Rummanah Aasi
  One of my reading goals for last year was to finally read the popular Vampire Academy series by Richelle Mead, which I've been told by several people is a great series. I read the first book of the series, Vampire Academy, back in January and have managed to avoid writing a review until now. Why? I had reader's guilt for not liking the book, which put me in a reading slump for about a month or so before I could myself out of that hole.

Description: Two years after a horrible incident made them run away, vampire princess Lissa and her guardian-in-training Rose are found and returned to St. Vladimir's Academy, where one focuses on mastering magic, the other on physical training, while both try to avoid the perils of gossip, cliques, gruesome pranks, and sinister plots.

Review:  I really don't have to tell you that the Vampire Academy series is extremely popular. It's heralded by some as the best YA paranormal romance series featuring a great, exciting story that stars a strong female protagonist. It's even got a spin off series that is doing remarkably well on the bestseller's list.
 With all of the numerous glowing reviews I read of this book, I was expected to be blown away, to be reminded of why I ventured into the paranormal genre in the first place. My expectations were high and I was incredibly saddened when it didn't meet them. I actually felt I was either reading the wrong book or completely missed what everyone seemed to love about it. I just wasn't connecting with this book at all.
  Since the book has been reviewed by many others, I won't spend time on the plot of the story. In fact, I actually had a problem in finding the book's plot. All throughout the book, I felt like a third person listening into a conversation while Rose and Lissa talked. They were the A and B in the conversation while I saw my way out- constantly. I understood that the girls had a strong connection to one another, but hints to huge plot developments stumped me as they weren't explained at all and when they were, it was more like an afterthought. It was as if the author wrote down all the big plot points and then be told by an editor that the holes needed to be filled with explanations, except these didn't come until about 20 pages or so after the event happened. I quickly grew bored and frustrated. I even fell asleep on numerous occasions when there were action sequences.
    I know that Rose is prized amongst many readers as an incredibly strong female character. Unfortunately for me, I didn't see her that way at all. I thought Rose was abrasive, obnoxious, over-the-top, and to be completely honest a bit hypocritical. She constantly tries to defend herself from being labeled promiscuous, yet falls into random make-out sessions with guys. I didn't really find many redeeming things about her besides her strong loyalty to Lissa. Sure, she had some great snarky lines but that's about it. I know that there's a reason behind her personality, but I don't have the patience to read about it for half of the series (there are five) to find out the answer and for her to change as I've been told by other friends who enjoyed this series. Rose gave me a headache and I just wanted to put her on pause.
   As for the other characters, none of them stuck out for me. I thought they were your average paranormal romance characters- the aloof love interest with a hard exterior but with a heart of gold, the suck-up, the upper class who whines about being in the upper echelon and facing the pressure of meeting other people's expectations, etc. I did, however, find it interesting to incorporate some issues such as depression, gossip/slander within the book. Too bad these weren't expanded and dealt with in the book.
   The worst part of my reading experience is feeling guilty for not having one ounce of excitement. Guilty for falling asleep during the 'exciting' moments. Guilty for not wanting to know what happens next or heck, even look up spoilers online. Guilty for setting aside time to read all five books in this series when I had to force myself to finish the first book while desperately trying to find what made this book so popular. As I said, I felt so downtrodden that it took me a good month to get out of my slump and get back to this genre.
 So tell me, am I being too harsh? Should I give the series another shot? Have you ever had reader's guilt and if so, how did you overcome it?

Rating: 2 stars

Words of Caution: Strong language, heavy make-out scenes with some nudity, underage drinking, and disturbing scenes. Recommended for Grades 9 and up.

If you like this book try: House of Night series by P.C. and Kristin Cast, Blueblood series by Melissa DeLa Cruz, Evernight series by Claudia Gray
16 Responses
  1. Too bad this didn't work for you. I liked it right away, but I also think the series gets a lot better as it goes on. I know what you're saying as Rose. I admire her as a personality you don't see much in literature, but I wouldn't like her in real life. There's such a thing as being too strong and aggressive.


  2. Annette Says:

    I finally read the first one last year. I did enjoy it. Sorry you didn't, but I really enjoyed your review and reading your perspective. I do remember having trouble distinguishing between Rose and Lissa. I kept getting confused as to which one was which. I would like to continue the series some day, but you shouldn't apologize for not liking it. I felt the same way about the Iron Fey -- couldn't even finish the first one.


  3. Jenny Says:

    Awwww!!! I'm sorry this first book just wasn't for you:) I adore this series, but you definitely should in no way feel guilty for not liking it as much as other people do! You like what you like, and if Rose just didn't work for you, then that's that:) I will say that, in my opinion, Rose does a lot of growing as the series goes on, so you may be fonder of her in later books. That being said though, you shouldn't force yourself to read a series just because you feel like you should like it. Read what you want, and if that doesn't include VA, then that's okay:)

    I felt a little like this with The Faerie Ring by Kiki Hamilton. I just couldn't connect with that book at all despite the rave reviews it got. I started to feel guilty and then told myself to stop, I'd never felt guilty for not liking a book before I started the blog, so why feel guilty now? Don't question you're opinion Rummanah, you're more than entitled to it!


  4. No you are not being too harsh, I honestly didn't love this series at first either not until book three did it really take off for me. I found the first book and second a little boring but if you hang with it you should like it better.


  5. Chelle Says:

    "I even fell asleep on numerous occasions when there were action sequences." Tee hee. I picked this book up at a used bookstore over a year ago, read the first couple pages, and decided I wasn't that taken with it and so it sits on my shelf. I still hope to read it though.

    I had a similar reading experience with Libba Bray's "A Great and Terrible Beauty." I really wanted to like it because of all the positive buzz it gets but I just didn't like the main character. You can read my review here: http://www.theprairielibrary.com/2010/07/review-great-and-terrible-beauty-by.html


  6. Rummanah-
    Loved this! Sorry you're feeling guilty but I hated this book! I did not go past the first book. Every time I read about Lissa I felt limp and like I would pass out she felt so weak to me. And Rose, well she did seem like a skank. I know that's blasphemy in the world of YA, but I hated this book. I wouldn't waste my time feeling guilty. I'd hop onto something new. Maybe something adult since it was YA. Maybe that will get you out of your slump.

    I never feel guilty for not liking something everyone else does. We all have different tastes. It can't be helped. Maybe if we'd read it when it first came out, we'd have liked it, but that can't be helped. Go on to something else.The author has been extremely successful. She isn't going to lose any sleep over you and I not liking her series!!

    Heather


  7. Aw, it's too bad you didn't like this one, Rummanah. The Vampire Academy series is actually one of my favourite paranormal romance series.

    I don't really have reader's guilt although I do get into slumps when all I read are review books that just aren't that good. Case in point: right now. My way of getting out of those is to just read books from my bookshelf that I don't plan on reviewing at all and see how those work out.


  8. LOL! Sorry I don't mean to laugh, but I'm so familiar with that feeling of guilty for not liking a book as much as everyone else did and then it driving you to a reading slump! Happens to me more often than I care to admit.

    Rose does sound like a hypocritical character, but I can't seem to fault her for jumping into random make out sessions. LOL

    I have yet to read this series, which is strange because I love vampires and I do own the complete series, but I still plan to. Maybe Rose improves. Here's hoping.


  9. I will be the only living person left who hasn't read any of these, aren't I?

    Sorry it didn't rock for you. I think that is one reason I have put it off. So many rave reviews. With so many it almost assures it to have such high expectations that it will fall flat. I will get to it, but I think after some of the expectations die down for me.


  10. Small Review Says:

    Oh thank goodness! I haven't read this series, but part of the reason is because I just don't get vibes that this is my kind of book. I know almost everyone loves it, but...it's just not calling to me. So I'm glad to hear you voice the other side of the coin. I feel a lot more comfortable giving the series a shot now (though still not anytime soon).

    Book guilt is tough. Usually I feel overwhelmingly disappointed and even a little ashamed. Like, what did I miss?? I usually look for other negative reviews to make me feel less alone. But, at the end of the day, it is what it is and there are too many good books waiting to be read to dwell on something that just isn't working for you. :)


  11. Tina~ Says:

    OHHHHH NOOOOOOOOOO!!! I really liked this series, I think it was just guilty, brain candy reading for me. Yeah Rose was annoying sometimes but I thought it was good....a little too mature for anyone under 17 but it does get better, try book two and if it still doesn't change your mind well then pitch it out the window...:D


  12. Rubita Says:

    I started this series, lost interest and then never finished it. I had the same feelings as you--guilt and inadequacy because I wasn't as crazy about it as others seemed to be. Then I read Bloodlines, which had one particular part that offended me enough for me to sit back and finally just admit that Richelle Mead isn't the author for me. I will never be one of her fangirls. It's just not in the card for me.


  13. I love your comments, ladies! Thanks for letting me know that I'm not crazy for *not* liking this book. Like Heather said, Mead isn't going to be sad to have one or maybe a few less readers/fans.


  14. Chel Says:

    Aww I loved this series but I love the spin-off much better. I think you should read the next books because TBH, VA is actually my least favorite of them. Frostbite (the second book) is much better because there, you'll meet the most awesome character in the whole YA universe (IMO). :)


  15. I am so sorry you didn't like this, Rummanah! I'm a big fan of Dimitri... errrr, I mean the series, but I really do understand where you're coming from. Rose is a character that would normally annoy me to no end, and yet somehow, Mead made it work.
    A lot of people dislike the series, you're definitely not alone, but I certainly know what it's like to be the odd one out.
    Wonderful review!


  16. Aylee Says:

    Aww, it's too bad that you would feel guilt about not liking this one - there is not one book out there that is not going to have at least one detractor. And actually, I find myself agreeing with most of the stuff you said here. I guess I must have found it a bit more easily readable than you did to have gotten through the series, but like you I found this one to be poorly plotted and edited. And it took me a really long time to like Rose as I shared your feelings about her until maybe book 3. But yes, no need to feel guilty and no need to read on when the first book was such a painful read for you!


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