By Richelle Mead
Publication date: August 23, 2011
In this spin-off from the Vampire Academy series, Alchemist Sydney Sage is given the assignment of going undercover as a student at a private school. She is to pose as sister to Moroi Jill Mastrano along with Jill's guardian Eddie, and Keith, a fellow Alchemist. Jill's life is in danger and the only way to keep her safe is to go into hiding among humans. Sydney has her hands full with keeping the other humans from noticing that Jill is different, helping Jill adjust to a daylight schedule, and watching for threats. She also has to contend with a very moody Adrian Ivashkov and Keith's antagonism. When someone begins murdering Moroi, Sydney realizes that she may be in over her head.
Bloodlines is in some ways very different from the Vampire Academy books. For one thing, the main character is a human. Sydney is not super strong and skilled in physical combat. She is more of a calm intellectual. In contrast, Rose was the kind of character who took action first. Sydney shows fear and uncertainty and it is a little easier to relate to her because of this. At times, her lack of faith in herself was annoying but I understood that she acts that way because of her unfortunate upbringing. It is nice to see her grow more confident through her interactions with Jill, Eddie, Adrian, and others. Another difference between this series and the VA series is the lack of romance for the main character. Sydney grew up training as an Alchemist and had no time to pursue romance. She also has slim pickings as she is averse to dating vampires. There are hints at future romance for Sydney down the road but fans of the steamy and stormy romance between Dimitri and Rose may be disappointed.
While Bloodlines is different, it also brings back some characters. It was great to read about Adrian and Eddie again and there were even cameo appearances from Rose and Abe. (For those who miss Dimitri, he has a very tiny cameo and will be back for the sequel.) I found myself liking Adrian more than ever in this book. There are some new characters introduced including Sydney's sister Zoe who I think will have a role in later books and another Alchemist, Keith Darnell. I liked learning more about the Alchemists though I didn't find their world as fascinating as the Moroi and dhampir. Just like the original series, Bloodlines is packed with action and plot twists. While I was able to guess some of the twists, I was also surprised by some things. There are some new revelations that will impact the series going forward. I had some reservations about Bloodlines at first but in the end I was very pleased with it and can't wait to read The Golden Lily.