A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
In a couple of classroom scenes, Sydney responds to the history teacher's questions about ancient Greco-Roman architecture and infrastructure and how they relate to modern-day politics.
The overwhelming message of this book is that you can't discriminate based on people's bloodlines. Sydney has been trained to believe all vampires are evil or immoral, but the vampires around her (for the most part) are more "human" than her nearest human colleague.
Positive Role Models
Sydney is a very intelligent, moral and generous protagonist. Although she takes her obligation to the Alchemists and her family quite seriously, she's also willing to challenge her strict, narrow-minded upbringing when confronted with Moroi vampires who act in a "human" manner. She helps the vampires in her charge even when it's not her responsibility to do so. She shows kindness when other Alchemists show only disdain.
Violence & Scariness
Most of the novel is uncharacteristically violence-free until a climactic battle scene in which characters are killed (drained of their blood, stabbed, lit on fire, etc.). One of the deaths is particularly upsetting. Stories recount how a character brutally lost his eye and how a character in the story is a rapist.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Some flirting between Jill and a couple of interested suitors. Jill goes on a chaste date with a guy a who is four years older. There are occasional references to womanizing Adrian's hookups, but we never see him in action.
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"bitch," "assh--e," "s--t," "bulls--t," and a few exclamations of "Jesus," "Jesus Christ," and "Christ."
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Products & Purchases
Gearhead Sydney has a Subaru Outback she grows to love.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Adrian drinks and smokes cigarettes, but he's 21. Jill looks hungover one morning, but she hasn't had anything to drink.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that this is the first installment in the new series by best-selling Vampire Academy author Richelle Mead. The heroine in this installment does not fall head over heels in love, like most female YA protagonists, so there's very little romance, for once. There is some language -- mostly the occasional "s--t" or "assh--e" -- as well as a climactic scene involving a couple of deaths, as well as some injuries to a few main characters. A 21-year-old character drinks and smokes cigarettes, but the school-aged teens are pretty chaste and party-free. The book features a strong female lead and some valuable lessons about prejudice and discrimination.
Is It Any Good?
Some firsts in a series are all punchy exposition to get you hooked before the action revs up, while others are spectacular even by stand-alone standards; BLOODLINES is more the former. While there are a few suspenseful central mysteries to follow and be resolved, this is clearly an exercise in getting to know Sydney -- a brilliant introvert who has never felt appreciated or unconditionally loved by her perfectionist father -- and see her adapt to her precarious new mission. Her interactions with flirtatious vampire Adrian and intriguing human classmate Trey are particularly fascinating, because they force the self-conscious Sydney to entertain the idea that she's actually a girl, not just an Alchemist.
Fans hoping for fluttery romance will have to wait for the next installments. Mead has a knack for making it seem like every male could possibly be interested in every female and vice-versa, but there definitely were a couple of bold-faced possibilities for Sydney in the next book. Since Sydney is often portrayed as a Hermione-esque character (incredibly smart, logical and invested in helping others) with no romantic experience, it will be interesting to see how Mead weaves in a first-love plotline for the plucky and mature heroine. You don't have to be familiar with Vampire Academy to enjoy Bloodlines, but those who've read that series will have a deeper sense of the various characters' personalities.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.