By Anne Jorgenson
In this era of supernatural fiction, there is no shortage of vampire novels. But if you’re going to read any vampire-based books, you better start with the classics – you better start with the Vampire Academy series. Written by Richelle Mead, this six-book series follows Rose Hathaway, a passionate and fiercely protective seventeen year-old, and her best friend, Lissa Dragomir. Lissa is a royal Moroi, a vampire, while Rose is a dhampir, a vampire-human hybrid who protects Lisa from human discovery and any other vampire-related dangers.
The Vampire Academy world has two types of vampires – the Moroi and the Strigoi. The Moroi are the “good” vampires who only drink the blood of consenting humans – they get a hell of a high so there isn’t exactly a shortage of willing addicts. In contrast, the Strigoi take no mercy on their feed, killing humans, other Moroi, and even dhampirs while drinking from them. Moroi vampires can become Strigoi if they make the conscious decision to kill someone when they drink from them, and Strigoi can forcibly change dhampirs or Moroi into Strigoi if they feel like it.
Considering their prodigal practices, the Strigoi have the greatest speed and strength, followed closely by dhampirs. Unfortunately, the good ole Moroi are at the bottom of this little food chain, with their stamina being about equivalent to that of a human. Because of this inequality in physical power, dhampirs are the perfect bodyguards for the Moroi since they’re the only ones who really stand a chance against the Strigoi.
The series follows two badass female leads that eventually grow into powerful women who can overcome the obstacles and doubts presented to them. Watching Rose lose her adolescence and morph from a reckless hothead to a passionate and controlled strategist is as emotional as you think. Watching Lissa transform from a timid, sycophantic girl to a strong and capable leader is just as amazing of an experience. You are able to easily sympathize with these two young women, going through every hardship and heartache they go through in the story. You grow with them; you learn the life lessons as they do; they inspire you.
Watching Rose makes you want to go protect everyone and stop every injustice possible, and watching Lissa makes you want to be as composed and hopeful as she is. The two complement each other wonderfully, and the fact that they do it together is so fantastic. Not to mention the other strong female supporting characters in the series (no names; no spoilers).
Before starting to read the Vampire Academy books, I highly advise investing in a pack of tissues – the writing is compelling enough to take you into the stories as a participant, not just an observer. If you’re looking for inspiring books with strong female leads, look into this series – you won’t be disappointed.