Bloodlines (Bloodlines #1)
Penguin Books Australia
Copy courtesy of the publisher
Please note this series is connected to the Vampire Academy series and this review will contain ***SPOILERS*** from that series.
Sydney Sage has been in limbo since the discovery of her aiding the rebellious dhampir Rose Hathaway came to light with her Alchemist superiors. When Sydney is awoken and dragged from her bed in the middle of the night, she believes that punishment is finally coming her way.
And it does – but perhaps not in the way that she expected. Sydney is chosen (despite her father’s misgivings and that of the Alchemist posted to the region she is soon to be sent to) to be part of the team who will protect Jill Dragomir, the only living relative of the vampire Queen Vasilisa Dragomir. There has been an attack on Jill’s life and those in charge think the best thing for her would be to get her away from the Royal Court, somewhere unsuspecting, such as a boarding school in Palm Springs, California. It’s far too hot and sunny for there to be many Strigoi hanging around and Sydney is a similar age to Jill and can pose as her sister. For their added protection, they will also be getting the dhampir guardian Eddie Castile, who has been in a similar sort of limbo to Sydney…and Adrian Ivashkov. Sydney has no idea what his role is in this other than to be as idle and irritating as possible as he seeks to heal his broken heart.
A person so well trained and educated as Sydney finds herself adapting to the boarding school environment and improving her knowledge. However it is Jill that seems to be struggling, unused to the heat and sun which saps her energy and she seems to be often stricken down with a mysterious illness that puzzles Sydney because she can see no real reason for it. The environment they are in should be safe but things are never that easy. Sydney is going to have to get over her fear and aversion to being around the dhampirs and the Moroi if she is to do her job properly and restore some of her damaged reputation with the Alchemists, some of whom are already branding her a vamp lover. This could be her golden opportunity to really prove herself.
Vampire Academy might be done, but we haven’t left this world behind yet! The Bloodlines series says goodbye to Rose as our narrator and moves to Sydney Sage, the Alchemist who works to keep the humans and the non-humans (both types of vampires and the dhampirs) separate from each other. Everything the Alchemists are taught revolves around the fact that humans are natural, the others are not. Each of them have a wariness, a distaste even of the vampires and the dhampirs. In some ways, through time spent with Rose and later also Dimitri Belikov, Sydney has begun to question her feelings. However that doesn’t mean that she wants to live with one and pose as her sister although she recognises that it could be a way to regain her status. Her alliance with Rose damaged her badly and Sydney wants a way out of limbo.
After the swift pace of the Vampire Academy series, this one was a bit of a surprise in that it takes place at a much more sedate pace. Sydney is no Rose – in fact Mead has chosen a girl almost the opposite of her first narrator. Whereas Rose is tough, rebellious and impetuous, Sydney is neat, orderly, a bit of a nerd. She’s a stickler for the rules and only her complicated connection to the Moroi Abe Mazur (who is Rose’s father) tends to see her deviate from the Alchemist way of life. Sydney feels like she is a disappointment to her father, who is incredibly strict. Her younger sister was almost chosen for this job and Sydney had to think quick in order to convince her father and Keith, the Alchemist posted to Palm Springs, to send her instead. She has past history with Keith and she doesn’t want Zoe, her younger sister, anywhere near him. Although Sydney has faced down Strigoi with Rose and Dimitri previously, she’s uncomfortable around Moroi, who are totally different so she’s not the type who is going to go looking for a fight. She has some weapons available to her because of her Alchemist training but they’re mostly damage control. Her internal struggles about being friendly towards Jill, Eddie and Adrian are interesting. She finds herself liking them despite what she’s been taught, of getting past the fact that they’re not human although she still really has problems with the use of magic happening around her. At the same time, she doesn’t want to be accused of being a sympathiser or worse by the Alchemists who seem to think their job should be done without any interaction between them and any vampires or dhampirs.
There were some really interesting developments in this series, some of which I guessed. Like the first novel in the Vampire Academy series, this one is very much building the new environment and establishing the dynamics between all of the characters. Sydney and Adrian Ivashkov have some interactions that lay promising ground for what will develop between them. Adrian is still drunk half the time and he has the added character building problem of being tortured and heartbroken over Rose choosing Dimitri. For the first time I got a bit of a glimpse at the man underneath the idle facade.
I don’t think this book contains the punch that the first in the VA series did but it’s dealing with a world already firmly established. I’ve read some very mixed reviews but I think it’s always hard for people to leave behind some characters and embrace others. Sydney, as I mentioned, is not Rose. A series with her as the main protagonist is always going to be different and you need time to settle in to that and get used to the new rhythm. I quite like Sydney, I don’t particularly understand the animosity towards her by some people. I do agree however that Jill really does have far too many potential love interests in this book. She’s only fifteen – tone it down a bit!
All in all, I felt that Bloodlines delivered what I wanted – more from characters I enjoyed and a new situation that will allow people to drop in and out from the previous books. The ending was top notch – that contained more of the action I’m used to and the way in which Mead led up to that final line was masterful. Once again, I was left dying for the next book!
Book #214 of 2013