn’t someone I grew to love in the story. I found that as I read the book, I seriously began to miss Rose’s confidence and snarky attitude. I enjoyed reading about her because she was someone willing to take big risks for people she cared about. And the fact that she can kick major Strigoi butt definitely made me love her more. In comparison, Sydney’s character was a bit too straight-laced and (for lack of a better word) boring. She was unsure of herself and was a strict follower of rules. Even she herself acknowledged that she behaved more like a mother than a friend or “sister” to Jill and Eddie. I understand that this mainly has to do with how she was raised by her father and the Alchemist society, and I suppose this makes her a responsible role model for many young girls out there, but as a reader I still prefer reading about characters who are confident (and a bit badass). On the plus side, I did see a lot of personal growth from her in the story. As the book progressed the readers could she that she’s slowly starting to accept that not all Moroi and Dhampirs are evil creatures, and that not all magic is bad. And although she’s nowhere near as impulsive as Rose, she did take some risks in the story to uncover what was really going on with the tattoos and the mysterious Moroi deaths. I think the time away from her father and the rest of the Alchemists is doing her a lot of good, and making her question everything she’s been taught as a child. I’m hoping this will continue in the next books.
As for Jill, I didn’t like her in this book at all. It’s strange because I’ve always been fond of her in the VA, but for some reason I found her extremely annoying in Bloodlines. Sure I admired her for trying to be strong and not complaining about this whole scenario that she was suddenly forced into, but she was just so awkward and insecure throughout most of the book that it irritated me. (Like I said, I prefer confident girls over damsels in distress). But what annoyed me most was despite her awkwardness and lack of social skills, it seems as if every guy in the story is attracted to her in some way and is doing their best to protect her. How is that even possible? I mean, I would understand if she was a Spirit user or something, since they are supposed to be naturally compelling, but that’s not really the case here. She avoids contacts with humans and barely speaks to anyone, and yet these guys are suddenly falling over her. Such a mystery.
Now while I understand the lack of action in the book, seeing as Sydney is an Alchemist and not a Dhampir, I was very disappointed by the lack of romance. There was not one sweet/lovable moment between any of the characters! Not even a hug or kiss or something like that – at least not one I connected to. I admit, there were a few hints of romance here and there, but they never lasted very long. Some characters went on dates, but nothing really blew me away. I mentioned earlier that Sydney is the responsible type and she’s probably more concerned about taking care of Jill than looking for a boyfriend, and her situation isn’t really ideal for anything romantic to happen, but isn’t that what makes a good love story? When it suddenly springs up on you when you least expect it? I’m not expecting a whole chapter dedicated to love or anything, but at least give me something – a hug, a kiss, flirtatious bantering between two characters … just something.
Okay, I know I basically wrote negative stuff about the book, but it wasn’t *that* bad. It was definitely a bit of a let down after the Vampire Academy series, but I’m hoping it will get better in the next books (especially after a certain character’s appearance in the last chapter). Unfortunately, they’re not out yet so I will have to give my rating based on this book alone, and I decided to give it a 3.7 out of 5. It’s pretty low, but what do you expect after everything I had to say? I found Sydney too bland compared to Rose. I don’t particularly dislike her or anything, I just think that (for now) she lacks depth to star in her own series. In my opinion, if anyone deserved a new series it should have been Adrian, it would have given us readers an insight on how that crazy mind of his works, especially after Rose left him so broken-hearted at the end of Last Sacrifice. In fact, at some points in the story it was only my love for his character that kept me from abandoning this book.
As for the loose ends from the VA series, I’m pretty happy about how Bloodlines dealt with most of them. We can see how Adrian is trying his best to get over Rose, how Eddie’s trying to redeem himself by protecting Jill, and how Sydney’s trying to remain loyal to the Alchemists, etc. There are still some unanswered questions from the VA series – like how is Lissa taking in the fact that she has a sister, or how Christian is dealing with Tasha’s arrest, etc. We don’t really find out because these characters don’t appear in this book. New questions also come up due to recent events, like why couldn’t the Strigoi drink Sydney’s blood? Is is an Alchemist thing or what? But I think I’m pretty satisfied with how the story left off. Admittedly its not enough for me to go rushing off to get my hands on the next book in the series (The Golden Lily) as soon as it is released, but it still leaves me with enough questions to want to maybe pick up a copy when I can and see where Richelle Mead will take us next.