Review: Bloodlines by Richelle Mead

Series: Bloodlines #1

bloodlines -richelle meadI wasn’t free of my past, not yet.

Sydney’s blood is special. That’s because she’s an alchemist – one of a group of humans who dabble in magic and serve to bridge the worlds of humans and vampires. They protect vampire secrets – and human lives. But the last encounter Sydney had with vampires got her in deep trouble with the other alchemists. And now with her allegiences in question, her future is on the line.

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 unlikeliest of places: a human boarding school in Palm Springs, California. The last thing Sydney wants is to be accused of sympathizing with vampires. And now she has to live with one.

The Moroi court believe Jill and Sydney will be safe at Amberwood Prep, but threats, distractions, and forbidden romance lurk both outside – and within – the school grounds. Now that they’re in hiding, the drama is only just beginning.

3.5 Drink Me Potions

Sydney is unlike a lot of protagonists I have the pleasure of following around in a long series. She’s brilliantly smart, yet tries to dumb her knowledge down when it seems to bother people around her, and attentive to what others need. She truly cares for people, which is the root cause of her problems.

Because vampires, even half-vampires, are not technically considered “people” to the Alchemists.

It’s forbidden to even like them, let alone associate with them, yet her job forces her to live with them. Of course, she doesn’t fight or argue with her superiors about any of the things they demand of her. She sounds like a mighty pushover, but that’s because she was raised that way by a tyrant for a father.

This story could simply be another human falling for the charms of a vampire. But, to be honest, that is remotely nothing like what Bloodlines is about. It’s about honour and duty and finding that thin balance between caring for her charge, a vampire princess, while maintaining a professional distance. In fact, there really is NO romance in this story for Sydney. It’s strange as most stories seem to love the romance angle, but it doesn’t really take in the first installment of the series. And it works even better that way.

There are so many things happening in the plot. From dealing with the craziness of human high school while watching over a bunch of vampires in hiding, to Alchemist-like tattoos surfacing on humans and dealing with the ever-annoying Alchemist co-worker of hers, Sydney has WAY too much on her plate to consider romance into it. There’s definitely plenty of intrigue and mystery going on that needs to be solved to keep a reader happily reading.

Also, the characters are all a wonderful group. Besides Sydney, each and every vampire “family” member she’s taking care of has such unique personalities. Adrian’s laidback and the typical party boy but there are moments where I really wonder what his true story is. Given, I haven’t read a ton of the the Vampire Academy series yet, so there may be more to him there. Eddie, a dhampir, is charming and protective. Jill can be stubborn sometimes, but she learns to work it out with her new situation. If it’s so easy for me to love them, you can see why it’s so easy for Sydney to as well.

I could go on about this story, but that’d be way too long of a review. I love the idea of the Alchemist group. It’s so unique and fascinating, intermingling their stories with the vampires. A group of humans dedicated to keeping the vampires a secret from humans for their safety? Totally cool and can go in so many ways. Especially ’cause they consider vampires as unnatural and…well, evil. Let’s just say I can’t wait to finish this series (thankfully they’re all out now), and see where all the foundation and groundwork Mead put in goes. I couldn’t stop reading. Finished it in one day.

By the way, that ending? Didn’t quite see the culprit coming. Although I really should have what with all the mysteries I read. That’s a big compliment.

Overall Recommendation:
Although the vampire genre has really been overdone by this point, this new series following Sydney, an Alchemist, is a far cry from anything I’ve seen yet. Mixed heavily with the chaos of having to protecting a vampire princess from harm while keeping her distance from them, both physically and emotionally, is already hard, but add in a mysterious Alchemist-tattooing parlour and human manifestations of magic, Sydney really has it coming for her. There are so many problems she has face, although the hardest ones are the ones dealing with the fundamental Alchemist teachings she now sees in a different light. Balancing her duty with her genuine care for these “unholy creatures” is definitely gonna come back and bite her. Richelle Mead’s newer series may very well be more exciting than the Vampire Academy series.

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