Book-to-screen adaption genres may come and go, but vampires will always rule my TV.
There’s something so compelling about vampire stories that suck me in, especially when teenage drama is added to the mix. That’s one of the many reasons I couldn’t turn away when I locked eyes with “Vampire Academy” on Peacock’s streaming service this fall.
Peacock started releasing “Vampire Academy” Sept. 15 and concluded its 10th episode of the first season on Oct. 27. Julie Plec (“The Vampire Diaries” executive producer) and Marguerite MacIntyre (Elizabeth Forbes on “The Vampire Diaries”) adapted the book series by author Richelle Mead for the silver screen.
It stars Sisi Stringer (Rose Hathaway), Daniela Nieves (Lissa Dragomir), Kieron Moore (Dimitri Belikov) and André Dae Kim (Christian Ozera) alongside a stellar ensemble cast.
“Vampire Academy” follows best friends Rose Hathaway and Lissa Dragomir as they navigate grief, powers, love, vampire royal politics, class systems, solving their mysterious bond and fighting to survive against evil, immortal vampires called strigoi.
Making the transition
The “Vampire Academy” world has had a whirlwind journey over the years.
It started out as a six-book series on Aug. 16, 2007, and was followed by a six-book spinoff series called “Bloodlines.” However, I staked my own claim in late 2013.
I heard a movie was brewing and I couldn’t wait to see the story unfold through pages at home and on the big screen in theaters. “Vampire Academy” transitioned into a movie featuring Zoey Deutch on Feb. 14, 2014. Unfortunately, poor reviews and a small profit at the box office cut the movie series short and added it to the unfinished book adaptation burial ground, accompanied with “Divergent,” “The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones,” “Beautiful Creatures” and more.
Sometimes sad things are a good thing though. Years later Peacock picked it up for its very own show, and I’m so happy it did. Everything about its 10 episodes felt like a love letter to the fans.
A fresh beating heart
The show breathed life back into a story I thought was slowly dying out. Peacock has given “Vampire Academy” a fresh beating heart again, and I was worried about what that would mean for book fans. Would the show completely diverge from the source material? Would there be a division between fans? Would book fans prosper with content only to have it canceled because no one else could understand the story? We’ve all been there.
To me, none of those things happened (although, as of Oct. 31, the word is still out on any renewals). The new series has excelled far beyond anything I could hope for after just 10 episodes.
I’ve laughed. I’ve cried. I’ve swooned. I’ve gasped. I’ve yelled at characters making decisions I really wish they wouldn’t.
This season was filled with everything I associate with the books.
Written with care
Snappy one-liners, action packed scenes at St. Vladimir Academy, friendship, yearning, grief and dynamic relationships are everything I think of when it comes to this series and these are all things we received with the show.
The moments that really stood out to me though were the ones I never expected to receive with the first season.
When Janine Hathaway, Rose’s mother, showed up at their training, my jaw fell to the floor. When Adrian Ivashkov showed up at a party Lissa attended, I screamed. When they had Mason go to a ski lift filled with strigoi, I was biting my nails (book fans, you get it). Whenever the alchemists were alluded to, I gasped. When we found out Andre Dragomir was still alive, I screamed.
The show is a different, original entity following its own course, but the foundations are there.
“Vampire Academy” kept things so fun for me. I wasn’t even paying close attention to whether or not they were following the original plot simply because it already felt like the story I fell in love with.
They showed us scenes from the books but in a different order. TV is a very different medium of storytelling than books are, and they wrote the season to perfectly represent this story.
Instead of getting Rose and Lissa’s road trip through America at the beginning, we’re getting it leading into season two (fingers crossed we get to see it completely!). Instead of pretty quickly jumping to Victor’s evil plans, we’re getting a villain origin story that still featured him kidnapping Lissa for her healing powers. Instead of Dimitri being Rose’s teacher, she asked him to train her and be a mentor instead. Don’t even get me started on all the times Rose called Dimitri “comrade” and all the times he called her “Roza.” My heart was bursting. Chef’s kiss all around.
It felt like a nod to the fans every time something from books two through six would happen. Everyone involved with this project did their research and poured their heart into it. I couldn’t ask for anything more.
They treated the characters and cast so well.
There would be moments I would just start randomly crying because I was so happy. I was able to witness characters and moments I never thought would play out in front of me. Peacock’s “Vampire Academy” has the perfect balance of plotlines and soft moments.
I think this is due to the agency they allow its characters. Plot doesn’t just happen to our ensemble cast. They drive the story forward with their own decisions, which is a very Rose Hathaway thing to do.
One of the first shows I’ve ever fallen in love with was “The Vampire Diaries” in 2009. I was in sixth grade when I watched the pilot episode premiere, and I was a first-year college student when it ended. So much of that story defined who I was growing up. I see remnants of it sprinkled throughout “Vampire Academy.”
It feels like a breath of fresh air to be reminded of my favorite TV moments. Fingers crossed for a second season, because I need more of this beautiful word that’s been created.