At the acknowledgements Richelle Mead wrote that it was hard starting a new series, even in a familiar setting. Actually, it was kind of hard for me to start reading it. I enjoyed the Vampire Academy series a lot, and wasn't sure if I would like this one. It did help that I already liked Sydney, the star of this series, and I read that Adrian would be in it too. I did end up liking it.
The story starts out slowly. There are new characters, and some familiar faces from the sidelines of the previous books that take centre stage here. We also see Rose briefly, and get a small update on Lissa. It was weird seeing Rose from the outside. There are a couple of mysteries that slowly unfold. Most of them I could guess easily, there were enough clues, but one big one didn't have a lot of hints, so I didn't guess it.
The slow start accounts for the building of the new environment, and also getting to know the characters. It's also Mead's style that she peppers information about the mysteries and the bigger plot lines in a soup of seemingly mundane events.
It was weird reading about an American high school sometimes. It's so different from my experience, since I went in Hungary. Like having the same classes every day. We had about 13 subjects every term, and they were very general in designation, but in-depth in their cover of the subject material. It was also so weird that the seniors wouldn't know about Ancient Athens, the birthplace of democracy, and the dates. We covered that in elementary school in 5th year. Along with specific dates. I can't imagine studying like that.
There are many characters, and from the ending more coming. There are two people who appear to be the centre of the story.
Sydney is the main character in this series. I liked her in the previous series, so I was happy about that setting. She has some mysteries of her own, and some secrets. We get to know her family, what her upbringing was like, and her phobias. In many ways, she is like Rose. She has a deep sense of duty, and puts others before herself. However, while Rose always had a sense of her self-worth, Sydney doesn't. She is the type of person who would do anything for others, but doesn't expect anyone to help her. She has unreachable expectations of herself, and therefore always comes short. She also belittles her good qualities, physical or otherwise, but that is tied to her upbringing. I feel that I know her, because what I've written here, I could also write about myself. I'm seeing signs though, that just like I'm trying to overcome these things with the help of others, she will do the same. That will be interesting to see.
Adrian was probably my favourite man in the Vampire Academy. In a way, he is a typical character. He is the bad good guy, who has selfish tendencies, but also the desire to overcome that. Kind of like Spike in Buffy, the Vampire Slayer. I'm excited to see him reach his potential.
Overall, this new series seems as good as the previous one. I'm enjoying it already, and am excited to read it. Sadly, it's not complete yet, but the next book will come out early next year, so I'll have to bear the wait.