Richelle Mead, Bloodlines

Posted April 9, 2012 by Kathy Davie in

Bloodlines (Bloodlines, #1)Bloodlines by Richelle Mead
Series: Bloodlines, 1
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

First in the Bloodlines urban fantasy series for young adults and, this story at least, revolves around Sydney Sage, a young Alchemist with sympathy towards the Moroi and dhampirs.

You may want to read the Vampire Academy series first as background starting with Vampire Academy.

My Take
Sydney is rather irritating in her prejudices. She means well, but…she needs to loosen up and get a life. Most of the story is of Sydney’s struggles with her feelings about her life, the problems in her life that were caused by her complicity with Rose and the bargain she made with Abe—we do learn just what that bargain was. I think she was cheated.

It does provide Sydney with a growing period. Growth in her own confidence and self-esteem. Exposure to her prejudices and fears. And we see the child inside who wants to prove herself. Attempting to use the adult tools to cover her non-Alchemist actions. It’s something of a learning period for all of them as they are exposed to their own problems. Faced with the choice of growth or…continued whining. I don’t understand why Sydney, Adrian, Lee, or Eddie don’t try and help Jill develop more confidence—besides the modeling gig.

It’s weird. All the Alchemists have their heads in the sand when it comes to the Moroi and the dhamphirs. It’s as though only Alchemists and humans are capable of feeling or caring for others. I’m curious if Mead will run with this in future installments.

Sydney is so caught up in her “responsibilities” and proving herself that she has no clue about having fun. That scene where poor Bryan is trying to ask her out…! It certainly backfires on her when Jill goes missing! Sydney also needs to learn to CYA. Memos. Have a written or email report on everything. I did enjoy Sydney’s useful skills as a pharmacist.

This school is weird, too. They notice every little bit about Jill, but they can’t see something as obvious as the metallic tattoos half the school has. Nor do they seem to notice Slade’s out-of-control bashing when he tries out for the team or Laurel’s nastiness toward Jill. Sydney certainly got her back!

The Story
A recent attack against Jill at the Moroi Court forces Vasilisa to protect her sister. Hide her away until they can get the laws changed. And the Alchemists are willing to help conceal Jill from Moroi, Strigoi, and humans. It is, after all, in their best interests to maintain a stable Moroi government.

Jill will need protection—Eddie will be her brother and a fellow classmate while Adrian represents life. Sydney will be her sister and roommate at the school and run interference as well as transport so Jill can feed.

Meanwhile, Keith does everything he can to prick and poke, making Sydney and Jill’s lives miserable. The payback is the Moroi support for Sydney against his nastiness. Even better is Adrian’s collaboration on Sydney’s illegal forays!

The Characters
Sydney Sage is an Alchemist. One of a group of humans who have watched over the mass of humanity, Moroi, dhamphirs, and Strigoi, protecting all from knowledge and exposure. Sydney has actually had a really lousy life with no childhood. She’s uptight…oh, man, is she uptight! A brilliant girl, she has no clue about social interaction. And she’s in trouble with her dad and the Alchemists for having helped Rose and the Moroi. Jared, her dad, is a first-class jerk. Controlling, doesn’t know the meaning of compliment, and completely self-centered. I just love it when his pathetic perceptions get twisted! Zoe is the younger sister Sydney wants to protect. A very angry Zoe. Carly is an older sister passed over by the Alchemists. With a dark secret.

Fifteen-year-old Jillian Mastrano is Queen Vasilisa‘s illegitimate sister and a water power—targeted for assassination. Eddie Castile is dhamphir, a Guardian with stains on his record. Adrian Ivashkov comes along for the ride; he wields spirit as well as a lot of selfishness. Too raw from his breakup. And Jill will need him very badly. Abe Mazur, a crook, a scoundrel, Rose’s father, and a hold on Sydney is helping with the planning.

The Alchemists who arrive in the night at the Sage household include Donna Stanton, Barnes, Michaelson, and David Horowitz who is a hierophant, a priest for the order who performs ceremonies including the tattooing.

Keith Darnell is the Alchemist based in Palm Springs. The apple of Jared Sage’s eye; the worm in it for Sydney. A cocky, rude braggart with an outsized ego. He hates Sydney and will do anything possible to destroy her. His job is to coordinate the assignment and report to their superiors.

Clarence Donahue and his son Lee are the only Moroi living in the Palm Springs area and he has a feeder, Dorothy, he is willing to share with Jill. He’s anti-Moroi government and anti-Guardians; he should be safe.

Mrs. Weathers is the dorm matron. Kristin and Julia are fellow students who become friends with Sydney. Ms. Terwilliger is the history teacher who coopts Sydney as an assistant. Turns out there’s a lot more to Terwilliger than expected. Trey Juarez plans to try out for the quarterback position on the school team…if the tattoos the others are using fail. Greg Slade is one of the guys using the booster tattoos. He’s also Ms. Terwilliger’s PA and, eventually, wants to be friends with Sydney. Micah is another student with an interest in Jill. Ms. Carson is the PE teacher. Lia DiStefano is a designer in town who asks Jill to do some modeling for her.

Rose Hathaway makes a cameo appearance while Dimitri Belikov and Sonya Karp show later.

The Cover
The cover is a deep orangey-red with a half profile of a black-shirted Adrian studying Sydney. Sydney’s green tank-top-clad body faces away from us but Sydney is looking back over her shoulder at us with a cool, calculating look. Her blonde hair is swept back from her face, and her gold tattoo gleams on her cheek. At the bottom of the cover a gold thorny swirl creates and encases the title.

The title seems to refer to the Bloodlines of both Jill and Sydney.

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