Bloodlines is a spin-off series from Mead’s popular Vampire Academy series (one I highly recommend, despite their silly, campy covers – a trend Mead seems to have continued). The new series focuses on Sydney Sage, an Alchemist that was introduced in the later Vampire Academy books. Alchemists are humans that are tasked with keeping the existence of vampires a secret from the rest of the human race. They have special potions to dissolve vampire corpses and… probably some other stuff. For basing a whole book around one, Mead really doesn’t get into what an Alchemist actually does.
The main storyline revolves around Sydney still trying to prove herself a worthy Alchemist after aiding some Moroi and dhampirs (the good kind of vampire and a half-vampire, respectively), which is a major no-no among Alchemists. In an attempt to win back favor, Sydney accepts an assignment in Palm Springs protecting Jill, the younger sister of the Moroi queen. Other plot lines are introduced as well, including Sydney’s feud with a fellow Alchemist with a nasty attitude, a tattoo/drug scandal, and several love interests.
I went into this book really wanting to like it because Rose Hathaway, the heroine of theVampire Academy series, is possibly one of my favorite female protagonists ever put to paper. Sydney, unfortunately, is no Rose. Is comparing the two fair? Maybe not, but when you spin off a popular series involving lesser-used side characters, I think it’s important to make them equally interesting. Sydney is a type A overachiever who has trouble in social settings because of her intellect and direct nature. She also tends to be prim and a by-the-book rule-follower. She’s a little frustrating in the beginning, but she loosens up a little throughout the book and becomes a lot more likeable.
The book is slow going in the beginning, although once the several plot lines start to gain steam, the story starts to move along. I think what saved this book for me was the side characters (several of them – Jill, Eddie, and Adrian – returning from Vampire Academy) and Mead’s ability to keep the action moving and tell a decent story, even if this one lands on the side of far-fetched at times. Mead also uses a very conversational tone in her writing, which is both a blessing and a curse; it makes for a pretty easy, breezy read but at times the dialogue is clunky and exposition-heavy.
I don’t mean to highlight the negative, because in the end I did end up enjoying the book but I think Mead fell just short of creating a story worthy of its predecessor. The setup for the next book shows promise, though, and hopefully she’ll iron out some of the kinks as the series progresses. Also,Adrian. I love me some Adrian.
In short, if you’re a fan of the Vampire Academy series, this is a pretty decent read. If you haven’t read the Vampire Academy series, I highly recommend them, especially before reading this one.