Richelle Mead’s Bloodline series has sparked a lot of controversy. It seems like people either love it or hate it. I have talked to people who find it to be a bit of a cheat; they don’t like Sydney, they don’t like the premise, and they don’t like that the ending of the Vampire Academy series set this one up. I’ve heard all of the groans from my customer base and I’ve listened to all of the complaints. And I refuted them, every single one, because I think that this spin off series is worth it. Richelle Mead knows how to write a hell of a story for one, and her characters cannot be beat. Why wouldn’t we want another series given those factors?
In Bloodlines Sydney Sage, Alchemist at large, has fled to Palm Springs to hide Jill Dragomir from the enemies of the royal court. Now, while posing as high school students at Amberwood Prep Sydney, Jill, Eddie, and Adrian (who is taking college classes in Fine Art, woot!) try to carve out the most non-attention drawing life that they can. The problem is that everyone seems to notice them wherever they go – Jill has a fashion designer after her, Eddie has become the object of desire for newcomer Keeper Dhampir, Angeline, and Sydney… well, Sydney is just trying to lay low though everyone else is ruining this for her. Between Adrian’s tomfoolery, Angeline’s irresponsibility, and Jill’s ability to fall backwards into trouble it’s all Sydney can do to keep their cover… and now a new mystery unfolds for her brain to tackle – romance. Can Sydney keep it all together in the face of earth shattering odds?
There are a ton of spoilery things I can tell you but I’ll spare you that monologue. I know you want to be able to read it yourself and see how the events unfold. What I will talk about are the characters; in this case Sydney. I said before that I want earthquake proportion character developments with her and so far Mead has delivered only tiny quivers. I’m fine with that so far; we do have a six book series to expect her arc to evolve, after all. What I find interesting is that within this book her character seems to be going backwards and not forwards. Somehow Sydney has become more repressed and more uptight in this book instead of less. I blame the introduction of a new love interest, whose pompous and pretentious know-it-all ways seem to bring out the worst of her self-doubts.
I also can see a bit of Stockholm Syndrome colouring her actions in The Golden Lily. Sydney is resisting her empathy to the Moroi because it’s what she has always been taught – basically that Vampires are bad and that Humans are good. It’s the oldest precept of the Alchemists that she clings to with every fiber of her being, that you must not mix the two species. With every page the reader can see that Sydney is becoming more in favour of the Vampires and she is fighting it wholeheartedly. It also helps that Mead has written the humans to be not very good people in general. They are all corrupt, self-centered, and morally reprehensible and they do some nasty things in the name of their own dogmas. With every new plot twist and turn it becomes obvious that this series focuses more on the corrosive nature of power and how it changes people. It helps to really confuse things for Sydney who has always held very black and white principles of who the monsters are and who they are not. For Sydney I feel this is only the beginning of her questioning her own beliefs.
I want balance for her. I want her to be okay with who she is and who the players are around her. I want her to realize that her intense health regime and approach to food and beauty is ridiculous. Sydney needs to fall into herself and this book is a great starting place, with the introduction of love interests. I’ve always heard it said that self-esteem begins to take root when we see what others think of us romantically and I am pleased to see Mead delivering this idea with Sydney. It’s underscored so well by the different people who find her alluring and in how they approach her. It’s a very beautiful way of handling her growing tremors.
5 out of 5 stars… and now we wait a year for book 3… groan.
* The Golden Lily releases June 12, 2012. Please do not ask to borrow my copy.