Vampire Academy is not like most YA novels - hell, like any novel I've read. Although there is plenty of teenage realism - mean girls, cliques, and inappropriate kissage - the characters are at the same time very, very different to us. What we consider normal is not what they do - and where we place our priorities also differs from them. It's odd, to not agree with a character but still understand them.
In fact, there was a lot of that in this book. Our main character, Rose, is exactly what I wasn't in high school. She flirts with everyone, goes out partying all the time, and makes out with guys she doesn't even care about - just for the thrill. This reckless edge does settle itself a bit in Vampire Academy, but it is still there even when she is behaving. You could say she is of the "punch first, ask questions later" variety. And even though I don't personally understand this, I understand her.
Another really unique feature of Vampire Academy was the relationship between BFFs Lissa and Rose. You get this right from the start as Mead opens with a scene of the two of them. Although I literally swooned over both Dimitri and Christian, the Lissa/Rose bond was by far the strongest in the book.
The vampire universe also had a really nice twist to it. Mead managed to incorporate all sorts of issues - politics, drug abuse, and social class - into the verse without it seeming too contrived. She also managed to work in discussion about mental illness - which was an unexpected surprise.
Bottom line? An amazing, addictive read. Mead creates gives a unique twist on vampires, and creates kick-ass characters to boot. Even if you are not a YA fan, go get yourself a copy!