I think my main reason for not loving The Golden Lily is due to its inaction. There are moments of true brilliance, where the characters show the sparks of life that I loved in the Vampire Academy series (many of the interactions between Sydney and Adrian, for example), but those moments are fleeting and can't make up for the overall monotonous tone that the rest of the book embodies. I was hoping that we would see more of the conflict happening at Court, perhaps even see them travel back to Court after the dangers faced in Bloodlines, as this safe Californian setting just isn't exciting enough to fully capture my attention.
It also doesn't help that I found many of Sydney and Adrian's interactions, though witty and well-written, weren't necessary to move the plot forward; their sole function was to develop their relationship. Don't get me wrong, I loved their sexual-tension filled moments together.
"Something clenched in my chest, and for a moment, the whole world narrowed down to the green of his eyes."
But romantic tension alone is not enough to propel a story along, especially at the expense of suspense, mystery and danger within the plot. I grew tired of Sydney's complete obliviousness to Adrian's feelings, especially since there was nothing overly-exciting plot-related happening to take my attention off of her naiveté.
Actually, I grew quite tired of Sydney. I really enjoyed her character in Blood Promise, and her character growth from Bloodlines to The Golden Lily has been substantial, but her narrative is without animation, without life. Her emotions are always kept in check by her rationale, and if something can't be explained with facts, she wants nothing to do with it. I just find that kind of cold logic hard to relate to. The only scenes in which she truly came to life were those with Adrian.
"But when my life's on the line - when others' lives are on the line - what good am I? I can't fight. I was completely helpless out there. Just like when the Strigoi attacked us and Lee. I can only stand and watch and wait for people like Rose and Dimitri to save me. I...I'm like a storybook damsel in distress."
With him, she was able to let down her defences and let her emotions leak into her rational. But since their moments together did little to drive the plot forward, I couldn't even fully enjoy them. Her continued self-esteem issues, especially when comparing herself to Moroi, again bothered me as she was constantly holding herself up to an impossible standard. And her lack of interaction with the other characters - Eddie, Angeline, Jill, Trey, Dimitri - was disappointing. They all seemed to be a means to an end, rather then tangible characters of value.
As always though, Richelle Mead has delivered a page-turner. And because Jillian -always aspiring- has written something I wish I had written, I'm just going to leave you with her thoughts:
"As disjointed as my thoughts on this novel seem, I guess they can be all chalked down to this: I'm disillusioned by the Bloodlines series thus far. I want to love these books even as I devour them, but they're rather like not having a full meal: after the fact, I feel hungry for something I didn't receive. No doubt The Golden Lily left me with some moments where I smiled or laughed, but overall my experience was ultimately unsatisfying. Hopefully, the third book, The Indigo Spell, will bring back some more of the storytelling I remember and miss from the Vampire Academy days."