Joint review with Ruby's Reads: http://onabookbender.com/2012/02/10/joint-review-with-rubysreads-half-blood/Amanda: Is it just me or are there a lot of similarities between Half-Blood and Vampire Academy? At first, I was all, “BUFFY!” with how the daimons died, but by the third, fourth, and fifth chapters I was getting serious Vampire Academy vibes. I’m also not the biggest fan of Alex, but that’s mainly because I just want to shake her and tell her to get agrip and focus on what’s important. And I’m still waiting for Aiden to impress me, besides his arms, of course. I think his arms are very impressive. Ruby: This was exactly my feeling. In fact, I think our review should be titled: Vampire Academy 2: This Time, with Daimons. Because:1. Both heroines get dragged back to their special school for mystical creatures after leaving under “mysterious circumstances.”2. Both heroines are half of something–and therefore lesser. Yet, their half-blood status makes them wonderful fighters.3. Both heroines are kick ass chicks. Their missing time at the academy doesn’t detract from their kickassiness.4. Both have older, hot, famously kickass mentor love interests who are off-limits. 5. Potential, attainable love interest who will be really nice, but not be the hot, unattainable guy and therefore will not win the heroine. Also, I bet he’ll die.–Totally wrong on this score.6. The world-building is startlingly similar. A lot of the “rules” remind me of the rules from the Vampire Academy books, but with minor twists.I’m starting to get frustrated with books that introduce uber-heroes merely as a way to foreshadow that the MC is going to be said uber-hero. Why does every book do this? Am I the only one who is tired of stories where the MC is “The One” with some kind of mystical destiny? This isn’t a criticism of Half-Blood in particularly, more a comment on the genre as a whole. And I’m not just talking YA–it happens in PNR and UF all the time, too. I think it’s part of why I’ve been wanting to take a break from books with paranormal elements.Amanda: I agree that there are a lot of over done paranormal elements in this story. Well, especially since there was so many Vampire Academy parallels. I, too, have noticed so many paranormal books using the “The One” story line. I think that while it’s over done, it’s only bad if it’s noticeably that way. If that makes sense? Books that pull you in and make you forget all your likes and dislikes and just make you READ, those are the ones that don’t matter if they have used something that EVERY OTHER BOOK has used, because it seems unique and special and AWESOME.Ruby: I’m also really tired of the “second best love triangle” phenomenon.Anyone who reads this book would be able to tell and Alex and Aiden are “The Couple.” There’s no tension in having a third party–Seth–because we know Alex won’t end up with him in the end. And since there’s no tension, I see little reason for the love triangle to exist. It would be far more compelling to have the story be about Alex and Aiden trying to have a relationship and trying to deal with the fact that Alex was mystically tied to Seth in a complex way. But noooooo. Can’t have that! Amanda: The love triangle really annoys me in this book. Of course, love triangles annoy me in most books, but I don’t really see a reason for it here, especially after Alex and Aiden nearly consummated their relationship. I just kind of want to yell at Seth to get out of the way, so things can happen, romance wise.Ruby: Having finished the book, I’m yet more frustrated by the way Alex and Aiden’s romance is set to play out. It wings me all the way back into Vampire Academy territory.Amanda: I just finished Half-Blood. Yay! Oddly enough, I think my favorite character in this book was Seth.Ruby: I was thinking about how you said that Seth was your favorite character in this book and it made me realize that I didn’t connect with ANY of the characters. I didn’t particularly like Alex, Aiden or Caleb–none of the characters ran very deep. Complex they were not. Most of them felt like cliches. Caleb was the loyal best guy friend, Aiden was the hot, kick-ass love interest with emotional baggage, Lena was the mean girl who is somewhat redeemed by tragedy.Also, I don’t think this book ever recovered from the similarities to Vampire Academy. It did develop a little in its own direction, but not enough to distinguish it. The biggest flaw of this book was that it wasn’t bad, it was so mediocre as to make me care little about it. There was nothing in it to surprise or delight me. It was just blah. Amanda: Yes. I definitely agree that a lot of characters felt like cliches, and this is probably why I connected with Seth the most. We didn’t really learn a lot about him, but I found him intriguing, more so than any other character. What we do know of him made me think that a) there’s a lot more to his story, b) there’s a lot more to him than just being the Apollyon, and c) I want to know more about him. I could take or leave the rest of the characters.The similarities to Vampire Academy were so strong that something amazing would have had to have happened (say THAT three times fast) in order for it to move beyond the label of a Vampire Academy-like book. There also seemed to be a lot of foreshadowing, but so much so that it was obvious what was coming next. In some ways, that made it less enjoyable because it was easy to figure out what happened next.Ruby: Oh, right! The first time the story of the two Apollyons was related it was obvious what the deal was going to be. But I think I was too busy drawing similarities between the Vampire Academy books to appreciate Seth. I kept picturing him as Adrian–and the heroine’s other, appealing–but obviously not first choice–option in the love triangle.Amanda: Oh. I haven’t met Adrian in the VA series yet so I was perhaps able to see Seth as his own character. I also think that if this particular love triangle continues into the next book (and beyond), I would get really annoyed with it. With Half-Blood, Aiden was the obvious choice, and though Seth was in the picture, he wasn’t really an actual option. But I also suspect that that will change with the next book. And that makes me hesitant to read it.