First of all, let me start by saying that I am both a Vampire Academy and a Twilight fan. But where I like Twilight, I love Vampire Academy and can never get enough of the world that author, Richelle Mead, has created.
Having said that, that means that I am obviously completely biased in anything VA (Vampire Academy) or Twilight related, but nevertheless I’m going to go ahead and tell the world why VA is NOT the next Twilight.
I’ll start by making the obvious comparisons between the two series. You know, the ones that only people who know nothing about either series would make.
1) Both are No.1 best-selling series.
2) Both have vampires.
3) Both have a female lead.
4) Both are Young Adult series.
Surprised? Did you expect a long list of similarities between the series? A million points showing that they are exactly the same, simply because they both have vampires? Well, sorry to disappoint you but, newsflash, not all YA (Young Adult) novels with vampires in them are Twilight. In fact the majority of them aren't, and this stereotype is the exact thing that they all strive to get away from.
Twilight separates itself from other YA Vampire novels in one very specific way. Its author, Stephenie Meyer, has openly admitted on numerous occasions that she did not do any research whatsoever on vampires, before writing Twilight. Everything about the Twilight vamps, from their pale, red-eyed, fangless faces to their strengths and weaknesses as vampires; came entirely from Meyer’s own imagination and the little that she already knew about vampires.
Alternatively, Richelle Mead, author of the six book series Vampire Academy, did extensive research into Balkan and Romanian vampire mythology and folklore. Not only did she use this as the basis for her series, she went into specifics, centering her series on three main species/types:
Moroi - described as benevolent vampires, they are alive, mortal and born.
Dhamphir - the half-human/half-vampire offspring. Originally born from Moroi mixing with humans, and the more frowned upon mixing of some Moroi and Dhamphir.
Strigoi - the undead, evil vampires, who are made and not born.
The fact that she did research and that it is based in mythology and folklore shows us that even the basis for these two series, are completely different.
Edward Cullen, the Chicago-born, telepathic, self-loathing, sparkly vampire, is the leading man in Stephenie Meyer's Twilight. VA’s leading man, comes courtesy of the 24-year-old, Russian-born, 'god-like', Dhamphir guardian, Dimitri Belikov. Last time I checked, a sparkly vampire and Dhamphir guardian share no similarities.
One of the most fascinating aspects of both series, are the abilities that come with being a vampire. It's no secret that in Twilight, when one becomes a vampire they come to realize that they have a special ability. Jasper’s pathokinesis, Edward’s telepathy and Alice’s precognition are all examples of this.
Now, this is where it get’s tricky. VA vampires also have abilities, but the ones that are lucky enough to have these abilities, are the Moroi and seeing as how they’re not immortal like Twilight vamps, this gives us yet another difference. (Surprise, surprise.)
The extent of the abilities a Twilight vampire can have, is not really known. There’s not a set amount or type of ability that a vampire can have one of. In Vampire Academy, the Moroi can only specialize in one of five elements: Earth, Water, Air, Fire and Spirit (one of the rarest and feared elements in VA, due to its worrying side-effects).
If a Moroi drains a victim of their blood, resulting in the victim's death, the Moroi turns into the undead vampires they fear so much - the Strigoi. Having undergone this transformation, they lose any abilities they had and as there is no mention of Twilight vamps losing their abilities, this makes up another difference.
There is also no clear distinguishing of different species/types of vampires in Twilight, and VA's very specific classifications of the Moroi and Strigoi provide us with yet another difference. (We’ve got seven differences so far. Still think they’re the same?)
Where Bella, her friends and the Cullens attend a normal school, with a normal curriculum (the Cullens even joke about how many times they’ve graduated), Rose and her best friend, Moroi princess Vasilisa Dragomir, along with everyone else attend St Vladimir’s Academy, a school specifically designed to educate both Moroi and Dhamphir and train Dhamphir to turn them into Guardians, to protect the Moroi.
I should also point out that Dimitri, unlike Edward, is not a student. He is a guardian at St Vlad’s and has no desire to repeat school over and over again. (Nine differences now, are you keeping up?)
In VA, the Moroi and Dhamphir are led by the Moroi Queen, Twilight has no vampire Royalty. Only the Volturi, who are described as the equivalent to royalty. Being the equivalent of royalty, isn’t actually being royalty. You may be their equal, but you don’t have royal blood cursing through your veins, so you are not a royal. (Yes, I have so easily diminished everything that the Volturi is, in one sentence.)
And now for the big one.
I’ve compared the leading men, now for the leading ladies. Bella and Rose. Just putting their names together in a sentence feels weird, because their characters are miles apart. (Literally. Bella lives in Forks, Washington, Rose lives at the academy in Montana)
Bella's co-dependent, awkward-teen, I-hate-my-life-and-the-fact-that-I’m-actually-alive personality, is universes and I literally mean universes away from the strong, independent, kick-ass, I-do-what-I-want-when-I-want heroine of VA, Rose Hathaway. (Twelve differences so far, are you keeping count?)
Where Bella needs the Cullens and a family of werewolves to fight for her and protect her, Rose is busy single-handedly killing Strigoi and doing everything she can to protect Vasilisa. Not only does Rose not need protecting, she doesn't need people to fight her battles for her. If a bloodthirsty vampire (for arguments sake let's make this vampire, Twilight’s Victoria), was after Rose she’d easily drive a stake through their heart, ridding the world of one more evil vamp.
While Bella is busy preparing for life as vampire, mother and wife, Rose is busy stirring things up and preparing for a life as a guardian: ever ready to protect the Moroi, from the undead Strigoi.
AND THE BIGGEST DIFFERENCE YET?
Vampire Academy is NOT a love story. Twilight clearly is and so I bring you the 15th and final difference.
Richelle Mead’s Vampire Academy, is not a tale of girl-meets-vampire (that’s actually a thing now), it's a hard-hitting, gritty, compelling story, that deals with real-life issues we can all relate to.
Duty? Prejudice? Responsibilities? Death? These are a small handful of the many issues and topics included in VA. The character of Rose, unlike Bella, is not a normal teen living a normal teen life. She has a duty to protect, a future of Guardianship ahead of her and a hell of a lot of training in between. Why? Because, They Come First.
Still think Vampire Academy is the next Twilight?