My feelings on Richelle Mead’s Vampire Academy world fall somewhere between love and obsession, so naturally I scooped up the graphic novel-version of the first book in the series, the aptly named Vampire Academy, as soon as it came out. Then, I didn’t have a chance to read it until this morning, and I am so glad I made the time. (Watch out for SPOILERS.)
I’m not a huge fan of graphic novels because they leave out like 85% of the story, but I really got into this book. The illustrator, Emma Vieceli, did an excellent job conveying a bulk of the story in facial expressions and adapter Leigh Dragoon cut the story down succinctly. Firm images of all of the characters have already been formed in my head, but I was pleased to find that Vieceli’s interpretations didn’t alter my enjoyment of the story. In fact, Christian Ozera and Mason Ashford were cuter than I pictured, so now when I read I’m picturing them as they are in the graphic adaptation.
The Vampire Academy graphic novel begins as the original novel does–with Rose and Lissa on the run from St. Vladimir’s Academy. The girls’ connection, the differences between a Moroi, Strigoi, and Dhampir, the girls’ capture, and their return to the school are all portrayed so well you don’t notice all the small details that are dropped in the graphic novelization. The tense, hostile relationship Rose and Headmistress Kirova share is diluted although the administrator’s fury and disappointment at the girls’ escape is clear.
While the Rose/Kirova relationship is unclear, most of the others are spot on. Lissa and Rose’s relationships with Uncle Victor, Natalie, Mia, and the rest of the general classmates are all easy to read. Rose’s feelings for Dimitri are depicted expertly. Beginning with anger and annoyance, moving to embarrassment and confusion, and ending with lust, caring, and respect, you know where Rose stands in falling for her teacher each step of the way. Christian and Lissa’s meeting and developing relationship show how he fills in to help Lissa feel protected when Rose is unavailable, and how jealous of him Rose becomes.
Other plot points that are accurately conveyed are Rose’s addiction to Moroi blood, Rose’s fear of becoming worn looking like other female guardians and her desire to continue having fun with Lissa rather than jump into a full guardian role, and Lissa’s decline in stability as the animal incidents continue and her willingness to use her magic to help others or get her way (can you say complusion?). Rose’ anger, underlying sensitivity, and protectiveness of Lissa are also very clear. The final confrontation between Rose, Dimitri, Natalie and Victor is well executed and sets up the elder Moroi’s role further in the series.
Rose’s burgeoning interest in St. Vladimir and his shadow-kissed Anna and the strange Ms. Karp are introduced enough to convey their overall meaning to the general story, though these plot points are limited.
While this is one of the best graphic novels I’ve read, there are some points that left me a little disenchanted. The feeders look cracked out, but you don’t get a sense of exactly how wacked out they are or how creepy some of them can be. The severity of Rose’s punishments when she returns to school isn’t discussed, so reading that spending time in church allows her to see Lissa rings a little hollow. Unless you’ve read the novel, you would wonder why they can’t just meet up after class. You don’t see how Aaron and Lissa could potentially get back together (and do for a bit) either, so while Mia’s hatred of the princess is clear, it’s not really clear why she’s such a biatch.
Also, while Rose and Mason are obviously good friends (Can we say hottest couple at the dance? They looked good!), the flirtation and relationship potential miss the mark. It’s clear she’s confused about her feelings for Dimitri, but you don’t see how her feelings for Mason add to her internal conflict.
The Rose/Dimitri enchantment scene is really well done, but there’s no way you get the feeling of passion and lust that Mead is able to depict in her novel.
Viktor’s true danger to Lissa is also not as pronounced due to the shortening of that section in this book, but her rescue is still exciting and Chrisitian gets his moment to shine.
Even with this picky dislikes, Vampire Academy is a fabulous graphic novel. I give it 5 stars.