I was already not much enjoying Richelle Mead’s VAMPIRE ACADEMY when it crossed my line into unredeemable.
My initial complaints were pedestrian: the prose meant to evoke the characters’ deep lust for one another was so generic that it mostly provoked my befuddlement and laughter (“His hands and lips took possession of my body, and every touch was like fire on my skin”); I didn’t feel for the characters.
The entire book — its plot and any emotional punch it aspires to — is premised on your caring about the deep friendship between two characters, but since we learn little specific about either of them, I didn’t really see why they felt for each other. Rather, I kept being told that they did. A lot. More than any other friends in the history of human companionship. Memo received; motivation lost in the mail.
Nevertheless, I kept reading because the world was sort of interesting. Mead’s book has two kinds of vampires — one evil, one not, but with the potential to turn — and the half-humans who devote their lives to guarding the good ones. It’s an interesting social structure and I saw potential there, if unrealized by the actual book. Sometimes that’s enough.
But then! Our protagonist gets one up on her rival by circulating the news that said rival’s parents are — can you bear the horror? — janitors! And when this hasn’t completely vanquished the girl, our would-be hero clinches the rival’s social exclusion by spreading word of her sexual dalliances. Apparently the uppity slut had it coming. At least, that’s the message I took from Mead, who doesn’t seem to be exploring her protagonist’s dark side as much as cheerfully affirming it.
Maybe it’s just me, but I find it hard to root for an “underdog” who mobilizes the grossest elements of sexism and class snobbery to win her petty schoolyard disputes, without the slightest hint of either remorse or comeuppance. I lost all respect for the character and the book.
So, question for the readers: what does a book have to do to become unredeemable in your eyes? And does that mean you stop reading? (I finished VAMPIRE ACADEMY, but angrily.)
And now, to descend to a much pettier level of complaint: these books have a love interest named Dmitri who you’re supposed to believe is the hottest thing since ice caps started melting into the ocean. But the model they use on the second and third books (which I haven’t read, thank you) is just not hot. At all. Whereas the female model for the first book is, in that she looks exactly like Angelina Jolie.
Judge for yourself: