Bloodlines by Richelle Mead – Advance Review

Book Jacket:

Blood doesn’t lie…

Sydney is an alchemist, one of a group of humans who dabble in magic and serve to bridge the worlds of human and vampires. They protect vampire secrets – and human lives. When Sydney is 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 worse. 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 last place anyone would think to look for vampire royalty – a human boarding school in Palm Springs, California. But instead of finding safety at Amberwood Prep, Sydney discovers the drama is only just beginning…

You can read an excerpt here.


Oh boy. For the Vampire Academy fans, this is going to be one polarizing book.

So who’s going to be happy? That would be the Adrian fans. If you’ve just got a thing for that damaged, smart-ass hottie from the last series, you can sit back, relax, and enjoy his copious page time. Adrian is very much in the spotlight here, hitting all his cues.

If, however, you loved the Vampire Academy series because of Rose and that snarky, indomitable way she has about her, well, you’re going to have a rougher go of it. I didn’t mind Sydney taking the narrative reins – I’m glad Mead decided to approach her vampire world from a different perspective, and I like the tantalizing mystery the alchemists present – but if you’re going to compare Rose and Sydney, Rose is going to win every time, for wit, verve, and all around likability. Sydney is just more internal, more analytical, and less kick ass – but I did find myself interested in her story. I was very caught up with her family situation, her relationships with her Dad and sister, and the political situation she finds herself in, being tarred by her association with vampires, and it was enough of a hook to pull me through this book and on to the next.

But I also think Bloodlines in many ways does Sydney a disservice, in that I think her character is getting unfairly blamed for what’s wrong with the book – and there is plenty here that taxed me. First off, the vampires of this story generally drove me nuts. Jill, who I liked fine from the first series, basically dissolves into a puddle of uselessness, whines constantly about her situation, and gets downright STUPID about her romantic endeavors (I found myself almost rooting for her to die). Adrian wallows constantly in self-pity and does more than his fair share of whining, and Eddie is pretty much strong, silent, and colorless the entire story. Sydney is so mired in this quagmire of irritating characters that she really has nothing to work with –  though there is one particularly wonderful scene where she finally loses it and calls Adrian on all his BS.

In terms of plot, this book also just lacks the vitality, danger, and drive of the previous series. I liked the things Sydney had to figure out, and where they led her, but there was far, FAR too much high school inanity crammed in between the actually interesting parts, and there were a few glaringly obvious things that it felt like Sydney was kept from figuring out purely for plot convenience. And there is one thing I’m actually kind of mad was in this book at all – it’s SUCH a repeat of the first series. Really my favorite parts of this book were when Sydney was off on her own, doing Alchemist-y things, and there just weren’t enough of them. The bad guy was telegraphed, and the plot stalled far too regularly – all around I’d have to rate it a resounding meh, though there are some nice action and suspense beats towards the end. All in all, I expect more from Richelle Mead than this.

As for the romantic side of things, I’d have to give it an all around shoulder-shrug. I wasn’t convinced, on any front – I didn’t mind any of it, but I didn’t really go for it either – yet I am willing to see where it all goes.

So, Bloodlines, what to make of you? I did read through you quickly, though you irritated me, and on some level you did succeed – I do want to see what Sydney gets up to next. I like the potential here, but I definitely won’t be running out to buy the second book in this series. I think I speak for all Vampire Academy fans when I say – hopefully it will only get better from here.

Byrt Grade: B

As Levar Burton used to say – you don’t have to take my word for it…

Good Books and Good Wine says:

I will say that Bloodlines absolutely has that first in a series feel to it. I thought it was all exposition. There’s a larger problem presented at the beginning that never gets solved, and it’s obvious we will have to wait til the second book. I don’t have a problem with that, however, I feel like Bloodlines isn’t able to stand on it’s own. However, I bet as part of the larger picture it is fine…While Bloodlines wasn’t on par with Vampire Academy, I think there is definite room for improvement. I found Bloodlines enjoyable and compulsively readable, but we never clicked in the omgwtfbbqBFF4life sort of way.

Wendy Darling on Goodreads says:

Other problems included a self-centered, whiny Jill (if you thought Lissa was annoying, wait until you spend time with her sister!), three boys who are into Jill (although why there’s even one is beyond me), a mopey Adrian (it’s incredibly disappointing to see so little meaningful time spent with one of my favorite characters, although he’s technically always there), a villain that’s all too easy to spot, and above all, supremely uninteresting plots and subplots. Have we really resorted to juvenile “Oh noes, where is Jill? She’s been sneaking out to see her boyfriend!” and “Let’s switch Jill’s P.E. period so she doesn’t get burned by the unfriendly sun!” and “Sweet heaven, will pretty pretty princess Jill get to participate in the fashion show???” type plots in the Vampire Academy world? Really?

A Thousand Little Pages says:

Bloodlines failed to impress me as much as its predecessors did. You notice right away that the Alchemist Sydney, who has now inherited the important job as narrator, lacks the sarcasm and attitude that characterizes Rose. This naturally causes the reading to seem a bit dryer and less humorous. I’m being petty here, as the character Sydney is supposed to be serious and obedient, but this little observation did contribute to a lower rating than the standard 4-stars I’ve been giving the rest of the Vampire Academy series. It’s hard not comparing the two.