I really had no idea what to expect from Bloodlines. The cover and title turned me off, so I was surprised to find it and other books by Richelle Mead on multiple lists of important books for young adults. I decided to give Bloodlines a shot, and I’m glad I did. It’s the beginning of what promises to be an exciting, well-written series with great characters.
One can’t help comparing any vampire novel with a certain bestselling book and movie series. I’ll take this one any day. Mead’s characters are compelling and complex. Her writing flows beautifully and doesn’t distract from the story. Readers will find plenty to think about regarding choices and consequences, as well as the way we judge those who are unlike ourselves. Healthy and unhealthy relationships are also a prominent theme.
The protagonist’s body-image issues are a little disturbing at the beginning, but they are addressed later on in the book, which makes me feel better. (Size 4 is not fat!) Other than that challenge, which frankly makes Sydney more relatable, she is a strong, smart, assertive, positive heroine who gets the job done.
My single complaint is that I was able to predict almost every major incident. The characters were just too easy to read. I felt like Sydney’s intelligence and job training should have made it easier for her to identify what was going on. But this shortcoming is easy to forgive, and younger readers might not find the plot or characters as transparent as I did.
I wish I’d started with the Vampire Academy series. While Bloodlines is definitely a stand-alone spin-off series, I get the feeling there is information I could have used while reading this book. I’m planning to enjoy more of Mead’s work.
Profanity/Language: 16 religious exclamations; 13 mild obscenities; 1 religious profanity; 11 derogatory names; 3 scatological words; 11 anatomical terms.
Violence/Gore: The process of vampire “feeding” is described–characters regularly drink the blood of both victims and volunteers, with few details; characters discuss the past murder of a loved one in some detail; characters discuss a past attack in which an attacker was killed (no detail); several characters are found murdered by throat slitting; a character is known to have lost an eye in a violent fight; in an extended fight scene, several characters are killed by stabbing with little detail; a character licks blood from her hand; a character is threatened at knifepoint; a character is tied up and threatened with death; a character cuts herself and feeds blood to another character; a character is thrown across the room with no injury; a character is stabbed, receiving a mild injury; a character is lifted by the neck with no injury; a character punches another character in the face; a character is killed by blood draining with little detail.
Sex/Nudity: Two characters flirt; a character runs out of the shower naked (no members of the opposite sex are present); a character is believed to have participated in sexual activity; a character remembers learning of another character’s rape.
Mature Subject Matter:
Death of loved ones, rape, murder, occult magic.
Alcohol / Drug Use:
An adult character smokes and drinks alcohol excessively; some adults drink alcohol socially; a character has a hangover; characters receive tattoos that are laced with euphoria-inducing and performance-enhancing drugs (fantastical).