by Richelle Mead
Read: July 30-31, 2012
Source: Library book
The second thrilling installment in Richelle Mead's Vampire Academy spinoff series
Tough, brainy alchemist Sydney Sage and doe-eyed Moroi princess Jill Dragomir are in hiding at a human boarding school in the sunny, glamorous world of Palm Springs, California. The students--children of the wealthy and powerful--carry on with their lives in blissful ignorance, while Sydney, Jill, Eddie, and Adrian must do everything in their power to keep their secret safe. But with forbidden romances, unexpected spirit bonds, and the threat of Strigoi moving ever closer, hiding the truth is harder than anyone thought.Populated with new faces as well as familiar ones, Richelle Mead's breathtaking Bloodlines series explores all the friendship, romance, battles, and betrayals that made the #1 New York Times bestselling Vampire Academy series so addictive. In this second book, the drama is hotter, the romances are steamier, and the stakes are even higher.
NOTE: The Golden Lily is the second book in a series. This review contains SPOILERS for the first novel, Bloodlines (and you should really read the 6 books in the Vampire Academy before you start this series at all).
I’m also not going to go into a lot of detail about all the supporting characters and their roles, because if you’ve read the previous 7 books (including VA), you’re familiar with who/what everyone is.
In The Golden Lily we continue to follow Sydney as she lives in Palm Springs California, with a group of Moroi vampires and their dhampir protectors. She is the only human and Alchemist in the group, and feels a lot of responsibility for everyone. Responsibility is something that Sydney is good at. She has a scientific mind and excels at solving problems and putting out fires, which unfortunately she has to do a lot of with this particular group, especially new arrival Angeline.
What Sydney is not very good at is relationships. She has absolutely no experience with love. She’s never held hands with or kissed a guy, or had any sort of boyfriend to speak of. In fact, she is not used to having much physical contact with other people, and has to learn how to let people into her personal space. I enjoyed watching Sydney’s naiveté about guys and dating. It was fun to see her discover romance for the first time.
Sydney also questions further her entire Alchemist belief system. She has been taught one set of truths her entire life, and has worked hard to live up to huge expectations that she feels like she can never meet. Now she is in a situation that has caused her to doubt everything she knows. It is a slow realistic process, and puts Sydney in a very tricky spot, because she is bound to the Alchemist organization that is very strict in its ideals. Her family and everything she knows is tied to it. I am eager to see what Sydney faces next, including how Marcus Finch plays a role in what is to come.
However, there is a fine line between understanding Sydney and her behavior and SLOW progress, and getting a bit tired of her constant defensiveness at anything new. There were a few times that I just wanted to shake her, because of her standard panicked reaction to everything that was different from what she believed. But still I GET why she is the way that she is and I think that she’s written very realistically as a character.
The person who continually throws Sydney’s ordered world off the most (at least emotionally) is Adrian, and after watching him lose to Dimitri in VA (though Dimitri was a WAY better match for Rose than Adrian), I’m excited to see him get his chance to be the hero. Rose was always much stronger than Adrian, but I've enjoyed watching him stand up and be protective of Sydney. Although Sydney has a different “love interest” in much of The Golden Lily, she and Adrian actually have a lot in common – and also lots of chemistry. They both struggle under parental expectations and have unhealthy vices that they use for escape or control. I’m excited to see MORE between them.
In many ways Adrian is the same as always. He has a lot of issues that he needs to overcome and I GET why he acts the way he does. It isn’t all carelessness and slaking off for no reason. But after knowing for so long, I’m ready to see Adrian make some changes to his life – for the better. And happily we saw some progress in him as well. I also enjoyed watching him fall for Sydney, knowing that she had no idea what was going on.
Of course the story features lots of drama where Eddie, Jill and Angeline are concerned. Dimitri and Sonya are working with Adrian to figure out why former Strigoi can’t be turned again. And some other things happen that I can’t talk about without giving anything away. But I like that the surrounding plot lines compliment and inform what is going on with Sydney, especially what Jill goes through with Micah. That is something that I’ve always liked about Richelle Mead’s writing – the way that her plots work together.
I see this series slowly building on itself. I actually read the Vampire Academy books after they were all published – and in about a week – so spacing these out is a very different reading experience for me. I can’t tell yet if I like it better or not. But I definitely have a greater perspective about how the story is growing.
Rating: 4 stars
Love Triangle Factor: Mild - in this book at least (although maybe Sydney would disagree). I'm not sure yet what the entire series will hold.