I have such a soft spot for the Bloodlines books. Unless I'm spacing on something, I think that it is—at the moment—the only vampire series that has me CONSTANTLY YEARNING for the next installment. (I really should go back and read the Vampire Academy books: Bloodlines is a spin-off series.)
Most people know Sydney Sage as a quiet, somewhat socially-awkward, khaki-clad, extremely studious student at Amberwood Prep in Palm Springs, California. A select few know her secret: she is ACTUALLY an Alchemist, a member of a secret organization that works to keep the fact that vampires exist a secret from humans who aren't In The Know. Like all Alchemists, Sydney grew up believing that all vampires are bad news—even the non-murderous "good" ones—but her work (and her friendship-slash-ongoing-case-of-red-bottomosity with Adrian Ivashkov, a snarky, smoldering, artistic vampire royal) with vampires in the field has led her to distrust those long-held beliefs... but only secretly, since Questioning Protocol doesn't go over well in the Alchemist camp.
In this installment, she works on tracking down the mysterious Marcus Finch, a possibly-mythical Alchemist who A) is rumored to have quit the fold without getting forced into getting Re-educated, and B) supposedly Knows Things about the Alchemists that they Don't Want Known. She also goes to a vampire wedding; gets involved in a covert search for a powerful witch who's been draining young magic users of their life essence; and actively uses her magic... in the last place that she'd ever have expected herself to use it. Oh! There's also a DRAGON. A PIE-EATING DRAGON.
Here's what I love about this series:
- Sydney. Although she has strong emotional ties to the Alchemist way of life, her intelligence, her logic, and her critical-thinking skills have led her to start to question what she's been taught... but it's always clear that she's got understandably mixed feelings about it all; in the first two books, she was teetering on the brink of an eating disorder, and her struggles with and thoughts about that have been realistic, believable, and relatable. She's reserved and careful about who she trusts; she can be oblivious to the feelings of others; she's difficult and sometimes bossy; really type-A, and not always in a particularly attractive way; basically, she's wonderfully imperfect and I definitely see what Adrian sees in her.
- Adrian. My favorite thing about him—beyond the handsome, talented, smart stuff, which is par for the course with vampire love interests—is that he has faith in Sydney's abilities. When she decides to risk her freedom (not to mention her life) by going off to St. Louis and infiltrating the Alchemist compound and stealing some vital information, he isn't particularly keen on the idea, but not only does he NOT try to talk her out of it, but he also sets his own jealousy aside and even offers up pointers on how to use her feminine wiles to further her mission. Also, he's very open and frank and non-brooding about the fact that he's in lurrrve with her, which makes for some moments that are both hilarious (for the reader) and annoying (for Sydney).
Also good: the books are smart and funny, the secondary characters are likable (well, not the villains, duh), and Mead weaves in real-life issues without being preachy or condescending or didactic. If you like paranormals and you HAVEN'T started this series, they'll make for perfect beach reads this summer.
Book source: ILLed through my library.