Modern Fantasy · Review · Young Adult

Bloodlines by Richelle Mead

On the Cover: Sydney and Adrian

Bloodlines was written by Richelle Mead. It is the first novel in the Bloodlines series. The Bloodlines series is a side series to the Vampire Academy series. Here is the synopsis on the back of the book:

Sydney Sage is an Alchemist, one of a group of humans who dabble in magic and serve to bridge the worlds of humans and vampires. Alchemists protect vampire secrets – an human lives.

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.

We start out with Sydney being woken up by her father in the middle of the night. She has kind of become disgraced by the Alchemists because she went rogue and helped out Rose, who had been a fugitive. It doesn’t even matter to them that Rose turned out to be innocent. We find out that Jill Mastrano Dragomir, Queen Lissa’s half-sister, was attacked at Court. Jill needs to go into hiding until Lissa can repeal the law that requires a monarch to have at least one blood relative to stay on the throne. Jill needs to be protected. She is sent to Palm Springs, California, to stay out of most of the Moroi and Strigoi world. Jill has Eddie there as her guardian. There are some other Moroi, including Adrian Ivashkov, there who will help her get to feedings on time. Now, you’re wondering why Sydney is involved. Well, she is the only Alchemist who is “comfortable” around unnatural, evil creatures (according to the Alchemist dogma). She has to be there to make sure Jill stays in hiding and gets to feedings on time. Sydney has to pretend to be siblings with Jill, Eddie, Adrian, and Keith (a fellow Alchemist she hates). Sydney gets a car so she can leave their private school’s campus to take care of Jill. Part of the reason she accepted the assignment was so that her sister, Zoey, wouldn’t be near Keith and so she stays out of Alchemist business. Keith and Adrian don’t attend the school, but they are around.

Keith is a complete jerk. He always makes himself look good in front of everyone that counts and shows his bad side to Sydney. The biggest reason she hates Keith is that he raped her older sister, who made Sydney swear not to tell anyone, especially their father. Their father loves Keith more than his own daughters and would probably say that she wanted it and this is how she wanted to get attention. Sydney went to Ibrahim Mazur, Rose’s father, to fake a Strigoi attack that made Keith lose an eye (he wears one of those prosthetic/glass eyes in its place). This indebted her to Abe (a.k.a. Zmey, which means snake in Russian). Abe made her pay off her debt by helping Rose when she was a fugitive. Keith also takes credit for the good things Sydney has done, which serves to piss her off. He tries multiple ways to get her fired and replaced by her sister.

Sydney is adjusting to the new school. She doesn’t have to take any of the language classes because her father taught them to her. Instead of taking the language classes, she is allowed to have an independent study class. She tries her history teacher who has enough help in the history department, from Trey. Instead, her teacher decides to have Sydney help her with this lifelong project of hers. It turns out that this project is learning about and using magic. Sydney despises and fears magic. Magic belongs to the Moroi, which the Alchemists believe are evil creatures of the night but less evil than Strigoi. She also has a major love of coffee. What’s going on in this school with the celestial tattoos?

Jill has trouble in school. Some of it comes from her having a gym class under the hot sun, so Sydney goes to Keith about it. He ignores it, but then backtracks and takes credit for being concerned about Jill (luckily, the Moroi know he’s a lying bastard). Jill gets bullied in school by some nasty preps. Sydney does a number on the leader of the group by using her chemistry knowledge to dye the girl’s hair a horrible color that won’t come out easily. (Mwahahaha!) The girl profusely apologizes and Sydney gives her the antidote with the promise that she will leave Jill alone.

Sydney and Adrian start talking about Adrian doing something useful in his life. They first think that he should get a job, but he’s too good for most of the jobs he is qualified for. Then, Sydney helps him get into a college art class, but he has to take the bus. The art classes actually do him a lot of good. They accompany Jill on one of her dates with this Moroi guy (Clarence’s son). They start to use some magic, which scares Sydney. Adrian steps in and gets them to stop using magic. To further illustrate Sydney’s fear of magic, she is terrified when Adrian contacts her through a spirit dream.

Adrian and Sydney team up to figure out what’s going on with these celestial tattoos. The tattoos are supposed to enhance you. Silver increases athletic performance. Copper is mostly chosen for the “high” it gives you. One of Sydney’s friends starts convulsing and getting sick from her tattoo. Sydney fears that it’s like her golden lily tattoo (made from vampire blood). She makes a quick solution that’s used on the few Alchemists who get negative reactions from their tattoos. The solution works, confirming Sydney’s fears. They break into the tattoo shop and discover that they are using vampire blood and saliva to make the tattoos. What’s worse? It doesn’t take long for them to figure out that Keith is the one supplying the blood and saliva, which he got from Clarence. Sydney turns Keith in to the Alchemists. He is arrested and sent to one of the Re-education centers. This puts Sydney back into high ranks with the Alchemists.

Jill has her fashion show (only because she wears a half mask). Sydney goes back to the apartment that used to be Keith’s. The Alchemists were going to give it to her, but she gave it to Adrian. She gets there and is attacked by Jill’s boyfriend. He is the Moroi who had been Strigoi (turned willingly) that Robert Doru had brought back. He has killed so many people and animals to try reawakening himself. The only hope he had left was to try killing an Alchemist. He tried Sydney’s blood, but it was too disgusting for him to drink too much of it. I wonder why. Could it be because of her tattoo? He calls some old Strigoi friends of his to come and force the awakening on him. While waiting, Adrian shows up but doesn’t fight at risk of Sydney being killed. Jill’s boyfriend tells them that he plans on awakening Jill (oh, hell no!). The Strigoi show up. They kill him and try awakening him. It turns out that once you have been brought back from being a Strigoi, it’s impossible to be awakened again. They try drinking from Sydney, but her blood still tastes bad. They start drinking from Adrian (this scared me and made me want to cry). Then, the cavalry (Eddie and Jill) shows up and kills the Strigoi. Sydney is injured but she refuses to be healed with Adrian’s magic.

It ends with everyone feeling better. A new dhampir roommate for Jill comes (Angeline, from the Keepers in Last Sacrifice). Angeline poses as their cousin. Sydney gets her own dorm room. Adrian moves into Keith’s old apartment and decorates it. He continues with the art classes. We end with Dimitri and Sonya showing up. Just great.

The biggest problem is that I knew about ten chapters ahead that Keith was involved with the celestial tattoos. I wish Richelle Mead hadn’t kept Sydney’s secret about Keith for so long. Couldn’t she have revealed it about halfway through the book instead of toward the end? Does anyone else feel as if that these characters are almost too perfect, in physical description? The Moroi are thin and tall. Adrian and Eddie have hot bodies by description. Sydney is a size 4. Their physical descriptions are a little too good to be true, but it’s not something that you really focus on until after you read the book.

This is the ideal book series for fans of Vampire Academy. It’s an okay read for those who never read the Vampire Academy series, but it’s better to have read the series. I’m not someone who generally likes reading side series, but this is a good side series. I recommend that you read this.

Genres: Urban Fantasy, Romance, Science Fiction (to an extent), Mystery, Young Adult

Stars (out of 5): ****

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3 thoughts on “Bloodlines by Richelle Mead

    1. I know. The vampire craze has been around for too long. I’ve been hoping for it to get to something better. I see it splitting three ways right now: werewolves, angels/Nephilim, and distopian societies.

      I only picked up this series because I liked “Vampire Academy.” I usually don’t like side series, but this one was actually okay.

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