I held off reading Vampire Academy for quite some time - mostly because the paranormal/vamp genre has exploded and I didn't want to read yet another story that is the same old story with some minor twist to make it the author's own.This book surprised me - it has quite a different story and the mythology is not at all similar to that of other paranormal reads. These characters have their own quirks, strengths, powers, weaknesses, etc. Another surprise was the lack of YA paranormal shallowness. I expected valley girl like speak, materialism, and giggling girls at high school dances. Again, not the case - the author remained YA without getting trite, shallow, or annoying.The characters are fun and show growth within the story while the plot is exciting and fast paced. The author weaves in enough sub-plot to keep the story moving even when action and intrigue aren't at the forefront.I'm excited to move on in the series and see where the author takes the characters and the story.