Review: Vampire Academy: The Graphic Novel by Richelle Mead and Emma Vieceli

Review: Vampire Academy: The Graphic Novel by Richelle Mead and Emma VieceliVampire Academy: The Graphic Novel by Emma Vieceli, Richelle Mead
Series: Vampire Academy: The Graphic Novel #1
Published by Razorbill
Pages: 144
Genres: Graphic Novels, Young Adult
Source: Received for review from publishers
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After two years on the run, best friends Rose and Lissa are caught and returned to St. Vladimir’s Academy, a private high school for vampires and half-bloods. It’s filled with intrigue, danger—and even romance.

Enter their dark, fascinating world through a new series of 144-page full-color graphic novels. The entire first Vampire Academy novel has been adapted for book one by Leigh Dragoon and overseen by Richelle Mead, while the beautiful art of acclaimed British illustrator Emma Vieceli brings the story to life.

Thoughts: This book was my first graphic novel – ever.*  So I can’t tell you how Vampire Academy: The Graphic Novel compares to other graphic novels out there, but I sure as hell can tell you that I enjoyed it.

I loved Vampire Academy (review) when I read it way back in 2010, and this graphic novel was the perfect way for me to revisit the book. It reminded me of how much I loved the characters and how completely enthralled I was in their world. The artwork has the right mixture of hard and soft – I never felt like I was reading some sort of anime, but neither did it feel like a child’s book. I hated the artwork in the Twilight graphic novel adaptation and this was (luckily) nothing like.

I was also surprised by how much of the book made it into the graphic novel. I’d thought that, rather like a movie adaptation, quite a lot of plot would have to be sacrificed in order to make this graphic novel. I was wrong! All of my favourite scenes are in it, as well as a few I’d forgotten about.

Since reading the first book in the Vampire Academy series, I struggled to finish the series. Not because the later books are bad, but because I was spoiled and it made the journey to the conclusion non-exquisite torture! But this graphic novel was a perfect way for me to wet my toes in the Vampire Academy world without worrying about what comes next.

Bottom line? A must-have for fans of the series. I am definitely going to be getting the adaptation of Frostbite and hope the publishers make the entire series into graphic novels!

* OK, I read Mercy Thompson: Homecoming a few years ago, but it was so short and I doubt it would count.

Review: Matched by Ally Condie

Review: Matched by Ally CondieMatched by Ally Condie
Series: Matched #1
Published by Razorbill
Pages: 366
Genres: Dystopian YA, Young Adult
Source: Received for review from publishers
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Cassia has always trusted the Society to make the right choices for her: what to read, what to watch, what to believe. So when Xander's face appears on-screen at her Matching ceremony, Cassia knows with complete certainty that he is her ideal mate... until she sees Ky Markham's face flash for an instant before the screen fades to black.

The Society tells her it's a glitch, a rare malfunction, and that she should focus on the happy life she's destined to lead with Xander. But Cassia can't stop thinking about Ky, and as they slowly fall in love, Cassia begins to doubt the Society's infallibility and is faced with an impossible choice: between Xander and Ky, between the only life she's known and a path that no one else has dared to follow.

Thoughts: Matched is one of those books suffering from so-much-hype-I-don’t-want-to-read-it syndrome. Every blogger out there has raved about the book, and as a result it took me a year to pick it up. Call it reverse psychology or whatever. But with the release of the sequel Crossed coming up, I knew I had to give Matched a shot. And – surprisingly – it lived up to the hype!

At its core, Matched is a romance novel. But like all good romantic stories, it is about so much more than just the romance. Its main message is an age-old one: Do not go gentle into that good night. The protagonist, Cassia, goes from being a girl who embraces the status quo to being a girl who refuses to give in. It is quite a dramatic change and the cause of the change is not just her newfound romance. There is a loss in her family, she has the things most precious to her taken away, and there are threats made against her two lovely parents. And, above all, there is the poetry. The beautiful, illegal poetry that tell her to not go gentle. It’s a message that resounded with me, and I think will certainly speak to teens.

Moving on to the characters – I can wholeheartedly say that I enjoyed them all. Both love interests were fantastic (a real coup for a teen novel). They were gentle, kind, and smart – they didn’t necessarily make you swoon, but they did fill me with the overwhelming urge to keep them safe. Safe, you ask? Well, while Matched is a very sedate dystopian novel (there aren’t people running about with guns and cattle prods), there is a danger present in the book that was just a scary as actual violence. The Society expressed their power subtly, by reducing your food portions or cutting down your trees. It wasn’t overt but it was constant. The effect was extremely unnerving.

I also enjoyed the integral role Cassia’s family played in the novel. Her parents were wonderful, supportive people, and her relationship with them was one of the healthiest I have ever seen in a YA novel. It was refreshing to read – especially since most teenagers actually do have good relationships with their parents!

My only complaint would be Cassia. While I didn’t dislike her, I found her to be rather bland. Every other character I felt something for, but Cassia felt like a blank slate for the reader to place themselves into the novel. Not necessarily a bad thing, but it kept me from truly connecting with the novel. Shame.

Bottom line? Matched was an extremely enjoyable dystopian novel. It’s the perfect book for people who wanted more romance in their Hunger Games!

Review: The Eternal Ones by Kirsten Miller

Review: The Eternal Ones by Kirsten MillerThe Eternal Ones by Kirsten Miller
Series: The Eternal Ones #1
Published by Razorbill
Pages: 410
Genres: Paranormal YA, Young Adult
Source: Purchased myself
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Haven Moore can’t control her visions of a past with a boy called Ethan, and a life in New York that ended in fiery tragedy. In our present, she designs beautiful dresses for her classmates with her best friend Beau. Dressmaking keeps her sane, since she lives with her widowed and heartbroken mother in her tyrannical grandmother’s house in Snope City, a tiny town in Tennessee. Then an impossible group of coincidences conspire to force her to flee to New York, to discover who she is, and who she was.

In New York, Haven meets Iain Morrow and is swept into an epic love affair that feels both deeply fated and terribly dangerous. Iain is suspected of murdering a rock star and Haven wonders, could he have murdered her in a past life? She visits the Ouroboros Society and discovers a murky world of reincarnation that stretches across millennia. Haven must discover the secrets hidden in her past lives, and loves, before all is lost and the cycle begins again.

Thoughts: The Eternal Ones started off extremely well. It took an inherently cheesy stereotype (lovers through time), and made it not just entertaining but believable. The author gets rid of all the far-too-convenient logistics of having visions from a past life: they don’t start as a teen, but as a child; Haven doesn’t hide them from her family, because they result in violent outbursts; Haven doesn’t immediately think they’re real, because the entire town believes she’s possessed by the devil (that is, except the Penecostals up the road). It’s a brilliant idea: a young girl hated by Born Again Christians who was – literally – born again.

So, yeah. Everything started off well. Sure, the main character had a tendency to change her mind every few minutes, but hey, she had a traumatic childhood.

But then she ups and moves to New York to stalk a rich playboy, and the entire novel falls into a deep, dark well of I-can’t-believe-someone-wrote-this-crap terrible.

And to think, it started off so well.

The rest of the book revolves around Haven going back and forth between being completely and utterly in love with Ethan/Iain (the aforementioned playboy), and being convinced that he is a lying, murdering, cheating ass. Now, if you were to ask – say – any normal person, they would tell you that these two beliefs cannot exist simultaneously. If you believe the man you met two days before is out to kill you, then you do not decide to sleep with him “one last time”. You wouldn’t be convinced by a couple of well-delivered excuses and you sure as hell wouldn’t stay in his house. Or, if you are certain that the world is just trying to frame the man you love for crimes he never committed, then you don’t go around taking the word of a stranger over his!

Over a 20-page period, Haven went from convinced Ethan/Iain was trying to kill her, then back to believing that he was her eternal soulmate who would never lie to her, until finally deciding that, actually, she might have fallen in love with the wrong guy. Seriously? Seriously?

While Haven’s flip-flopping emotions were my biggest issue with this book, there were a whole bunch of other problems in it. The underlying “mystery” was an flat as a pancake (not to mention, completely illogical), the secondary characters were 10 kinds of stereotypical, and the villain was utterly deranged (but not in that cool, Disney!villain sort of way).

Bottom line? Don’t read this – the illogic will hurt your brain.

Review: Blood Promise by Richelle Mead

Review: Blood Promise by Richelle MeadBlood Promise by Richelle Mead
Series: Vampire Academy #4
Published by Razorbill on August 25th 2009
Pages: 503
Genres: Paranormal YA, Young Adult
Source: Purchased myself
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Also in this series: Vampire Academy, Frostbite

How far will Rose go to keep her promise?

The recent Strigoi attack at St. Vladimir’s Academy was the deadliest ever in the school’s history, claiming the lives of Moroi students, teachers, and guardians alike. Even worse, the Strigoi took some of their victims with them. . . including Dimitri.

He’d rather die than be one of them, and now Rose must abandon her best friend, Lissa—the one she has sworn to protect no matter what—and keep the promise Dimitri begged her to make long ago. But with everything at stake, how can she possibly destroy the person she loves most?

Thoughts: Richelle Mead is one of those authors that makes you desperate for a conclusion. So, I’ll just come out and admit it… I read spoilers for Blood Promise before I’d even read Shadow Kissed (which, FYI, broke my heart into so many ickle pieces, I couldn’t deal enough to write a review). I knew what was going to happen before I picked up both books – and I have a pretty clear idea about the last two books in the series as well. I just had to know. Emotionally, I just wouldn’t have made it through this series without some warning of what was ahead.

So, despite having a pretty fair idea what would happen in this book, it still blew me away. I wondered how far Mead could take vigilante!Rose. I mean, the book is over 400 pages long and there’s only so much angst a girl can handle. But as Rose makes her way through Russia, Mead takes the opportunity to introduce some fabulous new characters: including Sydney, who will be the star of the spin-off series.

Along with the painful Dimitri/Rose action – which kept a lump in my throat the whole time – there are about a dozen new plot lines that pop up in Blood Promise. For one thing, we got a look at a very different Moroi/Dhamphir society – the one Dimitri was raised in, and boy does that ever explain him. We also got a whole new insight into the twisted world of Strigolis, and introduced to a whole new branch of supernatural none of us had even known about. I adored all the new intrigue. When it really comes down to it, the Vampire Academy is all plot plot plot and it’s fantastic.

On top of that, Rose went through some extraordinarily terrifying things in this book. Seriously, there’s death and torture and blood and prostitutes. It’s not stuff for weaklings, and even knowing how everything could turn out did not comfort me! Rose proved to be stronger than I think humanly possible. I couldn’t help but be proud of this girl for keeping herself together, both physically and mentally.

On the less-positive side… I still don’t see what Rose sees in Lissa. I find her rather bland and continue to only be interested in her because of her friendship with our leading lady. I also don’t get the fuss over Adrian. He seems a perfectly all right guy, but that’s it. I guess he’s a great rebound… but I found his woe-is-me business is extremely unattractive.

Bottom line?  I loved this book for its angsty, plotty goodness.  In case you haven’t heard, the Vampire Academy series is a Must. Read.

Review: Betrayals by Lili St. Crow

Review: Betrayals by Lili St. CrowBetrayals by Lilith St. Crow
Series: Strange Angels #2
Published by Quercus Books, Razorbill
Pages: 308
Genres: Paranormal YA, Young Adult
Source: Purchased myself
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Also in this series: Strange Angels

Poor Dru Anderson. Her parents are long gone, her best friend is a werewolf, and she’s just learned that the blood flowing through her veins isn’t entirely human. (So what else is new?)

Now Dru is stuck at a secret New England School for other teens like her, and there’s a big problem— she’s the only girl in the place. A school full of cute boys wouldn’t be so bad, but Dru’s killer instinct says that one of them wants her dead. And with all eyes on her, discovering a traitor within the Order could mean a lot more than social suicide. . .

Can Dru survive long enough to find out who has betrayed her trust — and maybe even her heart?

Thoughts: I have such mixed feelings about the Strange Angels series. Don’t get me wrong, I love the books. Dru is probably the most depressing teenager ever, but her stubbornness and strength are really inspiring. I love how she is still grieving her father’s death from the first book – and her mother’s death as a child. I love the universe, filled with werewolves, dhampirs and vampires constantly at each other’s throats.

St. Crow’s universe is violent and gothic, and utterly immersive. I read this book in a single day – I just couldn’t put it down.  We learn so much more about the dangers Dru is facing – from enemies she didn’t even know she had. We also find out a lot more about her troubling new powers, how Graves is dealing with his new transformation and we get a bit of Christophe’s fascinating background.

But I have some trouble with the love triangle. When it comes to the whole Graves/Dru/Christophe thing, I have a feeling that I’m on the losing side of the love triangle a.k.a. the “I don’t want to see Dru with either of them” side.

Okay, sure, if I had to choose: Team Christophe all the way. But that’s because I find him hot – seriously hot – and not because I think he is right for Dru. As for Graves, I really have trouble seeing him as anything more than just a friend. A totally awesome friend, but just a friend.

Unfortunately the non-epic romance and the shortage of Christophe meant Betrayals lost the edge that Strange Angels had. Nevertheless, I can’t wait to read Jealousy (which has an epically terrible cover) and hope to get some bloody answers in it!

Bottom line? Filled with supernatural violence, a grieving teen, and a serious ammount of political intrigue – Betrayals is a great book. And hopefully you’ll find yourself choosing sides in the romance – I’m sure the book is more enjoyable when you aren’t trying to fasten a chastity belt onto the heroine.

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