It's been ages since I reviewed a supernatural YA book - y'all have just been pining away for another one, I can tell. Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead fits the bill. This first volume in the series is about two teenaged girls: Lissa, a mortal, magic-wielding vampire; and Rose, a half-human/half-vampire Dhampir, Lissa's BFF and sworn guardian. Lissa is a Moroi (a type of vampire) princess, the last of her line, beautiful, fragile, haunted, and in need of protection from the nasty Strogoi, who are vampires in the universal sense - living dead bloodsucking killers. Rose, who narrates the book, has known Lissa since they were little. She is Lissa's opposite: curvy, earthy, passionate, short-tempered and ferocious.
In an attempt to protect Lissa, Rose took her friend and ran away from the Vampire Academy. They lived on the run for two years, using Lissa's talent for compulsion to avoid scrutiny and using Rose's blood to feed Lissa. But the Academy's administrative powers that be finally tracked down their truants and returned them to the school in the wilds of Montana, and now they face new challenges. Lissa must needs reclaim her rightful place as a royal in the students' social hierarchy and Rose has a lot of catching up to do if she wants to graduate as Lissa's official guardian.
Complicating matters are Lissa's ex-boyfriend's new girlfriend, a tiny harpy (not literally - she's another vamp) hell-bent on destroying her perceived competition; and wierd Christian, a moody outcast royal who may or may not have insidious designs on Lissa. Rose has her own problems to deal with - a badly tarnished reputation, a way-hot but distant tutor and the strange and powerful empathic bond she shares with Lissa, which allows Rose to know everything her friend is feeling.
Vampire Academy is not fabulous literature by any means, and is not nearly as good as the Mortal Instruments series. But it's entertaining, and quickly-read; the characters have equal parts supernatural and normal teenagery issues; it's a little bit violent and a little bit sexy, but remains firmly PG-13; and while things get wrapped up pretty tidily at the end, you can pick out the themes that will continue in the next books (Frostbite, Shadow Kiss, Blood Promise, Spirit Bound and Last Sacrifice, to date). I liked this first volume well enough that I'll take another stab at the series and see where it leads me.
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