Overall Rating: ☆☆.5
Author: Richelle Mead
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Audience: Young Adult
Narrator: Emily Shaffer (books 1-6), Alden Ford (books 4-6)
Publisher: Razorbill; Listening Library
Source: Library (Libby app)
Recommended for fans of: Vampire Academy
Content Warnings: rape; body image issues/dieting; teen drinking, smoking, drug use; cults; brainwashing; psychological and physical torture
Pub. Date: August 22, 2011
Length: 13 hours (421 pages)
#2 The Golden Lily
Pub. Date: June 11, 2012
Length: 12 hours (418 pages)
#3 The Indigo Spell
Pub. Date: February 11, 2013
Length: 12 hours (401 pages)
4. The Fiery Promise
Pub. Date: November 18, 2013
Length: 12 hours (412 pages)
5. Silver Shadows
Pub. Date: July 28, 2014
Length: 11 hours (380 pages)
6. The Ruby Circle
Pub. Date: February 9, 2015
Length: 10 hours (348 pages)
BOOK ONE SYNOPSIS
I 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 allegiances 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.
Y’all. I really wanted to like these books. I saw many reviews saying that Bloodlines was even better than Vampire Academy. I didn’t buy into the VA hype because I found the series problematic (as I explained in my series review), but I enjoyed the writing enough that I wanted to try this spin off series with the hopes that it would be everything I wanted VA to be.
It wasn’t. Sydney is a BORING protagonist in the first few books. She is too perfect and righteous, obsessed with following rules, doing homework, and wearing beige. She is also obsessed with dieting, counting calories, and her weight, and I thought the way her body image issues were described was problematic for teen readers. The first book also includes another romance with a problematic age gap (what is it with Richelle Mead and normalizing gross age differences in relationships?).
I really liked the introduction of witches into this paranormal universe, and Sydney finally became interesting when she began exploring magic in earnest. I did like Adrian (he was one of my favorite characters from VA), and I supported their romance initially…until it went off the rails. The Alchemists turned out to be much more culty than they appeared in VA, which took the series in some bizarre and unexpected directions.
I almost DNF book 3, and I wish that I had. While I thought book 4 was the best in the series, book 5 was straight up ridiculous, and I only read book 6 so I could put this series behind me for good. I do not ever plan to read anything by Richelle Mead again. After 12 books, I can safely say that I do not support her writing and the problematic elements she includes in books marketed for teens.