I can blame one of my teacher friends for this! (Yes Pam, that's you!) She recommended this series as one worth reading in the genre. I had been expressing some hesitation about Dawn of the Dreadfuls and Pam said this series was good.
Mead had be from the beginning. There is a new sub-culture of vampires explored in this book--the living vampire--essentially good guys. There still exist the "bad vampires" that kill people and they are set as the antagonists in the series. Added to the mix are the guardians--human/vampire hybrids who serve to protect the good vampires from the bad.
What engages me more in this series is the portrayal of teen cliques and social pressures. The main character, Rose, is a guardian in training and has a mystical bond with her vampire, princess, bff, Vasilisa (Lissa). I don't want to say much more about the plot--no spoiler here. However, the ebb and flow of teen culture and the way teens have to figure out the adult world rang pretty true with my experiences.
This is a three stars book for me. I bought the "boxed set" of the first three, so I'll let you know if the next two are able to uphold the general quality of the characterizations and plot. I' recommend this for about 8-10 graders. It's probably more of a girls' book, but some boys might enjoy it.