Bloodlines by Richelle Mead
Published: 25th August 2011 (UK)
Publisher: Puffin (UK)
When alchemist Sydney is ordered into hiding to protect the life of Moroi princess Jill Dragomir, the last place she expects to be sent is a human private school in Palm Springs, California. But at their new school, the drama is only just beginning.
Populated with new faces as well as familiar ones, Bloodlines explores all the friendship, romance, battles and betrayals that made the #1 New York Times bestselling Vampire Academy series so addictive - this time in a part-vampire, part-human setting where the stakes are even higher and everyone's out for blood.
I adore the Vampire Academy series, so when I heard about a spin off I was ridiculously excited. Adrian and Sydney are probably my 2 favourite VA characters (with Christian coming in a close 3rd) so I wasn't disappointed that the books revolved around them. Sydney is a great narrator, her character is endearing but prickly and a little bit stuck up, all of which makes her very realistic. It was wonderful to see her grow more in this book and come out of her shell a little. Adrian was of course still broken from the events of Last Sacrifice (don't think I'll ever forgive Richelle for that) but he grew steadily too, embracing life again and becoming a little bit more grown up. It was wonderful to see more of Jill too, but I'll be honest and say I can take or leave Eddie.
So for me, the characters were fantastic, but the plot really let the book down. It was an intriguing concept, but badly, badly executed. What I've always loved about Richelle's writing is her ability to really knock you for six with plot twists and villains you didn't expect, and that aspect was severely lacking in this plot. The characters were so obvious, there were too many heavy-handed hints that pretty much gave the game away and their motivations were a bit more superficial than we're used to from Richelle.
I can't lie, I was disappointed with the main storyline. Some of the sideplots however were slightly better, there was one or two things I didn't expect, and the last 50 or so pages of the book were really good. I will definitely be reading the next one, but I can't help but feel let down by the writing style of this book, as I feel if it had been done a bit more carefully the plot would not have been so easy to figure out. I love the potential romances blossoming here, one in particular, and I loved the introduction of a character I never thought we'd see again, and of a factor that will inevitably cause a lot of tension in the next installment.
I was going to give this a 3, but I did really enjoy the end and I think the nostalgia value of the familiar characters helped too, so for me it's a low 4/5