I used to be the blogger called YAL Book Briefs, but I grew bored of the handle and changed my name to Howdy YAL. I also respond to MJ. I like to read, write, eat truffles, and watch bad Lifetime movies.
Because of the heart wrenching for my (yes, I said my because in my fictional universe he’s all mine-even though he obviously only has eyes for Sydney in Richelle Mead’s world) Adrian I had to see him have happiness. Which is why I gobbled down Bloodlines like a fiend.
Like with my binge review of the Vampire Academy series, I’ll be doing almost a mini review for each book and then discuss the series as a whole at the end of this post.
Where Sydney Does a Sad Drew Barrymore Impersonation (Bloodlines):
After reading Rose’s perspective the first thing about Sydney I could think of was drab and boring. But as I continued reading this book I grew to appreciate her like her. And you know what, she wasn’t that bad. Sure, sometimes she had the Drew Barrymore I’m really a thirty-old pretending to be a high school kid going on where you if I was Jill I’d be like chill out Sydney. But I grew to like her in the end.
Despite her skinny obsession.
I actually really liked the set up for Bloodlines for a spinoff. Unlike, some (a lot) of spinoffs there was the perfect balance between introducing new fans to the Vampire Academy world and give enough cookies (thank you for the Rose cameo, Mead) to sustain themselves. Oh and the ending…
Even though I wasn’t a
Professor Snape Dimitri fan, I still have to say I was squealing when he made his cameo.
And Adrian. Oh my Adrian (and yes, the word my is going to be used a lot to associate with him) throughout this binge review. I felt for you baby, so so much here. But you were still able to have your one liners and be awesome. And I loved how you weren’t your typical I’ll take charge macho YA egomaniac in a stressful situation. It seemed realistic. Though, you did try to help in your own Adrain type of way.
I think the worst thing about Bloodlines was it was clearly an introduction book. Which is fine, I expected so much. But after having all the buildup in the Vampire Academy starting again, well, it took a lot out of me.
Overall Rating: A solid B. And Sydney, please eat a cheeseburger without cringing.
Where You Want to Tell Sydney that Cheeseburgers are Delicious (The Golden Lily):
The Golden Lily was better than Bloodlines, but the self body shaming that Sydney was doing throughout the book really bothered me. I really appreciated the Adrian lecture at the end.
The relationship building between these two was excellent as well. One thing I will give this series is that there is no insta love here and Mead takes her time building these two so it’s an actual believable relationship-unlike some couples (cough, Dose, cough). That was probably The Golden Lily’s greatest strength. All those Sydrian moments and they’re not even a couple yet.
What didn’t work for me, well, the side plot. It just seemed sort of thrown together so that the book could have an action worthy last hundred pages. It wasn’t bad and as the series progressed it made sense, but it wasn’t my favorite plot.
The side characters were better in this installment as well. Jill seemed more like a teenager than a ten year old, or maybe Sydney was less Drew Barrymore than the last book. And I liked the addition of Angeline. She provided some nice comic relief. I also really enjoyed Eddie. Wish his role was more expanded to be honest because he’s pretty awesome.
Speaking of badass half vampires, Dimitri rears his head in this installment and I actually like him a lot better here than I did when he was the star of the show. He actually works as a side character. And since Sydney wasn’t drooling over him, even better.
Overall Rating: B+ a strong second installment. But there were some things that needed to be worked on-like Sydney eating a cheeseburger.
And This is How It’s Done (The Indigo Spell):
This probably was my favorite book in the series. And probably solidified the fact that I prefer Sydney to Rose. Mainly because she’s so brainy bad ass much like Hermione Granger. But she has waaay better taste in guts (seriously, Ron Weasley-shudders).
Everything is done perfectly. The world building. The characters. The relationship building. The cameos. The plot.
Character development played a big role in this particular installment. Sydney grew big time and so did Adrian and both of them had to grow for them to be together. And I think Sydney probably would eat a cheeseburger in this installment (yay).
The courtship was as sizzling as ever. And I loved how even though it was a big part of the novel, it was wrapped around and didn’t overwhelm the entire plot.
Also, both of the characters strengths and weaknesses play a role in shaping the novel.
To be honest, when I saw the cover I was worried Mead was going to throw in an annoying love triangle. But bless the book lords, no. It was just terrible cover design (Man, this series really got screwed with the covers).
I was also worried that the overall action oriented plot or plots was going to be messed up here since there were two of them going at the same time, but oddly it worked here.
Really, The Indigo Spell was one of those weird books where I was glushing the entire time and acting like a fangirl.
Overall Rating: A+
Can We Just AK Umbridge JR Already? (The Fiery Heart):
You know what I really hate when a series narration is thrown off mid series. Like in Lux when Dameon Black’s POV was thrown randomly in Origin. It just usually seems gimmicky and doesn’t work. Even though I totally know where Jennifer L Armentrout was going using Daemon’s POV in Origin, but in The Fiery Heart (totally worked).
I think it actually helped the novel going into my Adrian’s head.
Especially with the direction Mead decided to go with this installment.
I loved the fact that she actually had the guts to diagnose Adrian. Knowing someone who has bipolar disorder the behavior that Adrian exhibited was pretty spot on. And I love how Mead used how mental illness can effect a relationship. The whole wellness vs spirit usage was a pretty good plot as well. It reminded me of how many people will refuse to take medication because they say it impairs their creativity. I just loved this plot line.
However, as much as I had to love about The Fiery Heart it wasn’t my favorite out of the lot. Throughout the entire novel, there was just a sense of dread with this book. It was so fluffy, so I knew to expect the worst. The fluff was okay for the most part, but sometimes I was like. Come on. I miss your banter. Though I totally get why you two want to be physical…but still I’m the one reading I need to enjoy the banter.
The other big problem I have is Zoe (hence forth known as Umbridge JR). Sorry, I just did not like this character. She’s not sympathetic. And I don’t know why Sydney bothers. Just by her some horrible cardigans and a blood quill, Sydney, if you want to get in her good graces. Seriously, though this character is pretty unredeemable and has the maturity level of a toddler. I mean, how can you hate Eddie? How?
Overall Rating: B+/A- still solid but it’s no Indigo Spell.
The Alchemists are Akin to Death Eaters, but Worse Because They’re So Boring like the Dursleys (The Silver Shadows):
Ah, Silver Shadows currently the most recent book out in this series. And it ends on such an evil cliffie.
You know it’s odd, in the Vampire Academy series I was always on Mead’s ass about being too long winded with her book. But I felt like this installment was way too short.
And it was pretty long. Not four hundred pages, but a healthy three hundred and some odd pages. And a lot happened. I just…I don’t know with having Vampire Academy tomes approaching six hundred pages towards the end of its run, I was hoping for a book that was a little thicker.
But man, a lot of story was packed in those pages.
Mead really knew who to twists my emotions. Because God….I just felt so bad for Sydney and wanted the vampires to finally get fed up with the Alchemists and stick Rose and Dimitri on their butts. And I kept waiting for Sydney to wake up and save herself, though all considering she was pretty awesome given the circumstances.
But Adrian. Oh, baby. I wanted to rip your head off for awhile. But your regression makes sense. I just wanted to slap you a lot. Or have dream Sydney or real Sydney slap you some.
But when you did wake up….Man, you did kick some ass. And then your plan.
Normally, I’d be annoyed with it, but this is one time where I’m actually giving this cliche my blessing (mainly because Sydney is me, well, if I was a fictional character and could throw fireballs).
Overall, this installment left my hanging but concerned. While there are some loose ends, I think if it would’ve been a tad bit thicker everything probably could’ve been resolved here.
Overall Rating: A. Not quite an A+ but this book really left me feeling. Flaws and all.