Love author Richelle Mead? Now there’s an app for that! Fans of the author’s incredibly popular Young Adult series Vampire Academy and Bloodlines will be excited to hear that this morning the author’s publisher, Penguin, launched The World of Richelle Mead, available for the iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch. Penguin promises that the app will provide a free, easy way for fans to discuss Mead’s stories and characters. It will also allow to connect directly with the author via social networking tools. So does The World of Richelle Mead live up to the hype? Earlier this morning, I downloaded the new program onto my iPod to check what works — and what doesn’t.
This section contains a bookshelf that houses all six Vampire Academy novels and the two Bloodlines books that are part of the series thus far. When a specific title is selected, readers can read an excerpt from the story or buy an e-version of the book. This section is incredibly easy to navigate, so even tech challenged users will have no problem finding exactly what they want.
This is definitely the meatiest part of the app, where you can really sink your teeth in and feast on special content. This section hosts biographies of thirteen characters that make appearances in the two series. There is great content about both narrators, Rose and Sydney, as well as plenty of info about important secondary characters. These write-ups include detailed descriptions of each character’s personality and physical figure, as well as the role that they’ve played in the fictional world. My favorite part of this section is definitely the photos of each character — it is interesting to compare how I've always picture everyone in my head while reading versus how the author imagined her characters.
I have had the opportunity to meet Richelle and I am so happy to say that the “About Richelle” section of this app really shows off her personality. The author’s intelligence, passion for writing and good-spirited charm really shines through! And as a bonus those who haven’t met Richelle can easily connect with the author in this section. Additionally Mead’s bio gives readers a rundown of her career, and hosts photos and videos. You can also read the author’s up-to-the-minute tweets, for real time updates on her life and books.
Because this app was released earlier today, at the moment the community section is a bit bare. Right now, you can only find a single poll that asks readers which magical element they would want to control. And the news section consists of a short paragraph or two saying how excited the publisher is about the app itself.
As for connecting, Mead’s fans, viewers can check out a worldwide map that shows where people are as they log into the app. It’s a sort of “Where In The World Are All Richelle Mead’s Fans” (which can, amusingly be sung in the style of Where In The World Is Carmen San Diego?). While I was on, North America and Europe had lots of dots, which was not surprising, but I was most intrigued by a lone dot in the Middle East. I would love to know who this person is! However, in order to connect with others, I would have had to supply my name and email address, and let it link to my Twitter and Facebook accounts. While I didn’t really want to share, I can definitely see teens and technophiles connecting in this way.
From a technological standpoint, downloading The World of Richelle Mead was frustrating. I tried to install the app on my iPad and iPhone, however, I have older models of both, neither of which have iOS 5. Fortunately, I also own a new iPod (yes, Apple gets all of my business). Thankfully, I was able to download the app on my third try.
From a reader standpoint, I have absolutely no qualms about recommending this app to anyone who has read a Richelle Mead book, or a vampire book, or is a teen ... or adult for that matter. My only suggestion is that if you have not read the two series, do so before going through the entire app. There are some spoilers that you really should avoid until you have enjoyed the books.
I loved playing around on this app, but my personal favorite thing to do was visit the “Character Map” to find the personal connections between the characters. The handy interface allows you to choose any two characters from the books and get instant access to how they are connected. You can easily find out how they know each other and the state of their relationship. And take it from me, after so many great books in the series, it is excellent to have a handy guide to help keep everyone straight in your mind.
Additionally, readers — whether they are new or returning fans of Mead’s work — will absolutely love how easy it is to read an excerpt or complete e-versions of the author’s stories. Particularly because these contain special, behind the scenes notes that have been added to the text. While reading through the excerpts accessible through the app, I clicked on inconspicuous icons to get notes directly from the author. They mainly focus on insight into Mead’s writing process and these short, fun tidbits add a whole new layer to the stories.
And finally, because I’m always a sucker for multimedia, I have to steer everyone towards the video section in the “About Richelle” section. Currently there are four posted videos two staring the author, one focusing on fans and the last one featuring Richelle and another one of my favorite authors, Charlaine Harris. The camera captures these two amazing ladies as they discuss characters from their respective vamperific series.
The World of Richelle Mead is an absolute must-have for fans of the author. This free app is beautifully designed and has loads of great information about the author’s two series. Download this today!
Need more information about the app? Then make sure to check out this video, which shows you everything you need to know about it. And for more digital book news, make sure to check out our Everything E-Books Page.