I’m reading my way through the NPR Top 100 of Best Teen Fiction and today we’re discussing number 39: The Vampire Academy Series. Now, I’d decided to only read the first two books in the series, figuring this would give me enough to review the books. I ended up reading all six because it turned out to be a surprisingly good read (the author is Michelle Read by the way).
The books are well written, well plotted and the characters are realistic and well developed. The main character is Rose, whose live is dedicated to protecting her best friend Lissa, who is a ‘good vampire’. Both attend the Vampire Academy, where Rose is being trained to become a Guardian. That means fighting off the ‘bad vampires’ who are out to kill everyone. Rose’s mentor Dimitri ends up being her boyfriend. Then there’s Christian, Lissa’s boy friend and Adrian, who falls in love with Rose as well and a host of minor characters.
I fell in love with Rose myself because of her stubbornness, her courage and her fierce protectiveness of her best friend Lissa. Her character is very well done, a good mix of attractiveness and faults. The other characters were all intriguing and none of them was a stereotype. Even the minor characters were well done. There are some major plot twists in each of the books that keep you hooked and wanting to know how it all ends.
There’s more to object to, like a relationship between an adult and a minor (Rose and her boyfriend Dimitri). There’s not that much sex actually and when it’s mentioned, it’s not described in detail. That makes the sexual content in this series far less than in a lot of other young adult novels I’ve read. Rose has some pretty strong language at times, as do some others, but again, it’s not as much as in other books. That doesn’t make it okay, I’m just comparing.
What intrigued me is that throughout the six books, things are discussed that teens will recognize, like friendship, betrayal, gossip, addictions (drinking and drugs), difficult relationships with parents, relationships, sex, cutting, depression, and more. Even though the setting in a vampire world is foreign, the problems the main characters deal with are very familiar. That means that if your teens have read this series, you will have a lot to talk about.
I wouldn’t recommend this series to teens though considering the mature content and the vampire and magic elements. That makes the series controversial in Christian circles, meaning I wouldn’t recommend it (just like I wouldn’t recommend Harry Potter or the Twilight Series, even though I’ve read both and have no problem with them). But if your teens have already read it, it sure gives a lot of food for thought and discussion.