The Golden Lily (Bloodlines Book 2) – by Richelle Mead
A few years ago I was reading a fair bit of Paranormal YA fiction, as you do. One of the books I picked up in spite of its somewhat cringeworthy title was Vampire Academy, by Richelle Mead. And I absolutely loved it. Since then I’ve read the entire Vampire Academy series and enjoyed them all immensely, so when Mead put out Bloodlines, the first book in a spin-off series using many of the characters I’d come to know in Vamp Academy, I naturally grabbed that too, and wasn’t disappointed. Now comes The Golden Lily, the second book in this new series. I read it over about three days – here’s what I thought of it:
Sydney, our protagonist, has always known that vampires are dangerous, unnatural and need to be contained for the good of the entire human race. She and her fellow Alchemists make it their sacred mission to keep vampires secret from humans, to keep people safe. The undead Strigoi would like nothing more than to kill and eat anyone they come into contact with. Even the living, ‘good’ vampires, the Moroi, rely on human blood to survive, and need to be kept within the bounds determined by their agreements with the Alchemists.
Sydney has been entrusted with an important mission: keep the Moroi Jill safe to avoid anarchy within the Moroi, which would surely result in more human exposure to the vampires. They’re hidden away in Palm Springs, instructed to keep a low profile, go to school, and blend in. At first, Sydney was unnerved at having to spend so much time with her vampire charges, but at the same time it’s hard to stop becoming friendly with them, which means walking a fine line between doing her duty and caring too much about the Moroi. Especially when some mysterious humans seem determined to kill her friends at any cost, and no one seems to know why.
What you believe, why you believe it, and whether your beliefs change as you grow up are really important concerns for Sydney and you as the reader – very identifiable questions that most people can relate to all too well. Do we believe what we’ve always been taught? Or do we believe what we see, what we experience, the people we come to know?
I had a lot of background with this universe already by the time I read The Golden Lily. Mead has a lovely touch with characterisation, so I was emotionally invested in how Sydney, Adrian, Jill, Eddie, Sonya and Dimitri were getting on – and in them not being killed! Sydney’s a great central character, deliberate and rational, which is why her mixed feelings about Ardian were so relatable. The central mystery is nicely foreshadowed without being (too) predictable, and there were several different plot lines that were woven in beautifully as the action heated up. Mead’s pacing is spot on; the first part of her books centre on getting to know the characters well enough that you’re genuinely worried about them by the time they’re in peril, and the danger is fast and exciting, always incorporating something I wasn’t expecting!
This is the second book in what will be at least a trilogy, so not everything is neatly tied up, but Mead manages to answer enough questions that the novel doesn’t feel like filler before the final instalment. Really enjoyable, and much better than most Paranormal YA fiction I’ve (sometimes regretfully) read over the past few years.
Are you a Vampire Academy alum? Or have you read Bloodlines separately? What did you think?