I enjoyed this book a lot, which is surprising given my first reaction to the book. Mead begins her story by throwing her readers smack dab into the characters' lives. There is no introduction or back story given at all - I felt like I was just plopped down into where Lissa and Rose were, and all the terms (such as Moroi and Dhampir) flew at me. Honestly, I felt like I had picked up the second or third book in the series and because of that... I put it aside and only picked it back up because it happened to be the only book I had with me. And I'm glad that I did!
The story line is convoluted but intentionally so. Reading Vampire Academy felt like Mead wanted us to piece together what was going on and to come up with our own theories. Despite the fact that this initially put me off, it compelled me to keep reading once I got over the first introductory chapters. I kept making my own guesses as to what was going on, why things were happening and who could be behind it all, and even though I was mostly wrong, this strategy sucked me in.
I also really enjoyed the characters. They are extremely easy to relate to despite the fact that they are mythical creatures. Rose was a kick ass main character who stood up for herself and her loved ones (okay, Lissa) at all costs... which was extremely refreshing. I think it's pretty rare to find a totally independent and redeeming female lead in the YA category. Rose does not disappoint. Dimitri is totally sexy. I don't think that I need to say anymore.
I would recommend this book to people who enjoy more mature YA books. Please be warned - this book definitely has mature content (sex, drinking, language) so I would discourage any younger readers. I purchased this book during Border's close out sales but I will not purchase the rest of the series - I will be borrowing it from the library. It was really fun and interesting (a breath of fresh air from the Twilight-esque vampires).