In several…several generations, our great-great grandchildren might sometime study the pop culture of the early twenty-first century. They would see Obama’s Change campaign, and all the puns and parodies that came with it, the “iPhone cult” and the touchscreen cellphones that followed, and possibly even the Kanye-Taylor VMA catastrophe.

TwilightIt is guaranteed that the Twilight-Vampire Phenomenon will be a noticeable topic. Following the release of Twilight and its subsequent popularity, vampire books began to leap forward onto the shelves of local bookstores. I know that every time I walk into my nearby Barnes and Nobles (which happens to be about once every two weeks or so), I stumble upon yet another vampire series.

Of course, a lot of these “copycat series” sparked their own successes–most noticeably books like the House of Night series and the Vampire Diaries, a series that  broke out from the vampire wannabe pack  with a hit television series.

It’s sad to say, but the vampires of post-Twilight are often written off as bad imitations of Stephenie Meyer’s Cullen family and friends. Twi-hards alike split into their Team Edward and Team Jacob alliances and list all others as a waste of their time.

A book that surpasses the Twilight series by ten fold is personally my favorite vampire series of all time: Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead. Currently released are four books: Vampire Academy, Frostbite, Shadow Kiss, and Blood Promise.

The last book released, Blood Promise, was on my iCal for the longest time. And the sequel to this spectacular book, Spirit Bound, is on my countdown calendar as well.

If you don’t know what the Vampire Academy series is about, let me tell you. In this fictitious world, the vampires of the world are split into three sections: Moroi, Dhampir, and Strigoi. The factions live in secrecy from

the human population and are quite different from the sparkling, golden-eyed Cullens in Twilight. The Moroi are the vampire elite, protected by their half-blooded cousins the Dhampir in a world plagued by the evil Strigoi. Mead’s series centers around a young Dhampir teen bodyguard-in-training, Rose Hathaway. She has to deal with the arduous trials of becoming a professional bodyguard, a.k.a a Guardian and the forbidden love she feels for her instructor, Dimitri Belikov.

Blood Promise

Guide to Mead Vampires:

Moroi: Moroi are mortal vampires, so they can die. Mead characterizes them as usually pale, tall, and thin. They possess control over the four elements (earth, water, fire, air), Although a few rare Moroi can posses the fifth, spirit. After a certain amount of training in all four elements, Moroi usually begin specialization in one specific element. They do have enhanced strength and reflexes, but since they depend mostly on the Guardians for protection, they do not use this to their full capacity. Moroi must drink blood to survive, but they are able to eat human food as well. They can go out in sunlight as well, but at great cost to their strength. The usual stereotypes don’t effect Moroi — e.g. garlic, graveyards, holy crosses (in fact, most Moroi go to church).There is a set of noble, Moroi families that are basically the nobles of the vampire world.

Dhampir: Dhampir are, in short, half-vampires. They are the genetic offspring of a Moroi-Human/Moroi-Dhampir pairing. As such, they inherit the enhanced abilities of Moroi (but no magic) but they do not need to drink blood nor fear the sunlight. As such, they are given the duty of protecting the Moroi (their race cannot survive without them). Dhampires cannot mate with each other for some genetic reason, so many Dhampir women resort to having one night stands with promiscuous Moroi men in order to get pregnant–leading to the term “blood whores.” As such, most Dhampir women stay at home watching over their children, while Dhampir males go to school to become Guardians. If a Guardian kills a Strigoi, they receive a tattoo as a symbol of their kill. After graduation, they receive a promise mark specific to the school they came from.

Strigoi:These are the classical evil vampires of Mead’s vampire world and the closest in characteristics to the Twilight vampires. How? They are immortal, red-eyed, bloodsucking creatures of the night. Strigoi are  the evil, immortal vampire that are the exact opposite of the Moroi. Strigoi cannot be born but created through two methods: 1. A Moroi kills someone  on purpose, thus corrupting their souls and turning them into their evil counter parts. and 2. A Strigoi sucks all the blood from someone (Strigoi can by human, Dhampir, or Moroi)  and then feeds some blood back to that person. This reanimates the person’s body with “dark magic.” Despite the term, Strigoi do not actually posses the  special  nature magic that the Moroi have. Instead, they are incredibly strong and fast and posses a frowned-upon Moroi skill of compulsion (the act of compelling someone to do whatever you want). Strigoi need to drink blood and unlike Moroi, they kill their victims.

The world Mead has created in her books is vivid and unique and realistic. One of the troubles I have with the Twilight series is that it isn’t realistic. Okay, I admit I love Meyer’s books, but it’s like a love of…school. You sometimes like to go, but a lot of times, it just annoys the hell out of you. I like re-reading parts of Meyer’s books that don’t have Bella unrealistically sacrificing herself for everyone else’s sake. I don’t get how a teenage girl can be so selfless! Even the nicest people in the world aren’t that cool when your boyfriend tells you that he is an immortal bloodsucker from the the 1900’s. It’s just disturbingly fake. On several accounts, I’m left wondering if Meyer herself was just an angsty teen, because that’s what she makes Bella out to be–an overly innocent girl who loves an old truck, would move away from her mother and a new stepfather because she cares, and probably has horny thoughts for a werewolf and vampire at the same time.

But I’m not supposed to be chronicling my annoyance over the Twilight series. Trust me. I have nothing against Twi-hard fans. Duh! My birthday is November 20th! That’s the day New Moon is coming out and the day before Twilight did! I had my birthday party at the movie theater! Pre-show!

But whatever. I just wanted to go over the Vampire Academy series. I truly loved reading every second of the book. My only negative comment is that it seems like forever between book releases.

My overall rating of the Vampire Academy series: 9.5/10