Vampire Academy - Richelle Mead You know you’re reading Paranormal YA when in the middle of the climax the main character stops everything she’s doing to pursue a Very Important Romantic Hook Up. Normally, I’d roll my eyes and punch something in frustration but here, the make-out session is driven by larger and necessary plot forces, not raging authorial hormones. Welcome to the Vampire Academy series, everyone! Where the typical genre tropes are flipped on their heads, leading to a delightful and subversive reading experience.The greatest trope switcheroo by Mead is her interpretation of the vampire lore. We have all read so many vampire stories. But in this story, there is no teenage human simultaneously fearing and lusting after life as a vampire. In fact, there aren’t really any human characters, a refreshing absence that makes the story strongly based on internal vampire politics instead of their troublesome relationship to humans. Mead has included three subspecies of vampires: the Moroi, who must drink blood but can die naturally; the Strigoi, the evil and immortal vampires; and the Dhampir, a hybrid species between Dhampir/Humans and Moroi who serve as guardians. All these derivations on the vampire species exist in Romanian folklore, but most authors collapse them onto each other to create a single species. Wisely, Mead has not done this. As a result, we get the best of both worlds: murderous vampires with the Strigoi and sympathetic, more humanlike vampires with the Moroi and Dhampir. We have our villains and heroes wrapped up in a single mythological packet. It’s ingenious! Plotwise, I guessed where the story was going, yet I was occasionally surprised. Mead does not dawdle. Things move along quickly. Even though I discovered the direction of this book, I expect it will not be as easy in subsequent novels. Mead has created an interesting world and populated it with interesting characters. There is a ton of material to explore and it’s all quite complicated. I’m already anticipating the plotline that questions the relationship between the Dhampir and the Moroi since the Dhampir, seemingly uncontroversially, are held in an inferior position. The one thing that didn’t impress me was the writing. Mead may be an inventive plotter, but her prose is substandard. It’s very simplistic with a monotonous rhythm. She relies too much on internal monologue so the reader must follow every painstakingly slow turn the main character’s brain takes. I’m not expecting—nor do I even want—prose of the so-beautiful-I-could-cry category, but I would like it to be more polished.Regardless, Vampire Academy is a fun read. Surprisingly fun. (I cannot emphasize how surprised I am that I enjoyed this). It’s more fun than many adult urban fantasies/paranormal romances that I’ve read because it aims for pure entertainment. And I was entertained. Thoroughly.