“Wasn’t that kind of the basis of passion? I didn’t know that either. The only thing I knew for sure was that this kiss had been a lot like the last one. Nice, but it didn’t blow me away. My heart sank. There was something wrong with me. Everyone was always going on about how socially inept I was. Did it extend to romance as well? Was I so cold that I’d spend my life never feeling anything?”
Sydney Sage is back in the second installment of her spin-off series Bloodlines. In our previous chapter, the first of the series, we were shown quite a bit of action and familiar faces from the beloved Vampire Academy series and I’ve never been more excited! After an action packed fight involving a duo of Strigoi, and one former Strigoi who set his heart on changing back to the deadly monster he once was, and lastly some, shall we say, unexpected flames–we’re more than aware of dangers our gang just may be facing.
But can Eddie, Jill, Adrian and Sydney continue to keep their identities safe from the world? And can they keep each other safe?
Now that Sonya Karp, Dimitri Belikov and a very persistent Angeline, who readers will remember from Last Sacrifice as one of the Keepers, are thrown into their little family mix the stakes are higher than ever. Sonya seems to be in danger by a group of men who claim to have known her during her time as a Strigoi and an attack not long after which they only narrowly escaped.
Toss in a few romantic connections being formed or forgotten, a designer that just won’t take no for an answer, a little study/experiment Sonya is toying with by comparing different things (including blood) and a teacher dead set on training Sydney in magic–well, there’s a hell of a lot happening in Palm Springs. Richelle Mead is only getting started in the story she’s telling.
In The Golden Lily many topics are tackled for Sydney Sage including her aversion to the Moroi and dhampir race, what has changed in this regard and what hasn’t, as well as dating for the first time, nods to potential eating disorders, magical powers, vampire hunters (what do you mean they’re real!?), self defense classes, driving lessons and much, much more.
There were a lot of things that I loved about this one. As always, Mead’s writing is beautiful.
Our plots are all weaved together in the best ways possible and I like that we continue to see growth. I liked that the inclusion of Angeline seemed to be so well thought out. She isn’t used to the environment she’s put in and I think that she’s a good contrast to the changes the other characters are facing. I hope we see more of her and more growth.
Angeline’s take on changing her clothing for the hot weather is hilarious, I mean: “You made your own jean shorts…with a butter knife?”
And the same can be said at her attitude, her awkward way of showing her crush on Eddie (which makes things uncomfortable for him) and the so-called brawl she starts a school assembly.
On that topic, I also enjoyed how Sydney handled it with the school and how as usual she saves the day. I feel like Sydney is definitely the mother of the group and it’s a delight to see how much more she takes on that role and tries her hardest to shake the way she was raised. She genuinely cares for their little group and it becomes more and more obvious.
I do have a little negative thought for this one: I am kinda disappointed in how little Jill and Eddie were in this one.
They were definitely always there–Jill and Eddie both confide in their potential feelings for each other to Sydney which was cute because it reminds us again that they really have become something of a family.
Jill’s biggest plots were about Micah and their relationship, which is over before it really begins due to their differences in race and Jill’s inability to tell him anything. And bits of Adrian’s feelings towards Sydney leaking through their bond and getting voiced by her instead of him.
There’s also her interest in a modeling career she can’t have right now and a nod to how young and naive she is when that pain in the ass designer Lia basically tricks her into a photo shoot. (Which could cause some serious trouble in the future if anyone from their world sees it and is tipped off to Jill’s location.)
But honestly. I really am torn on Jill and Eddie’s budding and potential relationship. There’s the age gap which isn’t all that bad compared to Rose/Dimitri but there’s still something I can’t quite put my finger on. I think they’d be cute, but, you know.
And really the same can be said Angeline and Eddie and they were seen holding hands and noting the fact that he seems to have given in [try] to date her. I feel like 15 years old is so young and while he’s still in his teens it’s just… I don’t know.
I love Eddie and Sydney’s friendship, though. I mean… a lot. I really hope it sticks and develops because there’s something there that just works with the two. Like, I can see both growing to care for each other in the way that siblings do.
Which is awesome because I feel like Sydney has always been so isolated and Eddie is lonely even now after the months since Mason, his best friend and Rose’s ex, died in the second VA book. I think that in some way they both need someone deeply to care for each other and that’s why their scenes are important to me.
Now, back to Sydney.
I like the cute little dynamic she has with her family and then the people she’s befriended in school. Her little circle of girlfriends and Trey trying to set her up on a date and give her pointers is so cute. I loved the scene where Trey tries to talk her into dating this guy who is perfect for her and then following up to when she actually goes on more than one date with him.
The thing about it, though, is that Brayden is insufferable.
I don’t like how he handles a lot of things–the way he says different things and how he acts. There’s a stuck up “I’m smarter than you” air to him. It's just unbearable especially when you consider how dull he actually is. My biggest complaint about him is how he acted about Sydney's family "problems", the little comments he made about her sugar intake and the whole costume thing.
Sure, he’s a lot like Sydney in some ways and on paper they would have been cute, but I feel like she is on another level of maturity and will continue to grow whereas with him it’s almost too easy to see he’s going to be one of those guys who never really changes. Which is why it would never work.
My favorite part of Brayden was that he was so forgettable and I loved that everyone kept getting his name wrong except for Trey and Sydney. I was laughing so hard because, c’mon, it’s funny and he kinda deserves it anyways. Adrian’s reactions to Brayden, however, were a close second. I’m not usually here for men picking fights with other men because of feelings or whatever but those scenes were awesome.
Then again, I’m in love with Adrian, so.
We’ll get to the topic of Adrian again soon. I want to tackle two things, first. Sydney’s growth–let’s talk about that. I like how her developments are very, very organic. She’s still scared and hesitant towards a lot of things and her thoughts always go back to how she was raised to think, but there’s a lot of improvement in it because I think she’s starting to see the world through different eyes.
It’s great and I think we can expect more based on her run ins with The Warriors of Light–a group of vampire hunters that were once part of Alchemists. I think she’s handled it all really well; the discovery of vampire hunters, the danger she puts herself in to rescue Sonya from a terrible fate and the fact that she used magic to help look. I am excited to see more come from her magic and think that it was horribly manipulative how her teacher brought her into the exploring of magic bit but it really does have its uses.
And could this magic have something to do with how her blood isn’t good tasting to Strigoi?
Another thing I liked about this one is: I particularly liked the scenes she had with Trey.
Their friendship is pretty solid, given their start and I wasn’t all that surprised during the reveal that he knew about the vampire world and was actually a hunter. Trey isn’t a bad guy, though. There’s a lot of parallels between Sydney and Trey that I enjoyed. I hope this can be worked in and that it won’t change their friendship too much.
Now. Let’s get back to the goods. ADRIAN. AND. SYDNEY.
Okay. All right. Give me a moment to grab my wits. Oh, I loved their scenes in Bloodlines but something about The Golden Lily is so much more… I don’t know. Magical? Fun? Sweet? Real?
I think that they were bound to get tied together due to what they survived in Bloodlines but I like that their friendship and all grows in this one. I like the spark that has come up between the two. There’s something so well developed about these two losers that I can’t get enough. I’m swooning.
I like the scenes where Sydney tries teaching Adrian how to drive stick (even though he knows how to and just wanted to spend more time with her: “Isn’t it obvious, Sage? No, of course it isn’t. I did it so I’d have a reason to be around you — one I knew you couldn’t refuse.”) and when they take self defense classes are also wonderful. I like that they spend time together and it’s done so subtly that I’m not sure they even realize it right away, how much they’ve grown to care for each other.
Mostly, there are two massive scenes I liked the most.
The first being when Sydney takes Adrian to visit his douche bag of a father. Honestly I hate that guy. I love her faith in Adrian and the way she stands up to his dad when all he does is shit on Adrian’s accomplishments and oh, I was just swooning. Sydney’s bravery grows in each chapter and I think it also gets loaned to Adrian, too. They make each other stronger just by being in the same room.
What I like most about Adrian and Sydney’s scenes is that they challenge each other to accept things, to grow and be better, and they protect each other. I mean, take Sydney’s standoff with Adrian’s dad. And Adrian’s when Sydney grew uncomfortable with the idea of giving blood to Sonya so she could test it.
I know, I know, Sydney still has her aversion to vampires and that conditioning isn’t going to go away. But you’re only lying to yourself if you don’t think she’d sacrifice herself to save him or vice versa.
My biggest love to their scenes was originally going to be their goodbyes when Sydney heads out to rescue Sonya and gives Adrian her beloved cross necklace.
But, no. It’s simply this line and the scene that it comes from: “For once, you’re going to hear something that doesn’t fit into your neat, compartmentalized world of order and logic and reason.”
You know why, if you’ve read it. Because it’s the scene that changes everything between the two and hard decisions will have to be made. There’s so many ways that this could go and I’m so nervous. I mean, these two just… ugh.
Sydrian. SYDRIAN! Sydrian!!!!
Overall, The Golden Lily was an awesome and badass read. There is plenty of growth to Sydney’s character that will leave all us readers to grow more fond of her. She’s gone from icy and lonely to warmer, braver and someone with something to truly lose. Just look at how she convinces Trey to take her to plead Sonya’s case and puts herself at risk.
I think it’s got plenty to grab your attention: some action, mystery, romance, humor, teen angst and family drama. It’s got that signature spin of a Richelle Mead novel and fans will positively eat it up. I know I did. As I’ve said before, if you’re not reading these books you’re truly missing out on something great.