I wish I was the librarian at Vampire Academy...
There are a decent number of good vampire books out there to keep horror readers happy and occupied between Twilight series readings. I love the Blue Bloods series by Melissa de la Cruz (I can't wait to read the latest, The Van Alen Legacy - check out the trailer on the above author website). And I put up with the gratutious sexual content and quickly dated pop culture references in the House of Night series by mother/daughter team P.C. Cast and Kristen Cast because the plot is so interesting and the Native American element such a great twist and perspective.
But despite my having collected them like any good librarian buying for a high school audience, I had never cracked open the Vampire Academy series by Richelle Mead. I don't know why, maybe the word "Academy" in the title felt like a juvenile knock-off kind of book, but I read an entry from a blogger (with whom I usually agree about books) in which she was RAVING about how much she loves these books and how Richelle Mead really keeps the characters developing throughout the series. (We've all read series where the the third or fourth book tests our loyalty.) So I went the library the next day and picked up the first one - and didn't put it down. In fact, I read the first three in two days (two work days, I might add, which meant I was in the "Sure, honey, I'm going to shut off the light in minute, you get started going to sleep, 'kay?" mode).
And I wasn't disappointed. I was captivated by the complex, and very different world that the author creates with good vampires (the magic-using Moroi) and bad (the immortal and people-killing Strigoi) and the human/vampire hybrids who guard the good Moroi from the Strigoi. Rose Hathaway is a fantastic protagonist with all the necessary qualities for a kick-butt Moroi bodyguard - she's a great best friend, can beat the pants off of most boys in her guarding classes, has a distant and antagonistic relationship with her Mom, doesn't know who her Moroi father is, is drop-dead gorgeous, and has quite the sexual tension with her slightly older and smokin' hot mentor, Dimitri. Her best friend, Lissa, is Moroi royalty and tangled up in plenty of good vampire politics which adds an extra layer of complication as does the magic that Lissa can do - which isn't like anyone else's abilities. Dimitri is my favorite supporting character, however, as his personality is skillfully drawn and has a real depth you don't often see in the romantic foil. That, and the fact that I was surprised that the love scene pages didn't burst into flame while I was reading, really makes this series a page-turner. I might drive to Barnes & Noble to get the latest book, Blood Promise, today.