I never know to say in these things. I guess that says something about me. I read a lot, write stories, and like books. I like a good debate. Nothing else is to say. :-)
It is always fascinating to me how so many people can write about vampires, and all come up with so many different way to do it. In this book there are two different sets of vampires: the Moroi, who are living vampires. They eat and age and procreate like anyone else. And then there are the Strigoi, the dead vampire...who fit more traditionally into what we normally see as vampires. And there is also one more group, the dhampir. Dhampirs are human and Moroi mixed children, or dhampir and Moroi mixed children depending on the person. Because of their genes they are usually larger, stronger than the Moroi, but they also lack the magic most Moroi have...so they are still considered less than by most. In this society the dhampirs, due to their physical strength, are used as guardians to the Moroi...bodyguards. Most guardians are men, but few are women like Rose. We learn that most dhampir women are basically used as outlets of lust for Moroi men because dhampirs can only breed with Moroi and not with each other (and Moroi with Moroi). So they are used as breeding machines and whores. And because they also, like humans, get addicted to the bite of the Moroi, they are used as "feeders" for Moroi men. This means that female Dhampirs all have to fight the stigma of being viewed as whores and just objects of sex. Because dhampirs cannot breed with each other, relationships between them are seen as pointless. And even more frowned upon are relationship between guardians...whose main duty is protecting the Moroi. The Moroi are hunted regularly by the Strigoi and are fact becoming endangered...so protecting them is top priority. The Moroi are privileged and protected...especially the royal set, and they act that way and take full advantage of their rank. In this high school setting of the book...you can see this can lead to lots of conflict and angst. There is set social structure and every is very aware: The Queen-the families of royal blood-Moroi not of royal blood-dhampirs-Strigoi (even though some used to be Moroi. Strigoi are either made by force or some Moroi do it voluntarily). The structure is set and the Royals make sure people know their place.
Rose is a Dhampir. Her mom is one of the few Dhampir women guardians and very respected by many. She does not know who her father is but she knows he is a Moroi male. He mother sends her to the academy to become a guardian and that is where she meets Lissa, who is of a royal Moroi family. The for ma tight bond from the start. At the opening of the book we find them on the run. For two years they had been running from the Academy and their society due to a reason that is slowly unfolded throughout the book. Rose is brass and brave and tries her best to fight, though outnumbered, to keep Lissa safe and not back at the school where she thinks she is in danger. You realize early that she would do anything for Lissa and it is due to her that they survived so long outside of the protection of the school. She is a sarcastic, loud and brave and throws herself into every conflict without a thought, but under all of that boldness she is also very vulnerable and fragile. But of course they are captured and brought back to the school. They are both sent back to their duties of their society and back into the lion's den of politics at Vampire Academy. They plan to lay low, and not draw attention to themselves and escape again when they get a chance. But that falls apart when someone seems to target Lissa and terrorizes her on a nightly basis by leaving slaughtered animals in her bed. Lissa slowly starts to unravel and we see why Rose is so protective of her. And due to the viciousness of teenagers, Rose is slandered and attacked by people jealous of her and Lissa's bond and closeness. We find out that Rose and Lissa have a strange kind of bond where Rose can feel all of Lissa's emotions and sometimes even go into her head and see what she sees. This is one of the many secrets they keep.
As the story unfolds you have some of the usual teen angst: forbidden love, sex, lies, fights, parent issues and bad guys. And the underlying mystery driving Rose and of Lissa's initial escape from the Academy and their fears. The book was very nicely paced and grabs you from the start, I practically read it in one sitting. Even in this fantastic setting, you relate and identify with the characters very well...because ultimately they are facing issues most of us have faced...just in a grander scale. Rose is a great character, and even the characters I hated..I enjoyed because they made sense, and the world created is fascinating. I really enjoyed this considering I was kind of reluctant to start another vampire series. Very fun read and I look forward to reading the rest of the series.