Last Sacrifice (Review)


Title: Last Sacrifice

Author: Richelle Mead

Publication Year: 2010

Pages: 608

Genre: Fiction, Young Adult, Fantasy

Source: E-book version borrowed from the public library

From the cover:

Murder. Love. Jealousy. And the ultimate sacrifice.

The Queen is dead and the Moroi world will never be the same. Now, with Rose awaiting wrongful execution and Lissa in a deadly struggle for the royal throne, the girls find themselves forced to rely upon enemies and to question those they thought they could trust. . . .

But what if true freedom means sacrificing the most important thing of all?

Each other.

(This is the sixth and final book in the series, after Vampire AcademyFrostbiteShadow KissBlood Promise, and Spirit Bound.)

There were things about this book that I liked, and things that I really kinda didn’t.

I liked the focus on the mystery of who had killed the Queen, moving away from the somewhat melodramatic issues that had started to take over the story before this point. It was kind of nice to have a plot point with a sense of possibilities and not being sure about what would happen, because until now, it had started to get a bit predictable. I also, for the most part, liked the focus on some new and different characters: for example, I really liked the Keepers, seeing a different side to how vampires and dhampirs might live if they chose not to accept the royalty system.

In some ways, I didn’t like the shift towards more of Sydney. I still found her a bit annoying in this book, though I realize that she was being fleshed out a bit more for the shift to the next “series” within the universe. I have to admit that I didn’t actually start to like her much until I read Bloodlines.

Overall, though, I think that Last Sacrifice was a pretty strong ending for the series. I’m glad that the main characters are continuing on – although in a diminished capacity – in the Bloodlines parallel series, because otherwise I’d have been sad that their story was over so quickly. So definitely, if you enjoyed the Vampire Academy series, then you need to go on and start the one that centers around Sydney and Adrian as well. You’ll love them equally.

Rating:

Spirit Bound (Review)


Title: Spirit Bound

Author: Richelle Mead

Publication Year: 2010

Pages: 496

Genre: Fiction, Young Adult, Fantasy

Source: E-book version borrowed from the public library

From the cover:

After a long and heartbreaking journey to Dimitri’s birthplace in Siberia, Rose Hathaway has finally returned to St. Vladimir’s – and to her best friend, Lissa. It is at long last graduation, and the girls can’t wait for their real lives beyond the Academy’s iron gates to begin. But Rose’s heart still aches for Dimitri, and she knows he’s out there, somewhere.

She failed to kill him when she had the chance. And now her worst fears are about to come true. Dimitri has tasted her blood, and now he is hunting her. And this time he won’t rest until Rose joins him . . .forever.

(This is the fifth book in the series, after Vampire AcademyFrostbiteShadow Kiss, and Blood Promise.)

In following the subplot of Dimitri having turned intro Strigoi, keeping Rose hostage while trying to convince her to “awaken” with him, and her eventual escape, Spirit Bound does a really great job of keeping up the adrenaline level. Even after giving a short time lapse before the beginning of the novel, the intensity of the relationship between Dimitri and Rose manages to stay high. Higher, even, given the personal notes he’s now been sending her at school, letting her know that she’ll be coming for him.

Most of the book maintains this high action level, keeping the reader kind of on their toes, since you never quite know what’s going to happen next. Several smaller plotlines are followed through from earlier books – like busting out Dashkov to find his spirit-wielding brother in a crazy attempt to re-create a fairy tale story – and it felt like all the foreshadowing from the rest of the series finally came together to create a more cohesive whole. The grim reality of Dimitri’s new self has finally come to bear, rather than the wishful thinking Rose had in the previous book, thinking that he could still be himself in there somewhere, and it feels almost like a million things are happening all at once.

By the end of Spirit Bound, I actually kind of wanted to smack some sense into some of the characters, particularly Dimitri. Some of the way things came together seemed too pat, too perfect, but at the same time, enough drama kept flying at the main characters to keep things moving. Just as one thing finally goes right, another two fall to the wayside. And by the end of it all, everything was perfectly set up for the final book. As I did with most of this series, I just went straight from finishing Spirit Bound into reading Last Sacrifice: I had to know how it ended. And by the time you finish reading this book, you’ll feel the same way.

Rating:

Blood Promise (Review)


Title: Blood Promise

Author: Richelle Mead

Publication Year: 2009

Pages: 512

Genre: Fiction, Young Adult, Fantasy

Source: E-book version borrowed from the public library

From the cover:

The recent Strigoi attack at St. Vladimir’s Academy was the deadliest ever in the school’s history, claiming the lives of Moroi students, teachers, and guardians alike. Even worse, the Strigoi took some of their victims with them . . . including Dimitri.

He’d rather die than be one of them, and now Rose must abandon her best friend, Lissa — the one she has sworn to protect no matter what — and keep the promise Dimitri begged her to make long ago. But with everything at stake, how can she possibly destroy the person she loves most?

(This is the fourth book in the series, after Vampire AcademyFrostbite, and Shadow Kiss.)

After the events of the first half of the series, Blood Promise really takes on a different feel to it. For one, most of the book takes place off campus, away from school. Rose goes looking for Dimitri all through Siberia, trying to find him to kill him instead of letting him live on as a Strigoi. While that’s happening, things at St. Vlad’s go on without her, and her only contact with anyone is being able to slip into Lissa’s mind and Adrian occasionally slipping into her dreams.

There’s a good chunk of the book where Rose has found Dimitri’s family and is staying with them, unsure about whether she can truly go after Dimitri and kill him. She knows that’s what he would want, but isn’t sure whether she should go on to do this. At first, I really liked this section: it was nice to get to know more about his backstory and the people he loves, as well as getting to see what it’s “really” like in a dhampire community. But it kind of got old for me a little before she finally headed out. It was almost like Mead had finally disproven all of the bad things she’d set up as a “blood whore” rumours throughout the series, only to turn around and show that really, that’s how it is, after all. I don’t know. It was hard to reconcile the two sides of things, and I was glad that she didn’t end up staying there.

The next lengthy section, where Dimitri has her captive, was difficult to read. On the one hand, it seemed completely realistic that Rose would hesitate when seeing Dimitri as a Strigoi for the first time, and he could take her captive. But, if he was really changed so much, as is suggested by the end, why does he keep her alive that long? It doesn’t completely make sense. It was still an interesting twist, though, so I suppose that mission was accomplished.

Ultimately, I really liked Blood Promise. It went beyond the kind of everything-weirdly-revolves-around-an-American-boarding-school thing and into a more realistic concept of their lives continuing to exist outside of backwoods Montana, which was nice. Plus it introduced some new and important characters, which I really rather enjoyed. As a turning point to the series, it works, and by the time I was finished, I was really looking forward to continuing.

Rating:

Shadow Kiss (Review)


Title: Shadow Kiss

Author: Richelle Mead

Publication Year: 2008

Pages: 448

Genre: Fiction, Young Adult, Fantasy

Source: E-book version borrowed from the public library

From the cover:

Rose knows her love for Dimitri Belikov is forbidden. Her best friend, Lissa — the last Dragomir princess — must always come first. But a strange darkness begins to grow in Rose’s mind. The immortal undead are closing in, and they want vengeance for the lives Rose has stolen. In a heart-stopping battle, Rose will have to choose between life, love, and the two people who matter most… but will her choice mean that only one can survive?

(This is the third book in the series, after Vampire Academy and Frostbite.)

After reading the first two books in the series, I was really excited to read Shadow Kiss. I figured that it must be the point where Mead would hit her stride, and things would be high-octane and intense right through the novel. This didn’t quite turn out to be the case, though. Instead, it starts off slowly, as things go as much back to “normal” as they possibly could at the Academy, and as change begins to foment in their world. Plus, there’s the small matter of the trial and sentencing they’ve been waiting for since the end of Vampire Academy, which was more … slow-paced … than I would have expected.

Having said that, the speed and intensity really picked up about a third of the way into the book. Things started to happen to Rose and the others that indicated that something big was coming. And things finally started to heat up properly between Rose and Dimitri, which I’d been hoping for since the beginning of the series already. By the end, it was a full-out action story, and I just couldn’t read fast enough. I didn’t want to put the book down from about halfway through until the end; in fact, I don’t think I did put it down, except when absolutely necessary. I read almost the whole thing from cover to cover.

Even though I had an inkling of one of the big things that happens in the end, it was still kind of a shock to read it. Shadow Kiss definitely ends on a cliffhanger that I was glad to be reading long enough after its publication that I didn’t have to wait for the next installment. By now, if I hadn’t already thought this was a great series, just enough twisting and turning has happened that I’d definitely recommend reading it to just about anyone.

Rating:

Frostbite (Review)


Title: Frostbite

Author: Richelle Mead

Publication Year: 2008

Pages: 336

Genre: Fiction, Young Adult, Fantasy

Source: E-book version borrowed from the public library

From the cover:

Rose loves Dimitri, Dimitri might love Tasha, and Mason would die to be with Rose…

It’s winter break at St. Vladimir’s, but Rose is feeling anything but festive. A massive Strigoi attack has put the school on high alert, and now the Academy’s crawling with Guardians — including Rose’s hard-hitting mother, Janine Hathaway. And if hand-to-hand combat with her mom wasn’t bad enough, Rose’s tutor Dimitri has his eye on someone else, her friend Mason’s got a huge crush on her, and Rose keeps getting stuck in Lissa’s head while she’s making out with her boyfriend, Christian! The Strigoi are closing in, and the Academy’s not taking any risks…. This year, St. Vlad’s annual holiday ski trip is mandatory.

But the glittering winter landscape and the posh Idaho resort only create the illusion of safety. When three friends run away in an offensive move against the deadly Strigoi, Rose must join forces with Christian to rescue them. But heroism rarely comes without a price…

(This is the second book in the series, after Vampire Academy.)

I really liked this book as the second in the series. Not only did it take the Moroi vs Strigoi conflict further, it brought up a lot of deeper issues. For one, Rose’s mother finally makes a real appearance, and while I didn’t like her at first, I liked the way her subplot went. I feel like the relationship between her and Rose is very real, visceral even; it fits them both and makes the story feel so much more believable. Plus, the beginnings of the discussion of allowing Moroi to use magic in a more offensive way feels like it’s setting up the rest of the series to be much more interesting.

The many romantic subplots I could maybe have gone without. I mean, I get that some of them were continuations from Vampire Academy, but I think that, at times,  Mead took it just a little bit too far. I’m happy that things seem to be going in the right direction between Rose and Dmitri, though. That’s one romantic relationship I can at least root for.

All in all, Frostbite actually felt like a better book than Vampire Academy. I get that VA was really more of a set-things-up novel, but there’s definitely more fleshing-out happening in this book. More happens, and less time is spent simply laying out the basics of the world-building. It’s definitely a good second effort on Mead’s part.

Rating:

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