Vampire story with strong heroine explores prejudice.

What parents need to know

Educational value

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.

Positive messages

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.


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.


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.


"bitch," "assh--e," "s--t," "bulls--t," and a few exclamations of "Jesus," "Jesus Christ," and "Christ."


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.

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.

Parents say

Not yet rated
Review this title!

What's the story?

In this Vampire Academy spin-off, the focus shifts from Rose Hathaway to secondary character Sydney Sage, a clever 18-year-old Alchemist who's sent on an undercover mission to protect Jill, the Moroi vampire queen's sister. Sydney must pretend to be Jill's sister as they attend an elite boarding school in Palm Springs, Calif., along with Jill's bodyguard, Eddie, and the smug and sexy Adrian, who lives nearby with the town's one Moroi inhabitant. Complicating the assignment is Sydney's palpable dislike of Palm Springs' head Alchemist, Keith, who keeps threatening to replace Sydney with her less experienced younger sister if she keeps acting like a \"vamp lover.\" As Sydney grows accustomed to her vampire-guarding post, she discovers her human classmates keep sporting mysterious \"magical\" tattoos. Plus, young women -- human and vampire alike -- keep popping up dead.

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.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about how the cover makes this book look like yet another paranormal romance, but there's actually little romance in it. Publishers seem to believe tween and teen girls are unable to read a book without romance. Do you think they are?

  • Discuss the author's theme of prejudice and discrimination. How do Keith and even Sydney make assumptions about the vampires and dhampirs? How is Sydney an example of someone who learns to see past the superficial?

  • For those familiar with the Vampire Academy series: How is Sydney a different kind of protagonist than Rose? Which story line do you prefer? Do you like how the author inludes supporting characters from VA into a more prominent role in Bloodlines?

Book details

Author:Richelle Mead
Topics:Magic and fantasy
Book type:Fiction
Publication date:August 23, 2011
Number of pages:432

This review of Bloodlines was written by

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are conducted by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.


Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

Find out more

Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

Find out more

About our buy links

When you use our links to make a purchase, Common Sense Media earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes. As a nonprofit organization, these funds help us continue providing independent, ad-free services for educators, families, and kids while the price you pay remains the same. Thank you for your support.
Read more

See more about how we rate and review.

About Our Rating System

The age displayed for each title is the minimum one for which it's developmentally appropriate. We recently updated all of our reviews to show only this age, rather than the multi-color "slider." Get more information about our ratings.

Great handpicked alternatives

What parents and kids say

See all user reviews

Share your thoughts with other parents and kids Write a user review

A safe community is important to us. Please observe our guidelines

Teen, 14 years old Written byMariah89 March 23, 2013

Gripping read

This book, while fantastic and a great sequel series to The Vampire Academy there is small amount of drinking and smoking. It's small and i think most teens will be able to deal with this. Something i would encourage anyone to read, but read The Vampire Academy first.
What other families should know
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
Kid, 12 years old November 4, 2012

Great book

This book is well written and vampire lover will love it. There is some mild language drinking and smoking. There is a lot of violence and twists in this book all in all it's ok for kids 10 and up.
What other families should know
Educational value
Great messages
Great role models
Too much violence
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
Teen, 14 years old Written byluckylaurax February 20, 2012

Great book

This is a good read which is slow at first but becomes fast paced and exciting with some twists. Bloodlines deals with problems that teenagers face such as; drinking, prejudice, being super skinny.
What other families should know
Educational value
Great messages
Great role models
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking


Did our review help you make an informed decision about this product?

Star Wars Guide