Friday, December 21, 2012

Book Review: The Golden Lily (Bloodlines Series, #2) by Richelle Mead

The Golden Lily (Bloodlines Series #2)

Author: Richelle Mead

Purchase on Barnes and Noble and Amazon.

Synopsis: Sydney Sage is an Alchemist, one of a group of humans who dabble in magic and serve to bridge the worlds of humans and vampires. They protect vampire secrets—and human lives.

Sydney would love to go to college, but instead, she’s been sent into hiding at a posh boarding school in Palm Springs, California–tasked with protecting Moroi princess Jill Dragomir from assassins who want to throw the Moroi court into civil war. Formerly in disgrace, Sydney is now praised for her loyalty and obedience, and held up as the model of an exemplary Alchemist.

But the closer she grows to Jill, Eddie, and especially Adrian, the more she finds herself questioning her age–old Alchemist beliefs, her idea of family, and the sense of what it means to truly belong. Her world becomes even more complicated when magical experiments show Sydney may hold the key to prevent becoming Strigoi—the fiercest vampires, the ones who don’t die. But it’s her fear of being just that—special, magical, powerful—that scares her more than anything. Equally daunting is her new romance with Brayden, a cute, brainy guy who seems to be her match in every way. Yet, as perfect as he seems, Sydney finds herself being drawn to someone else—someone forbidden to her.

When a shocking secret threatens to tear the vampire world apart, Sydney’s loyalties are suddenly tested more than ever before. She wonders how she's supposed to strike a balance between the principles and dogmas she's been taught, and what her instincts are now telling her.

Should she trust the Alchemists—or her heart?

Brought to you by TeamNerd Reviewer Annabell Cadiz

Review: After reading Bloodlines I was definitely interested in seeing where Mead’s new series would go. I have become a fan of Sydney Katherine Sage, the main heroine of the Bloodlines Series, and wanted to know what messes her and the crew would have to get themselves out of. The Golden Lily proved to be better than its predecessor which doesn’t happen often. (Usually the sequel is the choppy one in between a series but Bloodlines was more lackluster than The Golden Lily).

Sydney, Adrian, Eddie and Jill return along with some not-so-new-characters making appearances from the VA Series. Dimitri and Sonya come in at the end of Bloodlines to help aid in protecting Jill after what happened with Lee and Keith. In order to better understand why Strogi can’t be turned back into Storgi once they’ve been turned back in their Mori state, Adrian is forced to team up with Sonya and Dimitri to experiment on reading auras on both Eddie and Dimitri. Sydney also gets a break from constantly babysitting Jill since Angeline, a Keeper, moves into Jill’s dorm to guard over her when she can’t be with Eddie. Sydney also begins a new budding romance with Brayden, a boy who seems to be her intellectually equal. But gradually clues start springing forth that not everything is as it seems and one evening Jill and Sonya are attacked by mysterious men with swords and tattoos of a sun. Sydney sets out on a mission to discover the masked attackers before they become a further threat but just as she’s figuring out the details, Sonya gets taken and Sydney and crew have to find a way to save her before time runs out.

Oh Sydney Sage, how awkward and nerdy thy are and how much I love her character because of it! I had a lot more fun with Sydney in The Golden Lily. She is beginning to open up more and showcasing her insecurities as well as her doubts over the Alchemists. Sydney was brought up homeschooled, away from much social interaction and under the tyranny of her father so when it comes to having a normal date with a boy, Sydney is completely lost! I couldn’t stop laughing at how confused Sydney became over her dates with Brayden, how she kept misreading certain queues and over analyzing everything. She reminded me very much of myself *wink* I like that Sydney is beginning to question more what the Alchemists stand for and what she has already been taught. She is starting to realize not everything she’s always believed has been right and I like that she’s growing into her own strength. It was fun being able to see her start to loosen up. She’s always so tightly wound and overly critical, especially about herself.

Adrian is the best character to the series. He has his well-known wit and bad boy charm. He’s quick with his retorts and can have a reader laughing from the moment he comes onto the scene. But the book also explores more of Adrian’s vulnerabilities and insecurities; he isn’t the playboy everyone seems to think. There’s a crappy relationship his dad he has never been able to fix, his mother is locked up for some evil crimes she committed and Adrian is desperate for answers from her, and then there’s Sydney making him even more confused about his feelings. I liked that Adrian is more broken in The Golden Lily and the mask of indifference he’s always wearing is starting to fade away.

Eddie shines a great deal better in the sequel than he did in the first book. He has much more of a personality. He’s cute and sweet and good. I want him to be able to find the happiness he deserves with the person his heart longs to be with. Angeline is a fun member added to the mix. She cracked me up with her complete lack of understanding in social interactions and boys. She has a major crush on a certain someone but goes about it totally the wrong way. I also like how she doesn’t understand that wearing short shorts that look more like underwear isn’t good attire for school and trying to punch a boy in the face isn’t the way to get his attention. She was just too funny! Then there’s Jill who still lacks any real personality. She faded even more in this book and even though the focus of protection is supposed to be on her, there isn’t much going on with her character other than her woes of romance so she gets thrown into the background. I would have expected to read more drama with her character, to read something happening to her instead of Sonya but Jill barely exists in the sequel. She’s also ditzy and shallow. She decides to break things off with Micah but right in the same breath decides there’s another guy she is going to go after *rolls eyes* The girl should be focusing on getting trained and learning to ACTUALLY fight instead of constantly dating.

I liked how much more of a role Trey played in the story. He shares a lot of similarities with Sydney having grown up with a stern, overbearing father as well who expects too much and who is as closed minded as Sydney’s father. I liked the way the author created a connection between Trey’s world and Sydney’s and I’m curious to know what will happen as both those worlds continue to interact. I am a bit weary though that the author will use Trey to create some kind of predictable, pointless love triangle. I hope she doesn’t.

There isn’t much action in The Golden Lily which makes sense since the book is built gradually to show the bonds being formed and Sydney discovering everything she’s always believed about vampires may not all be true. The Bloodlines Series seems to be built more as a suspense series than a paranormal/fantasy battle of vampires versus Alchemists. There are good action scenes in the book though when they are presented but eighty percent of the book is centered around putting together the clues Sydney and the others find as well as Sydney branching outside her comfort zones and learning more about herself.

I’m glad Dimitri didn’t play too much of a role or else that would have been annoying. I wasn’t too in love in with his character. He’s just too dramatically made to fit the quote on quote perfect guy and comes off rather boring. The plot of the book is pretty predictable but that didn’t take away from the enjoyment of reading what happens. There are moments the book does get a bit dull and seems to be wondering around without a point but for the most part the book is written well. The pacing remains at a steady pace and picks up when the action scenes kick in. The suspense is well done, especially closer toward the end with what happens with Sydney and crew when they need to rescue Sonya. The ending, although expected, was still a bit annoying. It seems the author will be forcing Sydney and Adrian to fight against their feelings until the end of the series when right from the first book they are into each other. Hopefully the author doesn’t drag it out and just lets it happen in the third book. I would also like to see more action scenes, especially concerning Jill since she is the main person needing protection, and more involvement from the Alchemists. I also want to know what will happen with Sydney’s discoveries, both about her blood and the strange things she’s able to do that Ms. Terwilliger has been exposing her to. It will be interesting to see what happens between Sydney and the Alchemist because of it.

The Golden Lily is built on in depth characterization, intellect, and suspenseful plotting. It’s not a book catered to those who want a book more action focused but that’s what I like most about it.

I’d have to say I’m starting to become a fan of Richelle Mead, reluctant as I am, and I hope she doesn’t ruin it by making Indigo, the third book, stupidly follow what so many young adult books are doing nowadays.

For fans who are just discovering Richelle Mead as an author, definitely give the Bloodlines Series a try!

Some Favorite Adrian Quotes
“What about those other Greek women?” asked Adrian. “The flashy smart ones.” His forehead wrinkled, as though it were taking every ounce of his brain to come up with the word he wanted. And, to my astonishment, he did. “The hetaerae.” I honestly hadn’t believed he’d retained anything from our conversation in San Diego. I tried not to smile.

“The hetaerae? Brayden was even more astonished than I was. He gave me a scrutinizing look. “Yes . . .yes. I suppose—if such materials were hypothetically possible in that era—that this is something you’d expect to see find on a hetaera instead of the average Greek matron.”

“And they were prostitutes, right?” asked Adrian. “These hetaerae?”

“Some were,” agreed Brayden. “Not all. I think the usual term is courtesan.”

Adrian was completely deadpan. “So. You’re saying my sister’s dressed like a prostitute.”
~Adrian and Brayden, Ch. 14, pg. 238

“Rose once told me about this poem she’d read. There was this line, ‘If your eyes weren’t open, you wouldn’t know the difference between dreaming and waking.’ You know what I’m afraid of? That someday, even with my eyes open, I still won’t know.” ~Adrian, Ch. 14 pg. 241

“He shouldn’t have said that,” repeated Adrian, eerily serious. He leaned his face toward mine. “I don’t care if he’s not the emotional type or the complimentary type or what. No one can look at you in this dress, in all that fire and gold, and start talking about anachronisms. If I were him, I would have said, ‘You are the most beautiful creature I have ever seen walking this earth.’” ~Adrian to Sydney Ch. 14 pg. 247

“Not the craziest thing I’ve ever done.” He smiled as he looked up at me. His eyes grew slightly unfocused, as though they were seeing more than just me. “What’s a little crazy here and there? I’m supposed to be doing experiments . . . why not see which is brighter: your aura or the sun?” ~Adrian to Sydney Ch. 18 pg. 308

About the Author: Scorpio Richelle Mead is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of urban fantasy books for both adults and teens. Originally from Michigan, Richelle now lives in Seattle, Washington where she works on her three series full-time: Georgina Kincaid, Dark Swan, and Vampire Academy.

A life-long reader, Richelle has always loved mythology and folklore. When she can actually tear herself away from books (either reading or writing them), she enjoys bad reality TV, traveling, trying interesting cocktails, and shopping for dresses. She's a self-professed coffee addict and has a passion for all things wacky and humorous.

Where to Find the Author

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