Book Review: The Golden Lily
Disclaimer: While I tried to keep the The Golden Lily spoilers to a minimum, my review contains major spoilers for those who have never read any of the Vampire Academy books or who have yet to read Bloodlines.
Plot: The Golden Lily is the second Bloodlines book in the spin-off series of the successful young adult series, Vampire Academy, by Richelle Mead.
The Golden Lily returns us to Palm Springs, California and Amberwood, where Jill Dragomir is still being kept hidden away from the safety of Moroi assassins. Alchemist Sydney Sage is still appointed to watch over Jill and the dhampirs as they have to coexist among humans. Although Sydney has always lived strictly by her Alchemist beliefs, that ALL vampires are unnatural and wrong, Sydney’s growing friendships with the Moroi and dhampirs lead her to start questioning her beliefs, while a new evil begins to threaten the lives of her friends: Humans. Sydney also discovers that her blood might hold the key to prevent from becoming Strigoi. Terrified of being “different,” Sydney must choose between her beliefs – and what her heart is telling her to do.
My Thoughts: Even though I loved the first book, Bloodlines, I still felt it wasn’t anywhere as good as Vampire Academy due to Sydney Sage just not being anywhere near as awesome a protagonist as Rose Hathaway, which is why I’m still in shock over how much I LOVED The Golden Lily. It’s usually hard for a sequel to live up to the standards of the first book, but The Golden Lily didn’t just live up to Bloodlines, it surpassed it in terms of storyline and character development, even rivaling the original Vampire Academy novels. Don’t get me wrong, Sydney is still a lot to take in. She’s way too uptight, stubborn in her beliefs, and her idea of fun sounds just about appealing as being captured by Strigoi, but for all her aggravating qualities, there’s something in her naivete that makes her very endearing. She’s also more brave than given credit for in the way shes willing to stand up for her friends, even if her bravery isn’t in fighting, but talking.
The first few chapters of the book made me feel a little bit worried in how good The Golden Lily would be. Sydney starts out dealing with some Alchemist business, which was interesting, but I was anxious to get back to Amberwood, Palm Springs, and Adrian. That’s why I was sort of dismayed when, instead of getting back to all the new characters in the forefront, we are greeted by Dimitri. If you’ve read Bloodlines, you know he and Rose showed up in the final chapter on business. Dimitri stayed in Palm Springs, along with Sonya Karp, in order to run experiments to help find a cure from becoming Strigoi. Admittedly, being greeted by Dimitri, instead of Adrian, left me feeling a little mad due to the fact that he was already prominent in Vampire Academy and I didn’t want to listen to another lead female character build him up anymore. Rose told me enough, that I get it: He’s clearly perfect in every which way! Sorry, I’m getting off on a rant. I like Dimitri, I really do, but within the first few chapters, I felt he already overshadowed Adrian in terms of prominence within the story….I had little to worry about though…Adrian’s time came soon and each time was pure perfection.
It’s hard not to feel bad for Adrian in the first few chapters, having to work with the guy that the girl you used to love, loves. I could actually feel the intense atmosphere coming off the pages as Dimitri and Adrian work together – again, I was kind of put off by the Dimitri/Adrian storyline, but as the storyline progressed, it’s something that became less and less noticeable. At least we don’t have to worry about another romance triangle involving Dimitri. Speaking of romance, a new character is introduced into the fold by the name of Brayden. He’s human and exactly the same as Sydney in almost every way possible. Suffice to say, as nice as he was, I don’t think I’ve ever met a more boring person in a book. Their dates were so boring, that they were actually comical to me, which is a good thing. It’s the only way I found joy in their intellectual conversations, which would have otherwise bored me to tears, but I was able to just shake my head at the absurdity of it all.
As Sydney is discovering romance for the first time, Jill, Eddie, and Angeline are dealing with their own internal feelings back at Amberwood. Jill is still with Micah, but knows it can’t last due to the secret she’s hiding and the taboo of their relationship in the first place. Eddie still has feelings for Jill, but tries to keep them hidden, while also dealing with advances from Angeline, who still hasn’t learned proper etiquette in the human world, which leads to one of the funniest situations in the entire book when she takes out three (human) authority figures with her fist! Whew! The one that seems to be struggling with their feelings the most though is Adrian, which is totally obvious, but Sydney is just too naive to realize he totally has it bad for her.
Ah, Adrian. I’ve always been a huge fan of him, but I just simply fell in love with him in this one. I kind of imagine if a souled Spike (Buffy the Vampire Slayer) had a little brother, it would be Adrian. His personality is so much like Spike’s: The way he uses nicknames, his snark, and the way he loves fiercely and stands beside those he cares for. Which is why I probably blushed and practically swooned over his every line and the fact that Sydney couldn’t see what was going on with him was frustrating! As smart as she is, she’s so dang naïve, that it makes you want to pull your hair out. There’s so much Adrian goodness in The Golden Lily though, but with it also comes anger and heartache. I do not like to see Adrian suffer, I read it enough in the VA series, so that’s why I literally wanted to rip his father to shreds in this book. He yearns so much for acceptance from a parent that clearly doesn’t deserve to have somebody like Adrian as a son. Adrian has so much goodness in him, yet he doesn’t seem to see it in himself as he does in others and it’s a shame.
In between all the relationship issues, Sonya and Dimitri are still trying to figure out the secret as to why those who have been cured of being Strigoi, can’t become Strigoi again. Hoping that if they can find a link, that they can cure people from becoming Strigoi to begin with. Their experiments eventually lead to remembering that Sydney’s blood appalled the Strigoi that attacked her and Adrian in Bloodlines and they want to test Sydney’s blood. Not only would giving her blood go against everything she’s ever believed in, she’s terrified of the idea that something in her might make her “different.” Sydney refuses to help Sonya until a fanatical group of human vampire hunters, who seem to have ties to the Alchemists, attack her and her friends, which makes her question who the real monsters are. Everything she’s ever believed in starts to be questioned, which leads to some unexpected choices by her and some wonderful character development on her part.
Sydney’s flexibility only goes so far in The Golden Lily. Even though she took actions she would have never even considered before and has developed close friendships with the Moroi and dhampirs, she still feels that they are unnatural and wrong. Page 413 leaves me absolutely breathless. I literally got goosebumps reading it and I don’t think that I’ve ever had that happen to me before while reading a book, but Sydney’s immediate reaction on the next pages leaves me absolutely furious with her. I honestly didnt know whether to be angry or cry by the last page. One thing I do know for certain is that it left me craving more!
While the storyline of The Golden Lily was a bit predictable, as was Bloodlines, I highly enjoyed it. It had a really good plot and fantastic character development. I didn’t cover everything in my review, but there’s certain plot points that I’m sure is going to play into the future of the series: The mystery of a certain character. What’s really going on back at the Alchemists headquarters? Will this be the last time we deal with vampire hunters? I’m sure it’s not. Though I focused more on the romance here, The Golden Lily has something for everybody to enjoy. I highly recommend it to those who enjoy urban fantasy and vampire worlds in general.
Richelle Mead posted on her blog that the third book of the series will be titled The Indigo Spell and is scheduled to be released February 12, 2013.