Last night I finished Bloodlines by Richelle Mead, the first book in a new series which is a spinoff of Vampire Academy. It was published in 2011, and to this date it is followed by 3 books. If you guys read the post I wrote about VA, you'll know that the reason I loved those books was because of the characters. I wasn't quite sure about reading this new spinoff series, but I asked on tumblr & quite a few people got back to me telling me I should! & when I discovered that it was centered around my favourite character, the alchemist Sydney Sage, I just had to give it a go. There is so much mystery about her I just needed to know more! In this short review I will be quite vague in some areas as to not spoil it for anyone, and so although I mention the main plot, I will not be talking about the sub-plots and other aspects of the story, so those who wish to read it can keep an open mind. This short post is just a general overview of the book, allowing me to share my personal thoughts and impressions.
Sydney Sage, who first appeared in Blood Promise, then Spirit Bound & Last Sacrifice, has helped Rose and her friends numerous times. After her involvement with them in Last Sacrifice, she is now on bad terms with the alchemists, who claim that she can no longer be trusted because of her involvement with Rose & Lissa. Her job as an alchemist is at stake, to the point where she might be sent to a re-education centre. She is woken up in the middle of the night and given one last chance by her superiors: help protect the Queen's sister, Jill Dragomir from those who wish to kill her to end the Queen's rule. A few days earlier, Jill had been attacked by these dissident Moroi at court, thus causing the Court to take extra safety precautions with her. The Court decides the best course of action is to send Jill away from court, to a new location where she would be safe from any Moroi or Strigoi wishing to end the Queen's rule. Naturally, this new location will have to somewhere hot and sunny as to not attract any Strigoi, and so Palm Springs in California becomes the choice location.
Sydney will not be going alone: some familiar faces will be joining her on this mission : my personal favourite Adrian Ivashkov and the dhamphir Eddie Castile who is Jill's bodyguard.
From the very beginning, there are a lot of mysteries and secrecy surrounding all the characters, which allows us to form numerous assumptions and theories, that in turn keep us glued to the book wanting to know more and more. Bit by bit these mysteries are unravelled, surprising us and yet causing further anticipation. I was so intrigued by all the different plots, characters & backstories throughout the book.
This books discusses several themes that, of course, tie in with the YA fiction genre: identity, friendship, family, school, confidence... The most important being identity. In this book alone the character development is very significant. The changes that both Sydney & Adrian go through are very meaningful, and the relationship between the two is essential in both of their character development : they are complete polar oppisites, and so they both end up unknowingly influencing eachother.
The most distinguishing theme for me however was that of pressure & expectation. Sydney feels like she must live up to the expectations of her father and of the alchemists: succeed in protecting Jill whilst not forming a friendship with her. What is also interesting is that we discover the different values that Sydney was taught in her upbringing. A brilliant way of showing that racism is taught. No one is born racist. Another great thing is her view on magic. How can someone cope with living with another, who has the power to wield magic, when they've been taught to despise it as it is "evil and unnatural"?
I think Sydney is the perfect choice to lead this new story. Not only are we intrigued by her backstory, but also about the duty of the alchemists. I have already fallen in love with this character: she has so many personnality traits that I admire, but also she also has issues that I want to help her get through.
I think ages 13-18 would enjoy this book the most!