Cyndy Otty's Reviews > Bloodlines

Bloodlines by Richelle Mead
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Dec 29, 2010

liked it
bookshelves: young-adult
Recommended to Cyndy by: Richelle Mead

I've become quite cynical of spinoffs because they generally don't live up to their original source. Being quite fond of the Vampire Academy series, I was very wary of this new series. This was only compounded by the news that books would be told via Sydney rather than in the third-person as was originally planned. Obviously, since her story is completed Rose is no longer an option to narrate, but I wasn't convinced Sydney would be interesting enough and I hadn't found her particularly likable in her previous appearances. Mostly, I was apprehensive because of the many dangling plot points from Last Sacrifice, which at the time of my initial read felt almost arbitrary. I try to approach every book individually and without any preconceived notions or expectations, but honestly the simple fact is that this book had a lot to live up to for me.

As it's only the first book, I can't say that Bloodlines has or will surpass VA, but I think it's a worthy followup. More importantly, it picks up those loose threads from Last Sacrifice in such a seamless way that I actually want to read the VA conclusion again just to see if I still find those lingering plot points as jarring as they initially came across to me. My one quibble is that it's such an easy transition into this new series that I wonder how accessible it would be to someone that isn't already invested in the prior series. No matter how much I adore the series, it's hard to recommend a book that requires so much advance reading. The biggest surprise for me was how smoothly Sydney's narration comes across. Mead's explanation sums up the differences between the two perspectives quite well:

[Sydney] gives us a human take on the Moroi world, which isn’t something we’ve really seen yet. Vampire life, through Rose’s eyes, is a very normal thing. For Sydney? Not so. It’s made worse because she’s been raised to believe vampires and dhampirs are wrong and unnatural, but spending time with them in Palm Springs begins to change her mind . . . What’s also interesting is that Sydney has a much more analytic view of the world than Rose. Sydney overthinks where Rose rushes in, and both styles are fun to watch. Sydney’s super smart and can memorize reams of material—but is a little oblivious to how a normal social life works.

I expected a bit of an adjustment to Sydney as the narrator. Her prior appearances via Rose's perspective made her seem very standoffish, almost snobby at times. In comparison to Rose's effervescent personality this came across as a bit cold. (I concede that I may have interpreted that incorrectly and it's yet another reason I'm curious to do a reread of the original series.) Through her narration, Sydney reveals a different person than that and even shows us why it is she acts as she does. It's also thoroughly entertaining to see someone else's view of Rose! By the end of the book I was totally smitten with her and I'm deeply curious to see how things unfold for her throughout the series.

Beyond my initial qualms my feelings are somewhat conflicted. I'm inclined to think I almost psyched myself out of fully enjoying the book because of my expectations much as I tried to ignore them. The one comparison I can't help but notice is that the story itself is much less driven, almost weak, than the typical VA book. I missed that sense of urgency that the prior books had and found myself wishing that someone would pull a Rose and just randomly punch someone to get things going. That isn't to say I was exactly pining for action, but when it finally does surface -- practically at the end of the book -- it's present in such a blasé fashion that it was like seeing the scene through a film of water. It also seemed far too obvious right from the start and so I found myself slightly irritated that things didn't click into place for so very long. Even when Sydney started piecing things together there was no momentum to the story, in fact she actually stalled the plot a bit by sitting on her discovery! I also found it very hard to keep track of time. What felt like days, even weeks, was described as happening in the span of a week. Specifically, I can't believe that in this economy a person could find three job interviews in (I think?) a day and moreover have them scheduled in the same day. And, while it's only a little thing in the book, I'm absolutely disgusted with the hang up Sydney has over having to wear size 4 clothes -- and that she mentions needing to diet her way back to a size 2. Not at all what I'd expect from Ms. Mead. Very disappointing.

What saves all this from a complete downward spiral is that the characters that take center stage in this new series are almost as fascinating as Rose and Lissa. It's a different view of the Moroi world in several ways. As I mentioned before, Sydney gives us an "outsider" view, but in their own way each of the four is kind of on the outskirts. In fact, the entire location of the book puts them outside of the goings-on of the Moroi. It's a completely different dynamic than the first series and it's the perfect venue for these characters. Adrian has never been much of a draw for me, but he's started to pique my curiosity. Personally, I'm most intrigued with Eddie and where his story will go.

In the end what it all comes down to is that I don't really know how I feel. I enjoyed the book, but I'm not entirely sure if that feeling isn't colored by my relief that my wariness was unfounded or my previous love of the original series. I do feel a bit letdown by some small elements, but I think they're minor enough to be forgivable. So, for what it's worth, I'm reserving final judgment until I read a bit further into the series.

[Originally posted at my website.]

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Comments (showing 1-2)

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Lady Ozma SCHAWEEEET! Thanks for the recommend!

Cyndy Otty Lady Ozma wrote: "SCHAWEEEET! Thanks for the recommend!"

Indeed! And you're quite welcome. ;-)

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