Genre: Young Adult Paranormal/New Adult Paranormal
This is the second book in the Bloodlines series and can also be classified as urban fantasy. While no one else I have seen will say this is a “new adult” genre novel, I place it there because the point of view character, Sydney, and potential love interest, Adrian, are 18 and 21 (or 220 respectively, which is a wobbly zone for being young adult versus new adult: So it’s both!
Just as great as the first novel, this novel picks up a month or so later. Sydney Sage, loyal alchemist and protector of the secret society of vampires (Moroi and Strigoi), aims to be an intellectual individual with at least some normal aspects of life. Her independent study teacher really begins to push her boundaries by having Sydney study small charms in witchcraft, on top of all her Alchemist work. It’s tough enough keeping Jill Dragomir, cousin to the Moroi queen, a secret, let alone adding witchcraft to the mix, and let’s not forget a new boyfriend!
Trey, a student at the boarding school Sydney is staying at, has found the literal perfect match for Sydney, a brainiac and lover of Greek and Roman history. When Sydney and Brayden begin their romantic relationship, they are both new to having another person around in a romantic way and are both a bit awkward about it.
When Adrian finds out, he love to make fun of Brayden, but could there be a hint of jealousy there for some reason? When Sydney offers to drive Adrian to meet his dad in a city a couple of hours away, she is drawn into lunch with them (at both her and Adrian’s misery) and sees firsthand just how Adrian’s father treats him. The drive back involves a slushee break to cheer Adrian up, but the small act seems to have greater impact than either of them anticipate.
The Halloween dance is ever looming, and the fashion designer that Jill had done some work for previously, continues to seek out and use Jill because she is perfect model material. The designer makes and sends beautiful costumes to Sydney and Jill in hopes of coaxing Sydney to let Jill model again, but to no avail. The costume Sydney receives is meant to be more of a Roman toga style, but resembles a flashy sexual dress that Sydney couldn’t ever imagine wearing (but she does). Adrian gets a glimpse and says she’s the most beautiful girl in the world, a comment she would rather have had from her boyfriend, Brayden, but does not get.
On top of all this good stuff, Sydney oversees Adrian, Sonya, and Dimitri’s experiments with spirit. They are aiming to find some link between spirit and the fact that a restored Strigoi cannot become a Strigoi again. During their experiments, Sonya and Sydney are attacked in an alley, and later, Sonya is actually captured as a known Strigoi by the Warriors of Light, a group once connected to the Alchemists.
The group, not believing Sonya to be back to Moroi form, aims to kill her. Sydney infiltrates their hideout with the help of Trey, a member of the Warriors, and is rescued by an organized group of Dhampir’s sent by Sydney’s superior. While Sonya is safe, something the leader of the Warrior said bothers Sydney, something about starting with Strigoi, but going after Moroi as well.
With a new threat on the horizon, Sydney finds that the Alchemist may be keeping a few too many secrets to themselves, and Jill may not be as safe as expected. With the mention of a name, Marcus, Sydney has something to go off of, to find a man who has seemingly left the alchemists and “broken” his tattoo.” On top of everything, Adrian finally admits his feelings, and while Sydney seems to feel the same way, she rejects him for the sake or tradition.
I absolutely love the pacing of this series as well as the conflicts. While there are ongoing issues that continue through the series (Such as Sydney and Adrian’s relationship, her family relationship, or what is going on in the Moroi world for Jill’s concern), there is always a plot that is contained within the novel itself. The books read very quickly, and the end always has some cliffhanger from the ongoing arcs that keep the reader itching for more. Mead’s craft is pretty good for the target audience, but I come across more typo’s and syntax errors in these books than I have seen in any other book for quite some time, which is one of the reasons I lower the rating of the novels. Despite how excellent these books are, I feel that I cannot give them a five just because there are more unique books or writers with better overall craft out there, but these are still some of my favorites, and I would highly recommend them! (And if you couldn’t guess by now, I would say YES, you should read this book).