Of Books and Movies: Vampire Academy

I love it when the power shorts out five times in one day.  Fun fun.

Anyway, it’s been a while since I’ve done one of these.  I saw the movie adaptation of Vampire Academy yesterday.  And…I actually enjoyed it.

I’ve read the first two Vampire Academy books by Richelle Mead (#3 and #4 are…somewhere.)  If you’re not familiar with it, the series follows Rose Hathaway, a teenaged Dhampir studying at the secluded academy that teaches Dhampir children to kick butt, and Moroi children to harness their magic and be good vampire citizens.  Rose’s best friend is Lyssa Dragomir, the last in a distinguished royal line of vampires.  They have to deal with normal petty high school stuff (gossip, flirting, friendzones, cattiness, blah blah blah) while also living with the constant threat of an unknown number of baddie vampires (the Strigoi) who want to slaughter every single student and teacher.

And I will freely admit, Dimitri Belikov is one of my book boyfriends (yes, I have many.  Shush.)  An uber-hot, brooding Russian guy who kicks ass, takes names, and is known as a god among guardians?  Yes please.

I don’t know if I’ve mentioned this before, but I am at peace with the fact that the movie will never be exactly the same as the book.  There are various things that just don’t translate to film well (constant inner monologue) or that can cause problems in finding actors (characters around the age of 3-4 can be tricky to cast.)  There’s also the fact that the screenwriter, director, et al. are not in my head, and therefore cannot pluck my specific vision of the book from my thoughts.  So I’m okay with some changes.  (Though honestly, it’s been about five years since I’ve read Vampire Academy, so I don’t remember the plot second-by-second.)

What matters to me is staying true to the essence of the characters.

Rose (Zoey Deutch) was maybe a little more bubbly than I’d imagined her, but her loyalty to Lyssa was still perfectly clear.  Especially when she takes out the poor random salesguy who made the mistake of getting too close to Lyssa in the shopping mall.

I was a little nervous about Dimitri.  They didn’t really show him in the trailers, and I was starting to think that they’d made him a student (or at least made him closer in age to Rose than he was in the book) and thus nullified all of the sexual tension between him and Rose.  But they didn’t.  He’s still eight years older.  And they hired a Russian to play him (Danila Kozlovsky) so his accent was perfect (I could rant for DAYS about how much I hate terrible accents.  Don’t get me started on Daniel Craig.)

Lyssa was…well, pretty good.  I was thrown a little because her family is Romanian (all of the Moroi families originate from Romania and that area) and so I thought Lyssa had a Romanian accent, but Lucy Fry is Australian.  But otherwise, she was fine.

I did like all the pop culture references tossed in.  Those weren’t in the books, which works.  Teenagers are obsessed with Facebook and iPhones, so why wouldn’t vampire teenagers be obsessed with the same?

There was only one tiny actual complaint I had.  A little background, first: the Moroi vampires all master an element.  There are four, Earth, Water, Fire and Air.  During puberty, a teenaged Moroi will “declare” for an element, and that becomes the element that he or she studies and gains mastery over.  Before they declare, the children have minimal influence over each element, and it’s through practice that the Moroi learn which element is “theirs.”  After they declare, they move on to advanced classes that specialize in each element.

Lyssa is one of the very, very few Moroi not to declare.  Part of Lyssa’s troubles are that she’s stuck in the pre-declare class with the younger kids, while all of her classmates have declared.  (The reason behind this is behind the whole plot, so I’m not going to spoil it for you.)  She’s like the younger kids, and has minimal influence over each of the elements.  In the movie, her abilities were portrayed more as she had a lot of influence, but that she had a hard time controlling it (but she had enough control to show off to her “friends.”)  And she didn’t seem nearly as bothered by her lack of magic, especially since she stands a roughly 10% chance of inheriting the Moroi throne.

Anyway, overall, I enjoyed the movie.  And I’ll probably see the sequel, if they do one.  And it’s making me want to dig out the third book and read it, even though I accidentally spoilered myself by reading the back of the fourth book before I read the back of the third book 😦

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