Melissa de la Cruz
Books 1, 2, 3 and 4 of the Blue Bloods series
The Van Alen Legacy
(all published in Australia in 2010 by Atom)
In Melissa de la Cruz’s world, vampires are the “Blue Bloods” of high society. Reincarnated by a blood creation process, only 400 vampires exist, not always at the same time, and they are part of a complex Heaven and fallen angels scenario from millennia past. Two are even archangels, who descended by choice to watch over those who fell. Cruz has at the heart of her story the young Blue Bloods of this generation, who are maturing, recovering their memories of previous lives, and re-discovering their powers. Mimi and Jack Force, rich, gorgeous and powerful, are two of the next generation Blue Bloods, but there are others, and some of them, like Schuyler Van Alen, are different to those who came before.
Blue Bloods, the first book of the series, introduces us to a world of the super rich elite, peopled by vampires who call themselves Blue Bloods. While these vampires do require human (Red Blood) blood, they generally don’t terrorise or kill them, living hidden in plain sight as the rich and famous of their world. Schuyler Van Alen is part of this world, but feels isolated from it – her family’s fortunes have waned over the decades, which means while Schuyler is still schooled at the elite Duchesne school, she doesn’t command the respect of her wealthier peers and doesn’t try to fit in. When a student is killed however, Schuyler finds out she is more a part of the elite crowd than she could ever have imagined. With an unknown threat to all the young vampires, Schuyler finds herself at the heart of the hunt for the murderer, and on the front line of danger.
This first book sets up a somewhat different vampire scenario. The vaguely defined incarnation process is fairly mystical and while it makes sense in terms of how Cruz discusses it, the actual mechanics are pretty hazy, and Cruz often strays from her premise in terms of characterisation, which can be frustrating. And while this premise is distinct from the usual angsty teen vamp fare, the set up for the series itself is not unique – the Vampire Beach series by Alex Duval is a very similar set up, with vampires that exist as the top echelon of society, who quite happily live in the sun and who co-exist relatively peacefully with humans.
Possible SPOILERS for books 2-4 follow!
In Masquerade, Schuyler is desperately trying to find her grandfather, missing for decades, after her grandmother was killed by the Silver Blood. The Committee still have their heads in the sand, refusing to believe the Silver Blood has returned, so Schuyler, accompanied only by her human friend and Conduit, Oliver, is in Venice on her hunt. The mystery of her mother’s condition, alongside the uncertainty of her feelings for Oliver and Jack, and her concern over the ongoing Silver Blood threat, teases out threads of storyline that both continue from the first book and lead further into the next.
The third book, Revelations, finds Schuyler even more deeply involved in her relationships with both Jack and Oliver. Her new friendship with Bliss has seen her pitted even further against Mimi, who is at once jealous and dismissive of Schuyler. With her grandfather, Lawrence, out of the country on Committee business, and Schuyler trapped under the control of Mimi and Jack’s father, Charles Force, events charge along, and danger is ever present, in many different forms.
None of the books so far are completely self-contained – events continue from one book to the next, and while each has a big climactic event at the end, resolution is seldom the outcome. In an unusual move for this type of series, book four, The Van Alen Legacy, opens twelve months after the events of Revelations. Schuyler and Oliver are in France, on the run from what’s left of the Committee, who think Schuyler is responsible for the death of her grandfather. We also get a far more intimate point of view from both Bliss and Mimi, who have had their own life changes in the twelve months since the narrative left off. This book really finishes off the story arc, although there’s certainly room for more books to follow. I felt there were some continuity issues in this book, but nothing that couldn’t be glossed over without much thought. The resolution of the storyline was rather satisfying, and felt worth the time investment of the four books.
As I mentioned earlier, Cruz seems to stray somewhat from the premise she has established of how her vampires exist at times. This can get kind of creepy, particularly the incestuous nature of some of the relationships, which impacted on my enjoyment of the story – the “ew” factor tends to do that! It is explained, but it’s still icky, and having finished the first four books, I still can’t really find a reason that it has to be that way. Perhaps it’s supposed to increase the relationship tensions, but it doesn’t need to be included for the tension to be heightened. It may not impact the reading of others as it did me, but it was one aspect that consistently dropped me out of the story with the need for a brain-clean!
Having said that, I was surprised how quickly I powered through these four books – while I might complain about the lack of autonomy of each book, it did mean I picked up the next book immediately on finishing the one before, because I found myself invested in the characters. I think there are some faults with the writing and way the premise is presented, but it is still fairly compelling reading! The Blue Bloods series is presumably aimed at young adults (very little, if any, swearing, sex scenes are pretty much fade to black and few and far between, violence is not too graphic) although the incest aspect may turn some libraries off. A solid read though, and one of the more attention catching additions to the genre I’ve read.