Release Date: June 12th, 2012
Pages: 418 pages
Series: Bloodlines #2
Rating: ★★★☆☆/ 3 out of 5
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?
Well isn't this EMBARRASSING. When I finished Bloodlines I was left underwhelmed with the characters and unimpressed with the writing. Now I'm shaking as I type because SYDRIAN. It was apparent within the first few pages of The Golden Lily that the writing had improved considerably. I don't know what happened during the first book to be quite honest. Maybe Mead was just rusty or tired or simply had used up all her fucks to give when that book was written. Because in my humble opinion the writing in that book was a hot mess. However, the writing throughout this book was much more crisp, coherent, and engaging. It wasn't perfect by any means, but it flowed heaps better than its predecessor and annoyed me a lot less. One major problem I had with Bloodlines was that there seemed to be just way too much going on. This may because I jumped into it without reading all of the Vampire Academy books, but with all the characters and their separate dramas going on I was just like what what what what. With TGL, there's even more characters thrown into the mix, but the way it was written was much easier to follow and reminded me of why I love a great ensemble of characters! Previous characters from Bloodlines who I found to be one-dimensional and useless -like this Trey fellow, for instance- were fleshed out this time around and I was pleased. As far as our mains go, I am glad to see that Sydney is growing. She has started acting more like a heroine and less like
Oh, Sydney. You know how people sometimes latch onto to these deeply troubled, brooding male characters in YA and just want to squeeze them and take their pain away? Yeah, I think that's how I feel about Sydney. I've got a hopeless crush on her I just want to kiss her stupid face and say GIRL GET IT TOGETHER WE'RE ALL COUNTING ON YOU. She's still got her flaws, but I was pretty impressed with her character development and the way it was written. There were still some pitfalls, though. Such as one of Sydney's main traits is that she's petrified by seeing vampire magic in action and when Adrian tried to do harmless things in Bloodlines like heal her or talk to her in a dream she went into a full blown panic attack yet in this book when he compels someone right in front of her (which personally I think would be the scariest of all vampire powers???? I mean...mind control hello?) she just sort of proverbially slaps him on the wrist and says Oh, That Darn Adrian! I get that she's slowly getting used to it but that seemed shockingly out of character for her.
I liked Adrian a lot better this time around. In Bloodlines I rolled my eyes at everything he said and couldn't stand the way he was playing the victim all the time. I love a devil may care bad boy type as much as the next girl but I just found him to be generic and blaahhhhhhhhh. I have been told that he got his little heart trampled on in Vampire Academy but I didn't see that firsthand so I didn't have the same amount of poor bb feels for him going into this series the way most people probably did. All that being said, there was enough information about him in this novel that had my poor bb feels going berserk. And his chemistry with Sydney was snowballing into shipping territory. There were some really great scenes between them. The dialogue, the body language, it was all on point. However, I still think it was wildly inappropriate and not even a little bit cute the way he ~called Sydney out~ on not just her eating habits, but her body in general. I'm sorry but I just simply cannot with a man telling a woman what her body should look like. I understand completely that he meant well and that Sydney is down an unhealthy path and it came from a place of compassion, but the way that scene was written was just nope nope nope. He should not have said what he said. Dems da breaks.
Jill is still a stupid idiot. But I try to give her a break because she is quite young. Still, homegirl needs to get it together almost more than Sydney does. Eddie is still...there. He was more interesting to me than in the first book when he could have quite literally been replaced with a jar of peanut butter and I wouldn't have noticed, but I actually managed to almost care about his relationship woes this time around. And Angeline seems feisty, she could do great things maybe probably won't but maybe.
The way this series handles plot is with the old hey this is nothing but actually it's really something. It's like something odd will happen and all the characters will go 'Oh that's just an irrelevant foreshadow don't mind it' and then once you've forgotten all about it it springs up to say HEY REMEMBER ME! THAT WEIRD THING/FEELING/STRANGE ENCOUNTER? NOW I'M A PLOT TWIST IT'S GOOD TO BE HERE. Mead doesn't pull off this type of writing flawlessly, but it's good enough to keep you wanting more. Even though I didn't particularly enjoy Bloodlines I was still interested enough to read the sequel and see what was going to happen. And look at me now. I'm dying to know what's up with Sydney's blood. And I can't wait for shit to hit the fan when The Alchemists realize how friendly she really is with all these vampires. This is how they getcha, YA readers....this is how they getcha...
Review also on goodreads