The Golden Lily (Bloodlines #2)
A lot of plot threads revealed throughout both Bloodlines and this one come together by the book's end. Richelle Mead also uproots a lot more and leaves readers with a lot of questions. Some of the more major plot points were fairly predictable, I called them back in book 1. Still, it was fun to see how Sydney and the gang would come to the same solutions.
Sydney grows immensely through The Golden Lily - her growth is so much fun to watch, because I simply love her as a character. Her sudden immersion into the human world is so different and she simply tries to live it the only way she knows. I love that the story is told from her point of view because she is such an awesome character. She's so different from Rose - Rose is all action, where Sydney is so careful. She calculates everything. And ADRIAN is another character we see lots of in The Golden Lily. It's this side of Adrian that was never explored in the Vampire Academy series and now we get to see it all! It is so endearing.
I am SO antsy for The Indigo Spell. I love the concept of the Alchemists and I think that's the book that will finally give me my answers. While readers do get a little more on the Alchemists in The Golden Lily, everything is still pretty hush hush about them. I just want to know everything about them, more importantly what it'll take for Sydney to break away.
The Golden Lily was awesome! So many second books in a series tend to drag or seem like tideovers, but that is not the case here! Richelle Mead is one fantastic author and she just raises the stakes even higher. By the books end, I was like a knot tied so tight. I just was so into the book. Everything is bigger and better in this one and in The Indigo Spell, things are only going to get better!
I didn’t started reading this book with high expectations cause I was disappointed with the first instalment. Maybe I expected it would be like Vampire Academy which I adore. Maybe I wanted Sydney to be more like Rose. But VA days are over (for now).
What is new in this book? Well. Sydney has her own room now. Angeline is staying with Jill. Adrian is having trouble with accepting the fact Dimitri and Sonya are doing their research at his place. Also, it seems like Sydney and Adrian are spending more time together and are getting along pretty well considering they are two very different individuals. But if you look closely, you can tell they have similar problems-with their fathers. They are insecure and feel misunderstood.
Sydney made me laugh a couple of times. She would say so funny things with a straight face I couldn’t help myself and crack up. She is still on a diet even though she is size 4. I can’t remember when I…nevermind. Syd used to panic when others were talking about vampires but I feel like she is finally ready to call Jill, Eddie and Adrian her friends and not just vamps.
Jill was, ahh, well, Jill. Not much has changed about her since Bloodlines. She is still that girl who always has a boyfriend. The fact that she is 15 does not mean she should not use her brain. I swear, sometimes, she acts like a freaking monkey. She is all smiling-blushing- head-bowing bimbo.
As for Adrian. *sigh* My tortured prince. He surprised me. He has grown some serious balls. *snickers* He is trying to stay away from alcohol and cigarettes. But it doesn’t always go smoothly. It’s a day by day battle. He is also working on his paintings. Who could be responsible for this improvement?
All in all, I was not disappointed The Golden Lily. It was slow paced and for once I had no problem with that fact. I enjoyed every scene. It was worth the wait.
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."
From my experience with reading the Vampire Academy series and Bloodlines, this first scene in The Golden Lily is obviously some heavy handed foreshadowing of things to come and will not be the last we hear of The Re-Education centre in the series. Lucky for Sydney though it’s the last she has any sort of connection with it for the rest of the book because after her visit with the Alchemists she heads back to Palm Springs. Not only to where Jill, Eddie, and Adrian are but also Jill’s new guardian Angeline and Spirit researchers Sonya Karp and Dimitri, Adrian’s former romantic rival.
There wasn’t a lot of action in The Golden Lily, just like there wasn’t a lot of action in Bloodlines which at first I thought I was going to have a problem with because if there isn’t much action how interesting could the story possibly be? Very, this may not be an action or plot oriented novel but the characters definitely keep it interesting. Just like Sydney developed as a character in Bloodlines she continues to do so here and not only her but Adrian our rich, witty, laidback playboy. While Sydney learns to shed her rigid upbringing, Adrian, who may still resorts to his old vices, also continues to show growth and maturity while still dishing out hilarious one liners.
The witch storyline that was introduced near the end of Bloodline continues strong in this second instalment of the series, and not only that but the initially dismissed notion of their being vampire hunters is also disproved. Many members of the group could be in danger but they are distracted by their own agendas. Jill may be a Moroi princess in hiding but she is still a teenager distracted by boys and her own low self-esteem, Eddie is a guardian but he still can’t ignore his feelings for Jill, Angeline is a dhampir with raw talent but her own upbringing is causing the group problems at school, and Sonya and Dimitri are determined to find a way to use Spirit to put an end to strigoi but their determination constantly puts Sydney in an awkward position.
The Golden Lily was a completely predictable read, which is why I could not give it five stars but the characters and the romance almost make up for it. I am not much for romance in books but it was definitely my favourite part of this novel, it was subtle and the build-up is gradual and very realistic and because of it, the last chapter of this book was definitely my favourite part. I have re-read it about four times already and think it’s perfect. I definitely need to get my hands on The Indigo Spell.
Fun and loveable characters
The ending is totally heartbreaking, and I'd been waiting two books for something to finally happen. I can't wait to see the effect this has on the characters in the next book.
Bring it on!
So, notice that my biggest complaints were really praises for Richelle's writing? Yeah, safe to say that I totally enjoyed this book. Sydney is such a different main character from Rose, but she is still compelling, and it is such character growth to watch her struggle against what she has been taught her whole life and what she sees with her eyes, and feels with her heart. Are humans really capable of being as evil as vampires? Would you take a room of vamps that you trust over a group of humans that seem to be out to get you? Her answers were once crystal clear, but now, more and more she is changing.
It is really hard to write the review without spoiling anything, but I loved to watch Sydney and Adrian. Getting the closer view into Adrian and what he is dealing with is exactly what I wanted at the end of Vampire Academy, and this series is delivering. His one-liners are fantastic, and we get to see a deeper and more intense side of him that VA only hinted at.
I love Richelle Mead's young adult books (I haven't tried the adult ones yet, so can't speak for them), and she does not disappoint with this fast paced, page turning sequel and spin off.
I love Richelle Mead. Her Vampire Academy series is my second-favorite fantasy series (only Harry Potter beats it), and I own every one of her young adult novels. (That currently amounts to eight.)
So I guess it shouldn’t be too much of a surprise that I loved The Golden Lily.
Mind you, I didn’t love it as much as her other books. There was something lacking in The Golden Lily that I always looked forward to in her other YA novels: the element of surprise. Richelle Mead had always managed to catch me off guard countless times in her Vampire Academy series and a few times in Bloodlines. But I never felt that jolt of surprise when reading The Golden Lily.
I might be giving away a spoiler right now, but honestly I don’t think it matters too much if I do. But the thing is, The Golden Lily involves vampire hunters. Cool, huh? I loved how Richelle Mead managed to address another of those “vampire myths” in this book, so I was pretty happy with the plotline. But, unlike the characters in the novel, I knew vampire hunters was real in the world of Moroi, Strigoi, and dhampirs. With Clarence’s warnings about how he was being hunted by vampire hunters in the past, I could tell. Because coincidences don’t happen in books.
The plotline would have been perfect if only it included that Richelle Mead-esque element of surprise.
On the other hand, I adored the characters. Sydney’s view of vampires has really changed, to the point that she actually likes them. In the Vampire Academy series, we never had that as a problem because Rose was half-vampire herself, but it’s interesting to see Sydney change. She’s still that know-it-all Alchemist, but she’s becoming a tolerant-of-vampires know-it-all Alchemist.
And Adrian. Oh, sigh. Poor, poor Adrian.
The romance in this novel definitely made up for the lack in Bloodlines. Sydney’s caught in a bit of a love triangle, though she doesn’t know it herself. Brayden or Adrian? Of course, she has to be with Adrian (I love them together!), but they still have that pesky issue of human vs. vampire. Sigh. And of course, I wasn’t a big fan of Brayden. He’s annoyingly smart. (Never thought I’d call someone that, hmm.)
The romance was also upped in the supporting characters. Jill is dating Micah, while Angeline (newly recruited former Keeper) tries to get Eddie’s attention. But Eddie longs for Jill. Quite a big circle here, hmm?
That ending made me want to cry. Because it is a cliffhanger for two of the romances in this novel. Urghh.
The Golden Lily was absolutely enchanting and did not lack in action or romance. A masterpiece–but it did fall short of my expectations, because, after all, it’s a Richelle Mead book. And Richelle Mead books simply must be perfect.
Source: Hardcover bought by reviewer
Richelle Mead leads us back to Palm Springs and back into the lives of Jill, Eddie, Sydney, Adrian, and Angeline. We also see more appearances from Dmitri and Sonya Karp than we did in Bloodlines.
Sydney goes through a lot of personal and emotional growth in this sequel. She not only learns more about the real history of Alchemists, but she also starts to realize that she has more loyalty and tolerance for the Moroi and Dhampir races…and that scares her because she doesn’t want that info to get back to the Alchemists because they would send her to the re-education center (which she is terrified of). The prejudice that her upbringing taught her (both from her father and the Alchemists) is very hard for her to overcome and she battles with it every day. The decisions that she makes along her journey in this book will make you…. (Nope, not going to give spoilers, it’s MUCH better to not know what’s going to happen – trust me, it will be worth the wait.)
And let us not forget about the sexy, and ever-inebriated, Adrian. For anyone who fell in love with Adrian during the Vampire Academy series (or even if you just discovered him in Bloodlines), be prepared to completely swoon over him yet again. We’ve all adored this sexy man who seems like he’s in a constant battle with his mental health (thanks to his spirit magic), but in this book Adrian takes it to an all new level. I won’t give more details and spoil the plots twists & turns, but just know that hiding his feelings behind his sardonic quips and his constant smoking and drinking just isn’t going to cut it this time.
Buy Golden Lily and get lost in between the pages. I will definitely be reading this book a couple more times before Bloodlines #3: The Indigo Spell comes out on February 12, 2013!!!