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Back for more blood sucking!

Back for more blood sucking!

Once the Harry Potter experience was over, I decided to go back to my exploration of the vampire world as told through young adult and adult novels.  This post will be entirely about young adult books and in the next I will talk about the adult novels, which I have yet to begin.  As you know, I had success with the other two post-Twilight series I attempted, The House Of Night series and The Sookie Stackhouse books.  Both worked for me for different reasons and I’m happily going to follow them to their completions.  This time I out I found one series to continue but the rest were epic failures.  I’ll talk a bit about those first and then talk about the one I truly enjoyed.

Evermore by Alyson Noel

I heard about this book, I think possibly on a Twilight sight.  And I know someone mentioned it being as addictive and better than Twilight.  I wish I knew exactly where I read this because I would happily go back and tell the poster that no, not remotely.  I didn’t like it at all.  There was one aspect that I found possibly interesting but the writing was terrible, hard to follow and not really enlightening.  One scene she seemed to be describing a dream but then it appeared to be real.  Very strange and disjointed.

This book tells the story of Ever Bloom, a 16 year old former beauty queen whose whole family was killed in a car accident.  She nearly died but lingered while her family crossed over the bridge to the afterworld and instead was brought back to life.  She moves to California to live with her aunt and instead of embracing being popular again she keeps mostly to herself and a couple of “freak” friends.  A new guy, Damon Auguste, comes to school and starts drawing her out.  He is not a “vampire” per se, he’s apparently an “immortal”.  I guess he doesn’t feed from people at all but he drinks some red drink that is never really defined, although Ever suspects there is some blood base to it. Damon can also read minds, which calls back to Edward; as can Ever, ever since the accident which nearly killed her.

The one interesting aspect to the novel is that Ever is Damen’s soulmate reappearing over and over again over the 600 years of his life.  His former wife keeps killing her and then he finds her again in another place and time.  That could have been interesting but the idea got buried beneath her ghost sister visiting her, the stalking ex and this idea that she could choose immortality.  The concepts were there but I didn’t feel like the story explored anything to my satisfaction.  Another book is coming but I won’t be reading it.

The days of the solitary vamp in the shadows seem to be gone.

The days of the solitary vamp in the shadows seem to be gone.

The Vampire Diaries by LJ Smith

I decided to look into this one since it’s being made into a show on The CW that I plan on checking out.  In this series, we have Elena, who like Ever looks exactly like a girl from the past of Stefan and Damon (there’s that name again), a pair of vampire brothers who happen across her.  Like Ever, Elena’s parents died in a car accident and she and her little sister are living with an aunt.  Unlike Ever, Elena is still the popular queen of the school and has to deal with the catty politics of high school hierarchy.  Stefan appears on the scene and Elena decides she must have him at all costs.  Initially he tries to resist her but they eventually get together.  Until Damon appears, that is.

Damon is the “bad” brother, the one who embraces being a vamp and lives for the darkness.  Stefan is Cullenized, generally only drinking from animals although occasionally he will drink from a person without killing them.  Damon’s not quite so concerned with people living and dying.  What he is concerned with is Elena, who looks like the girl, Katherine, that both brothers loved.  She’s the one who turned them both into vamps, instead of choosing between them, she chose to turn them both.  When they got angry with her for not picking one and thinking they’d be happy to live together with her for all of eternity, she apparently left herself out in the sunlight to die.  These vamps could be out in sunlight if they wore a special ring but she took hers off.  Stefan carried it on a chain for hundreds of years til he fell for Elena, then he gave it to her.

I read the first two books in the series, they were packaged together and the story was alright.  I would have probably pursued it but I did some reading up online and didn’t like where the author went with the story so I decided against it.  I liked the concept, a good vamp and a bad vamp vying for the same girl years later.  The characters were just okay, as usual the female protagonist didn’t really appeal to me.  She was kind of a bitch and not the kind of bitch I generally enjoy.  Stefan was alright and Damon had a lot of appeal but we didn’t get much of him.  I imagine the 3rd and 4th books explore him a bit more but I wasn’t interested enough to continue.

Night World No 1 by LJ Smith

These books caught my eye because they were in the same display at the House of Night novels.  Since I found them so appealing, I thought why not?  Why not indeed…there’s a lot of reasons why not.  The book contained 3 separate stories that almost read like short stories instead of novels.  I again, liked the idea behind the books but not the actual stories themselves.  The Night World is a secret world of vamps, witches and werewolves.  They hold themselves separate from society and consider humans to be an inferior race.  Falling for a human or sharing their secrets with a human is a death sentence.  I liked that idea and had the actual Night World been explored, I could have enjoyed it.

Instead I got 3 short love stories which did nothing for me.  In the first, a vampire turned his best friend/secret love into a fellow vampire because she was dying of cancer.  His evil cousin was actually tempted to turn them in to the Night Council but didn’t and that was that.  The second story had evil cousin fall for a human, which would have been kinda cool but it was too short and again, not a payoff with the Night World.  The third had a witch falling for a human and choosing to leave the Night World for him.  Nobody had any consequences for going against Night World law and it never felt like there was any threat there.  Kinda ruins the story.  There are 2 more books but again, I’m not pursuing it.

The one thing I did enjoy in this series was that there were two kinds of vampires, those that were made and those that were born.  Yes, vamps could marry and have kids and those kids would grow up until they decided to stop.  Then they were immortal.  Vampires could also feed on humans in these books without killing them.  I do like that concept quite a bit.

Again vamps feeding without killing.

Again vamps feeding without killing.

The Vampire Academy Novels by Richelle Mead

Just when I was ready to declare my second go round with vamp lit a failure, I happened across these books.  And lo and behold, I got sucked in again!  When I saw the title I thought of House of Night, immediately, and this has some similar aspects although it’s very different in tone and setup.  Like I mentioned in the last paragraph, these novels also have two sets of vampires, the born and the made kind.  There are names for these and I’ll go into them momentarily.  Like HON, these take place at a school for vampires and dhampirs.  Dhampirs are half human/half vampires, generally born when a dhampir sleeps with Moroi.  Moroi are full blooded, born vamps.  There are 12 royal Moroi families, most of whom have some representation at the school.  Moroi vampires are not immortal, they live and they die.  The immortal vampires are called Strigoi.  These are made vampires, via biting, or born vampires who kill Moroi or humans.  It’s kind of strange to embrace the names and whatnot but you grow used to them after awhile.

The 3 books, with a 4th coming out in a couple months, are told again in first person, but this time our heroine is likable.  I mean, really and truly likable!  She’s Rosemarie Hathaway, a dhampir.  Dhampirs generally have two paths in life, they can either become a guardian of the Moroi, protecting them from Strigoi, or they can sleep with Moroi men and have and raise their illegitimate children.  Rose is in training to be a guardian and she’s protecting her best friend, Moroi royalty Lissa Dragomir.  The novel kicks off with them out on their own living among humans and for a few chapters I was actually afraid they’d been introduced as characters in another book and I’d just missed it.  But no, the author just immediately immerses you into this world and you have to puzzle it out through the first novel.  Sometimes I find that annoying but it worked here.

After Rose and Lissa get dragged back to school, which is not a spoiler as it happens in the first chapter, they are brought back into the world of the Moroi/Dhampir life.  The first novel focuses heavily on friendships and relationships within the school while subsequent novels bring a lot more of the battle with the Strigoi into it.  And I really liked all of it.  Rose and Lissa have a blood blond, but it’s one sided.  Rose can sense Lissa’s moods at all times and she can even enter into her head and see things the way Lissa does, but Lissa does not have the same read on Rose.  Lissa is the last of the Dragomir line, her family was all killed in a car accident that she and Rose survived.  It was after she and Rose lived that their bond formed and Rose got the ability to read Lissa.

If the books had been told through Lissa’s eyes I might not have enjoyed them as much.  She’s a definite good girl queenly type, but she’s not annoying.  Just kinda bland.  She does have a dark side to her, a battle with depression and power addiction that Rose constantly has to help her with.  Rose, though, Rose is awesome.  She’s an act first, think later kind of a girl.  She’s sarcastic, smart alecky and a badass.  Although another virgin, she doesn’t give a damn about her reputation for hooking up with guys and having a good time.  I really like that attitude amidst all the purity in most of the books.

Rose has major mother issues, a common theme in most of the novels I’ve read.  Her mom turned her over to the academies when she was four and continued her quest to be one of the top guardians in the world.  There’s a lot of resentment there but she and her mother do bond a little over the 3 books.

This series fulfilled my need to get some kind of read on the society being set up.  Where Stephenie Meyer only briefly touched on the Volturi, this one explores the Moroi royalty dynamic, courts, punishments, etc.  I won’t spoil the who’s should I convince anybody to read it, but someone Rose cares very much about appears to become Strogoi at the end of the third and novel and the fourth is going to explore her quest to kill that person.  Where I didn’t get the battles that I longed for in Twilight, here you get them plentifully.

There is a romance aspect for both Rose and Lissa, Lissa with an outcast fellow royal and Rose with an older guardian.  That’s not the driving interest of the stories for me but I like both situations all the same.

I mentioned The House Of Night novels and there is another similarity here besides the school factor.  In these books, the vampires specialize in one of the elements as well.  Lissa has yet to specialize but it turns out there’s a reason for that I won’t spoil.  I did find it interesting that calling the elements comes to play here but there is less of a spiritual aspect than in HON.

I thought it was interesting that 3 of the series revolved around dead families.  Evermore & Vampire Diaries were about gorgeous blond girls and Lissa in Vampire Academy is also a gorgeous blond.  Rose is statuesque brunette though, so there’s a little diversity.  I’m about to graduate into the big person books so we’ll see if there’s any different themes brought to life there.  I really find the vampire hierarchies to be quite interesting and that’s what made me enjoy Vampire Academy so much more than the rest.  None of these books are gripping me like Twilight did, but that was because of the love story for me.  I’m enjoying exploring the other worlds out there though and finding a couple of good series to continue with.  Back soon with more!

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