Friday, January 10, 2014

Vampire Academy, Book I, and Vampire Academy the Graphic Novel by Richelle Mead--Now Available on Blu-ray and DVD!

UPDATE TO BLOG POST--06-10-14: Vampire Academy, the book-to-movie, having already hit the big screen, is now available for purchase on both Blu-ray and DVD. On a personal note, having read and reviewed the book and graphic novel, and truly enjoyed them both, I found the movie to fall far below the quality of the books. Although there are some things about the movie I enjoyed, I thought that for the most part it was a bit cheesy and I am not planning on purchasing the movie for my home movie collection. If you are not sure about the purchase investment, consider renting the movie first from any available rental facility (or even on-line service).
Vampire Academy
Vampire Academy Series, Book 1
Book Review by:
Sharon Powers.

     Today we're going to look at two related books, Vampire Academy, Book I and Vampire Academy the Graphic Novel. Let's look at Book 1 first, and then we'll see how the graphic novel does in graphically portraying the Vampire Academy story.

     First, why am I reviewing a YA vampire book? For those of you who have read other posts I've done, you may have already figured it out. I love books (hence, the name of my blog!). All sorts of books, all different formats, different lengths of books, even audio or CD, graphic novels, short stories, hardbound, e-books, and of course, pulp paperback...and all different genres.

Vampire Academy Graphic Novel
by Richelle Mead.
     Even though I am no longer a young adult, I find that reading from the YA genre occasionally, helps me to keep my attitude young and my mind agile. And, importantly, reading across a variety of genres helps anyone to view the world more expansively; I refuse to let myself be caught by one genre only. 

     Then, when I received a request to review Vampire Academy, Book I, I thought it would be a great opportunity to read and review for you both a YA book and a book about vampires. When I went to purchase Vampire Academy, Book I, I saw that a graphic novel existed as a companion book, so I snatched that up as well. That's why we are looking at the book and the graphic novel, side-by-side today.

Lissa, the Moroi Princess, is blonde and is
on the left (Lissa will be portrayed by
Lucy Fry).  Rose, a Guardian-
in-Training, has brown hair and is on
the right of this poster for the up-coming
movie Vampire Academy(Rose will be
portrayed by Zoey Deutch). The movie is
slated to open in theaters on Valentine's
Day, February 14, 2014.
     First, the book: St. Vladimir's Academy is a very special boarding school. It is so special that it is hidden from the general public, oh yes, and enrollment is strictly limited to vampires. As the book opens, Rose Hathaway (a Guardian-in-training) and Lissa Dragomir (a Moroi princess) are on the run from St. Vladimir's Academy, having been on the run for two years--at this point, we do not yet know why they ran away. 

     A special team has been tracking down the two young women, narrowly missing capturing them on a few occasions. Finally, the special team, lead by Guardian Dimitri Belikov, locates the young women and takes them into custody. 

     Upon return to the academy, the two young women are taken before Headmis- tress Kirova for their punishment. The Headmistress tells Lissa she must, as a princess, stay in the Academy where she will be safe and protected. But when it comes to Rose, the Headmistress indicates she wants to expel her, indicating Rose was undisciplined and two years behind in classes.

Dimitri Belikov, leader of the
special team sent to capture
Lissa and Rose and to bring
them back to St. Vladimir's
     Dimitri explains that Lissa and Rose have a special bond, that Rose can sense Lissa's feelings and knows her thoughts--an extraordinary bond between Guardian and charge that hasn't happened for hundreds of years.  Lissa begs for Rose to stay...and uses a special talent, "compulsion," to help convince Kirova to let Rose stay. Finally, Kirova permits Rose to stay on rigid probationary conditions: attendance of all classes, all required trainings for novices, never getting out of line, and every spare minute in special training with Guardian Belikov to catch up, and finally being banned from all social activities. And looking at Dimitri's picture, who can blame Rose for finding Dimitri attractive and desirable?

Dimitri training Rose with
silver stakes. Rose must learn
how to battle the Strigoi--the
immortal undead vampires so
she will be able to protect Lissa.
     So, the young women are back in school and all is well, or is it? Being separated from each other is tough on the young women, but at least Rose can sense how Lissa is feeling, and her whereabouts, through her psychic bond. But things heat up...for Rose and Dimitri, for Lissa, for the school. Lissa suddenly disappears from St. Vladamirs.

Dimitri and Rose have to battle
a "lust" charm cast on them in
order to distract them from
hunting for Lissa.
No one knows who is to blame and how the princess could poss- ibly have disappear- ed from a place that was suppose to be safe and secure for her. Will Rose be able to find Lissa? Will that "lust" charm put on Rose and Dimitri have lasting repercussions? Will the Guardians be able to reach Lissa in time? Does Dimitri really have deep feelings for Rose? Oh, my, my, my! So many exciting developments!

     Early on in the book as Rose is trying to find out about St. Vladimir and Anna's relationship and what "shadow-kissed" means, she is speaking with Mason.
[Mason:] See? They were 'bound' together. He winked. It's code....[Rose:] I don't think so. They're just close. Guys and girls can just be friends. I said it pointedly, and he gave me a dry look. [Mason:] Yeah? We're friends, and I don't know what's in your 'heart and mind.' Mason put on a fake philosopher's look. Of course, some might argue that one can never know what's in the heart of a woman-- [Rose:] Oh, shut up, I groaned, punching him in the arm. [Mason:] For they are strange and mysterious creatures, he continued in his scholarly voice, 'and a man must be a mind reader if he ever wishes to make them happy.' [Rose:] I started giggling uncontrollably...(p. 89).
     Undoubtedly, nothing profound, here, but I loved the quote just because it is all around good fun. Rose does have a sense of humor (as does Mason). It made me laugh, too.

Not everyone agrees on what
kind of material is in the def-
inition of Graphic Novel.
     A graphic novel is, in form, a book bound with material similar to full novels. They can be hardcover or card stock paper and may include topics of non-fiction as well as fiction, or even anthologies. The graphic novel is distinguished from comics or comic books even though the bulk of material consists of drawings. Comic books are on inexpensive bulk paper whereas graphic novels paper quality is much higher, some are truly beautiful with glossy pages and beautiful illustrations. Moreover, comics contain advertising whereas graphic novels do not. Also, graphic novels invariably contain a story line that has a beginning, middle, and end; comic books tend to be episodic in nature. Comic books are much, much shorter than graphic novels (some graphic novels I've seen approach 150 pages). 

     I mention these attributes to graphic novels because some purported-to-be graphic novels are nothing more than a few comics put together with a card stock cover. It is so disappointing when a title is described and billed as a graphic novel and you spend your money expecting to get a graphic novel, but end up with a glorified comic book. One example of this is Thor: The Dark World Prelude, A Graphic Novel by Marvel Comics. I reviewed this (so called) graphic novel in October 2013. Click the link to see that blog post for more information and a full review. That having been said, Vampire Academy, A Graphic Novel is a perfect example of what a good graphic novel can be.  In fact, it received the 2011 Goodreads Choice Award for Best Graphic Novel, and has been on the New York Times, as a bestselling graphic novel.
Vampire Academy, The Graphic Novel is a wonderful example of a graphic
novel at its best: beautiful illustrations, high quality paper, and a well-
adapted story from the original novel.
 Vampire Academy, The Graphic Nov- el, has 144 pages, definitely the size of a graphic novel. The cover is card stock. Inside, the illustrations, by Emma Vieceli, are beautifully por- trayed and on glossy paper that is beautiful to look at.

 The story is adapted by Leigh Dragoon and it is clear that the story is adapted from Vampire Academy (the novel). Because it is a graphic novel, not everything can be included from the full book, size: 340 pages. Leigh Dragoon, the story adaptor, does a great job selecting what to include in the graphic novel. All the important story elements are included. So, all-in-all, good job by everyone involved in the process of creating the graphic novel.

     As I indicate above, the movie will be released in the U.S. on February 7, 2014. After having read the book, I am looking forward to seeing the story on the big screen. I'm always fascinated by turning a book into a movie--sometimes successful, sometimes, not so much. I have high hopes that the movie version of the book, Vampire Academy, will turn out well. Here is the trailer from YouTube for the upcoming movie. Please enjoy:

     The movie will star Zoey Deutch as Rose Hathaway, Lucy Fry as Lissa Dragomir, Gabriel Byrne as Victor Dashkov, Danila Kozlovsky as Dimitri Belikov, Olga Kurylenko as Kirova, and Joely Richardson as Queen Tatiana; The Director is Mark Waters, Writers: Richelle Mead (novel), and Daniel Waters (screenplay).

          I have a wonderful surprise for you. I received my book in the mail in time for me to make an addition to this blog post about Vampire Academy. This book is the official illustrated guide to the upcoming movie. So...what is the book about? To start with, the book is 10.8 x 8.4 inches (.4" thick), features full color illustrations, and is 144 pages long (as large as a graphic novel!). The authors are Brandon T. Snider and Richelle Mead.

     The guide includes the obvious, that is, information about set designs, costume designs, stunts and stunt coordinators, and interviews with the stars. It has all the basic information expected in a good guide. One thing I particularly enjoyed was the section in the book that explained about Dhamphirs, Guardians, Strigoi, and Moroi; in the same section, information about Moroi powers and elemental signs were included as well as Guardian Marks and tattoos (Promise Marks, Molnija, Zvezda, and alchemist tattoos). This information is a wonderful complement to the book.

The appearance of the Guardian's
(and school's) symbols/marks.
     I was particularly interested in what the guide had to say about the adaptation of the book to movie form--after all, adaptation from one form, transmuting it into another, is always important. Author, Brandon T. Snider, indicated that Vampire Academy, the film, "began to take shape" with the bringing on board of Mark Waters to direct the adaptation, and Waters' brother, Daniel Waters, for scripting. As the author reminds us, Mark Waters previously directed the teen comedy, Mean Girls, and Daniel Waters, "having written," Heathers, is bound to influence the movie with some of their well-known dark humor (p.15).

     Richelle Mead's take on dealing with the adaptation is thought provoking, as she admits, "What begins as one vision must sometimes evolve and adapt to accommodate the needs of the story" (p.19). Also interesting, is the fact that she was able to converse with Charlaine Harris (of True Blood fame), about the process of having a book adapted to film. Additional information about the topic of the book's adaptation can be found in the full interview. Specifically, see pp. 41, and 45. So...I'm extremely interested in seeing how the Waters brothers' adaptation turns out on the big screen. It does sound hopeful, but, I guess, we just have to wait and see.

Also in the Vampire Academy: The Official Illustrated Movie
,is information about fighting techniques
used in the movie. 
     The only negative comment about the illustrated move guide that I have is some rather canned responses to a few of the questions. A typical response to a simple question about "What did you like best?" or What was your favorite scene? garnered only "pablum" responses of, "Oh... they're all my favorite." Unlike the other actors, I liked Cameron Monaghan's statement: "Since 'everything' isn't really an acceptable answer, I guess something that excites me is this...large cast of fresh faces" (p.75). In the upcoming movie, Cameron plays Mason Ashford. It is nice to know he has a brain (I guess he can't play the Scarecrow in any future movies! Tee, hee, hee!).

     Brandon T. Snider and Richelle Mead made sure to include other goodies from the author of the book, Richelle Mead. I'm most impressed with the article from Richelle Mead on the book's popularity, the VA Family, pleasing the fans, and fan interaction. Keep in mind that every article in this guide includes tons of information and glamorous, gorgeous photographs. I was very pleased with this book as a movie guide.

     We've looked at the book, the graphic novel, the movie, and the illustrated movie guide. As for the book, itself, I very much enjoyed reading it.  Vampire Academy, by Richelle Mead, was an exciting story, one with an original approach that kicks off this thrilling and exhilarating series. I will look forward to the growing romance between Dimitri and Rose, and wait with anticipation to discover what will happen with the other characters. As much as I enjoyed the story, a better job could have been done with proofreading. I found a few troublesome typos and mistakes that could have easily been corrected with better proofreading. Even so, Richelle Mead's book is a good solid start to the series that has left me wanting more. I rate this book 4.0 stars out of 5.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Richelle Mead.
Ms. Mead is a bestselling author of
American fantasy. She is widely read
and is best known for her series,
Georgina Kincaid, Dark Swan, and
Vampire Academy
. The author currently
lives in Washington. She has a Bachelor
of General Studies from the University
of Michigan, a Master of Comparative
Religion from Western Michigan
University, and a Master of Teaching
from the University of Washington.
Her first novel was Succubus Blues.
She has quit teaching to write full time.
She writes in the fantasy and young
adult (fiction) genres.

4.0 Stars out of 5.

     To the blog follower who suggested I read and review this book, thank you. I love checking out books of interest when they are suggested to me. I hope you, in particular, enjoyed this posting of my blog. If you have another book you are interested in seeing on the pages, here, please submit the title for consideration. My best to you and to all followers of this blog.

Pages: 340
ISBN: 159514174X
Publisher: Razorbill (August 16, 2007)
Language: English
Sold by: Penguin Group (USA) LLC

Until next time...
White Rose.
...many happy pages of reading.


________________________________________________ - Vampire Academy, Book 1, image; - Vampire Academy, Graphic Novel cover; - Vampire Academy poster for the movie with Lissa and Rose; - Dimitri Belikov, leader of the special team sent to get Lissa and Rose; -Dimitri training Rose; - Lust charm; - Graphic Novels; - Vampire Academy, The Graphic Novel; - Trailer for Vampire Academy; - Marks;