Reading level: Young Adult
Hardcover: 432 pages
Publish Date: August 23, 2011
From the author's website:
Blood doesn't lie...
Sydney is an alchemist, one of a group of humans who dabble in magic and serve to bridge the worlds of human and vampires. They protect vampire secrets - and human lives. When Sydney is torn from her bed in the middle of the night, at first she thinks she's still being punished for her complicated alliance with dhampir Rose Hathaway. But what unfolds is far worse. Jill Dragomir - the sister of Moroi Queen Lissa Dragomir - is in mortal danger, and the Moroi must send her into hiding. To avoid a civil war, Sydney is called upon to act as Jill's guardian and protector, posing as her roommate in the last place anyone would think to look for vampire royalty - a human boarding school in Palm Springs, California. But instead of finding safety at Amberwood Prep, Sydney discovers the drama is only just beginning...
Sydney Sage is an alchemist: a member of a "secret society" of sorts, one sworn to protect humans from vampires or any knowledge that they even exist. Right now, the vampire world is in an uproar - there's a new, young queen, Lissa Dragomir, who is tenuously hanging on to her crown, and she's bringing in changes to a system that has been in place for centuries. The queen's young half-sister, Jill, is in danger, as she is the only living relative to the queen and if she is killed Lissa will have to step down - one of the rules Lissa is trying to change is that the current ruler must have living family; they cannot be the last of their line.
Sydney is chosen to go into hiding with Jill, to "manage things" in case anything comes up; she will be posing as Jill's sister while they attend a private school in Palm Springs. Sydney is still on probation for the events that took place in Ms. Mead's other series, Vampire Academy, so she wants to do this job well to prove to the Alchemists that she's not a "vampire lover".
Things are off to a bad start though: her supervisor, Keith, hates her, Jill is acting weird and getting in trouble, and the local vampires are giving her more stress than help.
I am a huge Vampire Academy fan, it is one of my favorite YA series. I've been looking forward to Bloodlines with a little trepidation, as my reaction to the last VA book was just "meh" (I still absolutely recommend the series to anyone who hasn't read it). I should not have been worried - Richelle Mead absolutely delivers!
While Bloodlines is set in the VA world, it is a different story - where Rose is a kick-ass, take charge heroine, Sydney is more reserved. She's been raised with the belief that knowledge is power, and has been groomed since childhood to become an Alchemist. Sydney likes to think things through and be sure about it before she acts. She's also aware of the political aspects of her assignment with regards to the Alchemists, and she holds back where other UF heroines might not. This works for her though - she needs to analyze and plan and see the whole picture before acting. It does, however, make for a slow start to the book as Sydney and Jill get in and settled and Ms. Mead sets up the story. Once her investigations get going though, I spend the rest of the book guessing who the villian was - was it the obvious choice or maybe someone less obvious but with definite motivation? I was very surprised by the end of the book.
I was thrilled that the secondary characters I loved in the VA series are here; especially Adrian Ivashkov, the chain-smoking, hard-drinking royal who is in turns charming and broody. He is such a fabulous character and I loved him in Bloodlines:
I shook my head, still smiling. "You'll have a hard time getting any Alchemist to admit that. But I can say you're okay for an irreverent party boy with occasional moments of brilliance."
"Brilliant? You think I'm brilliant?" He threw his hands skyward. "You hear that, world? Sage says I'm brilliant."
"That's not what I said!"
He dropped the cigarette and stamped it out, giving me a devil-may-care grin. "Thanks for the ego boost. I'm going to go tell Clarence and Lee all about your high opinion."
"Hey, I didn't-"
But he was already gone. As I drove away, I decided the Alchemists needed an entire department devoted to handling Adrian Ivashkov.
~Bloodlines page 145
While I like Jill's character, she comes across as a wishy-washy character who doesn't figure much in the story except to provide a purpose for Sydney's assignment. She was pretty forgettable, but did come to life near the end of the story. I'm hoping her character will grow with the series.
I must also address Sydney's potential love interest. Without giving away any spoilers, I think this is going to be a long journey but ultimately a good one. I see a lot of frustration in my future waiting for Sydney to come to terms with her feelings for this particular character.
I was intrigued by Sydney in the VA series, she was a secondary character who seemed to have an interesting story, and I wanted to know more about her. In Bloodlines, we get some of her story, but you can tell there is much, much more to tell. All in all, Bloodlines is another mark in the "awesome" column for Richelle Mead! I'm looking forward to the next book, The Golden Lily, scheduled for release in June 2012.