Review: Frostbite by Richelle Mead

Review: Frostbite by Richelle MeadFrostbite by Richelle Mead
Series: Vampire Academy #2
Published by Razorbill
Pages: 336
Genres: Paranormal YA, Young Adult
Source: Purchased myself
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Also in this series: Vampire Academy, Blood Promise

It's winter break at St. Vladimir's, but Rose is feeling anything but festive. A massive Strigoi attack has put the school on high alert, and now the Academy's crawling with Guardians--including Rose's hard-hitting mother, Janine Hathaway. And if handto- hand combat with her mom wasn't bad enough, Rose's tutor Dimitri has his eye on someone else, her friend Mason's got a huge crush on her, and Rose keeps getting stuck in Lissa's head while she's making out with her boyfriend, Christian! The Strigoi are closing in, and the Academy's not taking any risks....This year, St. Vlad's annual holiday ski trip is mandatory.

But the glittering winter landscape and the posh Idaho resort only create the illusion of safety. When three friends run away in an offensive move against the deadly Strigoi, Rose must join forces with Christian to rescue them. But heroism rarely comes without a price...

Thoughts: Frostbite is a fantastic follow-up to Vampire Academy. The second book in a series is usually filled with flaws, but not in Mead’s case.  Action-packed, and emotionally gut-wrenching, this series is a definite must for YA and Vampire fans.

Rose does not have the ideal life by a long shot. Her gender and genetics give her limited options in the vampire world. Rose can’t be with the man she loves without sacrificing her best-friend, and even if she makes the “correct” choice she won’t ever have anyone of her own to love. It’s all very depressing, but she does the very best to make the most of bad circumstances.

Rose really matures in Frostbite, but not by choice. After the trauma she is put through in this book leaves her no choice but to make the “grown-up” decisions. In a way, I miss the more naive Rose from the first book, the one who looked forward to being an adult and fighting the Strigoi. Watching Rose lose that optimism was terribly tragic.

Wow, I have made this sound like the most miserable book in history. READ IT ANYWAYS. What I love about Mead is that she never introduces her characters fully formed – they always have plenty of room to develop. And watching that process? Heartbreakingly brilliant.

In retrospect, I am amazed how much Mead fit into such a small book. Compared to the rest of the Vampire Academy series, Frostbite is a sliver of a book. But so damn much happens in it! Mead deals with the epic Dimitri/Rose tragedy, Rose’s addiction to being bitten, Lissa’s ever worsening condition, the introduction of Rose’s mother, and a whole new (vaguely Chuck Bass-like) character. It’s actually quite impressive.

Bottom line? The Vampire Academy series just keeps getting better. Mead actually seems to have a plan for these characters, and I really can’t wait to see how it ends!

Review: Strange Angels by Lili St. Crow

Review: Strange Angels by Lili St. CrowStrange Angels by Lilith St. Crow
Series: Strange Angels #1
Published by Quercus Books, Razorbill
Pages: 293
Genres: Paranormal YA, Young Adult
Source: Gifted from someone with/without taste, Purchased myself
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Also in this series: Betrayals

Dru knows that The Real World - peopled with ghosts, suckers and zombies - is a frightening place. She's ready to kill first and ask questions later, so it's going to take her a while to work out just who she can trust.

Dru Anderson has been 'strange' for as long as she can remember, travelling from town to town with her father to hunt down things that go bump in the night. It's a weird life, but a good one - until in an icy, broken-down town, a hungry zombie bursts through her kitchen door. Dru is going to have to use every inch of her wit and training. Can she stay alive long enough to fall for one - or both - of the guys hungry for her affections?

The summary above sucks. It is the least spoilery one I could find (most give away the first half of the book). But it paints Dru in completely the wrong light. I mean, sure, she is capable of kicking ass – but she is not kick-ass. They made Dru sound like Rose from Vampire Academy – and she is so NOT ROSE.

A better summary? You know the show Supernatural? Well, imagine a less-cocky, teenage, girl!Dean – without the baby brother – hunting evil around the US with his Dad. There you have (at least the start) of Strange Angels.

Thoughts: Strange Angels is a really great addition to the YA Paranormal scene. Lili St. Crow paints a much more realistic picture of a teen living in an unreal world. Although absent, Dru’s parents play a big role in her life – and both they (and her safety) trump whatever guy she is supposed to mooning after. Strange Angels is violent, tragic, and really enjoyable – although it does go downhill towards the end.

I loved the first half of this book.  But in it, Dru is miserable – I mean, I’m-almost-an-alcoholic-teenager!miserable – and her world thoroughly sucks. Despite the temptation to just curl up and die, she is trying desperately to plough through the misery. It was amazing to read, even though it was utterly tragic. Really made me appreciate her strength. I also loved her inner Dad!voice. She would constantly think of what her Dad would say or do in a particular situation (which often involved killing things).  It made me love the guy without ever spending that much time with him.

Graves, the first boy she meets in this book – well, he’s ok. I haven’t quite worked out if I really like him, but I do appreciate how much he helps Dru. Graves has had a really hard-knock life – hell, the guy is practically homeless – but has amazingly managed to keep his head above water. I’d like to find out even more about his background in Betrayals.

Mid-way through the book, we are introduced to Christophe. He is tough, scary and not-so-human… and yeah, I really liked him! But as soon as Christophe came into the picture, Dru started to edge into the too-stupid-to-live category. There was one particular scene where Dru refused to do something for no apparent reason. I mean, it shouldn’t even have been an issue, but Dru decides it is the perfect reason to pitch a fit – and it completely blows up in her face. It was really frustrating, and I wanted to just reach through the book and shake her! (Although Graves I wanted to smack, as he agreed with her insanity.)

The last half? – maybe 3 stars. But the first half was just so great (well, actually it was miserable, but a great read) that I had to keep the rating up. I am looking forward to Betrayals and have a feeling Dru will straighten her head out a bit in that book… I am also looking forward to more Christophe!

Bottom Line? A great addition to the YA Paranormal Scene.  If you are a fan of the Morganville series then this will be up your alley!

I read this for the Battle Royale New Author Mini-ChallengeTeam Deadline Dames!

Review: Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead

Review: Vampire Academy by Richelle MeadVampire Academy by Richelle Mead
Series: Vampire Academy #1
Published by Razorbill
Pages: 331
Genres: Paranormal YA, Young Adult
Source: Purchased myself
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Also in this series: Frostbite, Blood Promise

St. Vladimir's Academy isn't just any boarding school--it's a hidden place where vampires are educated in the ways of magic and half-human teens train to protect them. Rose Hathaway is a Dhampir, a bodyguard for her best friend Lissa, a Moroi Vampire Princess. They've been on the run, but now they're being dragged back to St. Vladimir's - the very place where they're most in danger...

Rose and Lissa become enmeshed in forbidden romance, the Academy's ruthless social scene, and unspeakable nighttime rituals. But they must be careful lest the Strigoi - the world's fiercest and most dangerous vampires - make Lissa one of them forever.

Thoughts: This is – truly – a brilliant book. I had thought all the hype around it was over-the-top… I was so wrong.

Vampire Academy is not like most YA novels – hell, like any novel I’ve read. Although there is plenty of teenage realism – mean girls, cliques, and inappropriate kissage – the characters are at the same time very, very different to us. What we consider normal is not what they do – and where we place our priorities also differs from them. It’s odd, to not agree with a character but still understand them.

In fact, there was a lot of that in this book. Our main character, Rose, is exactly what I wasn’t in high school. She flirts with everyone, goes out partying all the time, and makes out with guys she doesn’t even care about – just for the thrill. This reckless edge does settle itself a bit in Vampire Academy, but it is still there even when she is behaving. You could say she is of the “punch first, ask questions later” variety. And even though I don’t personally understand this, I understand her.

It’s weird.

Another really unique feature of Vampire Academy was the relationship between BFFs Lissa and Rose. You get this right from the start as Mead opens with a scene of the two of them. Although I literally swooned over both Dimitri and Christian, the Lissa/Rose bond was by far the strongest in the book.

The vampire universe also had a really nice twist to it. Mead managed to incorporate all sorts of issues – politics, drug abuse, and social class – into the verse without it seeming too contrived. She also managed to work in discussion about mental illness – which was an unexpected surprise. It is something I am very sensitive about, and I really appreciate authors who make an effort to get things right when they include it.

Bottom line? An amazing, addictive read. Mead creates gives a unique twist on vampires, and creates kick-ass characters to boot. Even if you are not a YA fan, go get yourself a copy!

This was the my (and final) read for the brilliant League of Reluctant Adults Mini-Challenge hosted over at Literary Escapism.  It’s been really fun – and I plan to do a little a wrap-up post to celebrate. ♥

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