Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead.
Vampire Academy is a good example on how to write engaging YA for a not so YA audience.
Let’s have a quick run down: Rose, our main character, is a dhampir, a half vampire, half human, trained to protect Moroi, the gentle, passive, elemental-weilding living vampires of the world. Her best friend Lissa (that’s why I picked it up, because we share the same name) is a Moroi princess, the last Dragomir, and a spirit user. She needs to be protected from the Strigoi, the evil immortal vampires of the world who prefer to drink Moroi blood. Dimitri is Rose’s older mentor and love interest (he’s only 24, he’s not like OLD old but he’s too old for 17 year old Rose). He’s a dhampir, and he forces Rose to question her duty or follow her heart.
A Strigoi can be made two ways: they can be forced in the traditional ‘I’ll drink your blood you drink my blood BAM you’re Strigoi’ way – that’s for Moroi, dhampirs, and humans – or a Moroi can turn Strigoi if they kill while feeding.
Rose and Lissa share a psychic bond because Lissa – who uses ‘spirit’ as her element – brought Rose back from death in a ‘shadow-kiss’. Rose can feel Lissa’s emotions and sort of transport herself into Lissa’s mind to see and feel things through her mind.
Like I said yesterday, I’m not into vampire fiction. I’m really, really not. But that just goes to show how good this series is, if it can engage a non-vamp fanatic into a major fan.
I chose to represent Vampire Academy as my favourite series over Animorphs, because although Animorphs is being re-released this year, it’s written for kids of the 90s, while Vampire Academy is more contemporary. I own every book in both series, and Animorphs shaped my childhood; but Vampire Academy has influenced me as a writer and I aspire to be as good as this.
Sure, sometimes the editing doesn’t catch everything (I found four typos in my US version of Vampire Academy) and sometimes I feel Mead cheats (the use of flashback is actually pretty awesome, but it’s frustrating when the flashbacks happen in a episode we’ve already read about and had no idea said flashback was happening. I prefer the flashbacks from before the series started). I love the idea of main character Rose being able to leap into best friend Lissa’s mind so that we can see a different part of the story from her point of view. I think that’s quite original and interesting.