Series: Bloodlines #1
Rating: 3.5 / 5 stars
It's been so long since I read the Vampire Academy series that I don't remember much about the VA aspects of the story, but Mead does a good job of highlighting the important facts without completely bombing you with data dumps. If you haven't read the original series to this spin-off, you might be a little confused as a few of the aspects and not see the importance, perhaps, of a few others, but overall I think you'll still be able to enjoy this series without having to go back and read VA.
Sydney isn't my favorite character so far, but she grows on me throughout the novel. The "romantic tension" between her and Adrian feels pretty forced through her narrative, and sometimes her internal dialogue is just a tad this side of cringe worthy (ie every time she obsesses over her weight and body image). Also, I'm still not sure I understand the entire premise of the Alchemists hating the unnatural vampires, but also taking it as their duty to protect them. That seems counter intuitive to me. In fact, I'm still not entirely sure what the job of an Alchemist really entails in general.
The plot drags for the first half of the novel as the setting and the characters are introduced, but it picks up about halfway through. A few things I thought were glaringly obvious with the plot turned out to be incorrect, but I made logical guesses, which makes me wonder why Sydney doesn't even think about them/consider them herself. Also, if half of the Alchemist's job is to convince humans to not change and to protect vampires, it strikes me as odd that Sydney wouldn't have any defense/combat training at all for protection about said vampires. A vast knowledge of chemistry isn't going to get you all that far with bloodsuckers.
So there are a few odd gaps in the plot that irk me a little, and the writing feels a tad juvilie at times, but you have to admire Adrian's quirky charm and wit, and the premise for the novel is interesting enough to hold my attention to the end.