I wasn't free of my past, not yet.
Sydney's blood is special. That's because she's an alchemist - one of a group of himans who dabble in magic and serve to bridge the worls of humans and vampire. They protect vampire secrets - and human lives. But the last encounter Sydney had with vampires got her in deep trouble with the other alchemists. And now with her allegiances in question, her future is on the line.
When Sydney torn from her bed in the middle of the night, at first she thinks she's still being punished for her complicated alliance with dhampir Rose Hathaway. But what unfolds is far orse. Jill Dragomir - the sister of Moroi Queen Lissa Dragomir - is in mortal danger, and the Moroi must send her into hiding. To avoid a civil war, Sydney is called upon to act as Jill's guardian and protector, posing as her roommate in the unlikeliest of places: a human boarding school in Palm Springs, California. The last thing Sydney wants is to be accused of sympathizing with vampires. And now she has to live with one.
The Moroi court believe Jill and Sydney will be safe at Amberwood Prep, but threats, distractions, and forbidden romance lurk both outside - and within - the school grounds. Now that they're hiding, the drama is only just beginning.
Ever since I started blogging, I had heard about how wonderful the Vampire Academy series was, but I didn't actually start the books until earlier this year. Well, needless to say, I got hooked and plowed through all six books within a month. While reading the books, I found myself fascinated by all the side characters especially Sydney Sage and her Alchemist colleagues. So, when I discovered that Richelle Mead was writing a spin-off series staring Sydney, I knew I had to check it out.
As a heroine, Sydney Sage is the complete opposite of Rose Hathaway and, while that could be a deterrent for some readers, I embraced this change. Don't get me wrong...I adored Rose and Dimitri, but I enjoyed the fact that Mead chose a completely different character and personality type to focus on. Sydney is definitely a refreshing change! I find her fascinating especially how she appears to be calm and collected at all times, but hides all of her true feelings behind a near impenetrable mask. She is definitely devoted to her job, but readers can see how the events of the later Vampire Academy books have made her avoid blind loyalty to the other Alchemists. It was really entertaining to watch Sydney's growing confidence when it came to her assignment and her interactions with the Moroi.
And then there's Adrian....how I adored him in Vampire Academy. While I am a huge Rose/Dimitri shipper, I did feel for him at the end and wanted nothing but great things for him. Adrian definitely has some maturing to do, but I think this book provides a good beginning to his journey. At first, he appears not to have changed much with all the partying and smart comments, but there is a real sense of vulnerability there now that I don't think was as obvious in the earlier stories. The relationships he creates and maintains in this book seem like they will be really good for his mindset especially his brotherly relationship with young Jill Dragomir and the possibly romantic one with Sydney.
Like the Vampire Academy books, there are plenty of side characters to visit with, both old favorites and new entries. Some of the highlights for me were Eddie, Rose's dhampir friend, who seems absolutely terrified of failing in his job as a protector, and Jill, the young Moroi that is dealing with some major life changes after being revealed as the queen's only living relative. When it comes to Jill, I could see some readers being turned off by her whiny attitude, but I really felt for her. She has been unwillingly thrust into a difficult situation and is reacting to it an a fairly typical teenage way.
I also enjoyed meeting new characters like Keith, Sydney's jerky Alchemist partner, the Palm Springs Moroi that help with the mission, and all the sutdents at Amberwood Prep. It was really interesting to see Eddie, Sydney, and Jill interact with humans on a regular basis. Mead hadn't really gotten into this aspect of their world so I enjoyed that immensley.
Just like the Vampire Academy books, there is a ton of action and suspense to keep readers turning pages. The main plot follows Jill, Eddie, and Sydney as they go undercover at Amberwood Prep in an effort to keep Jill from being assassinated by her sister's political rivals. This is the overarching storyline of the series and Mead gives us a great introduction into how things may pan out in this situation. There are also two sub-plots in Bloodlines: mysterious, magical tattoos that are being all the rage at Amberwood and a serial killer who is cutting Moroi's throats and drinking them to death. I will warn potential readers that not all the major plot points are resolved by the end of the book, but I can tell that this is to insure continuity throughout the series.
Another interesting point of Bloodlines is that it gives readers an indepth look at the inner workings of the Alchemists. We were introduced to this group of humans in Blood Promise and learned about their mission to keep their species from finding out about the existence of Moroi and Strigoi. It also became obvious in the Vampire Academy series that most Alchemists hold a prejudice against all vampires and view them as unnatural. By having Sydney as the narrator, Richelle Mead is able to delve deeper into this world and show how deep these views really go. I personally was appalled at the tactics that the Alchemists used on their own and can't wait to see Sydney continue to break away from these people.
All in all, I thought this was a great start to what I'm hoping will be a fabulous spin-off series. I'm not sure how well the book will translate to newbies to the series and Mead's writings, but it is definitely a must-read for fans of Vampire Academy. I can't wait to see where Richelle Mead goes with all these new plotlines and characters.
2. The Golden Lily
3. Indigo Spell (To Be Released February 2013)
Vampire Academy (prequel series)
1. Vampire Academy
3. Shadow Kiss
4. Blood Promise
5. Spirit Bound
6. Last Sacrifice