Contemporary

Seashell Reviews: The Vampire Academy Edition

No time to track down full reviews of YA books? Seashell Reviews offers bite-size thoughts to let you know which books you shouldn’t pass up, and which ones you can hold off for another day. Original titled blog feature by Angel @ Mermaid Vision Books.

Warning: MAJOR SPOILERS for the Vampire Academy books ahead!

 

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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… (Goodreads)

Jumping straight into Frostbite was only natural after the amazing ride Vampire Academy gave me, and I didn’t regret a single moment. Richelle Mead paces her stories well, with one central location serving as the anchor for all the events in the book. The ski trip was an interesting and unexpected change of scenery, and I liked that she expanded the Moroi world beyond St. Vladimir’s Academy. The sense of danger is heightened now that Rose and her friends are outside of their school, and my only issue was that much of the action is crammed into the last half of the book. As it stands, it’s a pretty minor issue and did not detract from my enjoyment of the story. The Rose/Dimitri scenes did make me a little impatient, mostly because I am not emotionally invested in their romance, but again, I still found the story to be just as compelling as the first novel.

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Is Rose’s fate to kill the person she loves most? It’s springtime at St. Vladimir’s Academy, and Rose Hathaway is this close to graduation. Since Mason’s death, Rose hasn’t been feeling quite right. She has dark flashbacks in the middle of practice, can’t concentrate in class, and has terrifying dreams about Lissa. But Rose has an even “bigger” secret . . . .She’s in love with Dimitri. And this time, it’s way more than a crush. Then Strigoi target the academy in the deadliest attack in Moroi history, and Dimitri is taken. Rose must protect Lissa at all costs, but keeping her best friend safe could mean losing Dimitri forever… (Goodreads)

I will say this for Mead: she is not afraid to raise the stakes (pun not intended) in every single book. Shadow Kiss created challenges for itself that I was not sure it could take on, and it continued to surprise me in great ways. The Moroi society is placed under a magnifying glass, and Rose deals with the consequences of the lifestyle she was born into, consequences that she only begins to understand as she faces situations she hasn’t been trained to handle. I will say that I was not a fan of Rose’s choice at the end of the novel, but it did not surprise me. My discomfort with her choices did not take away from how much I liked the story, because it made sense for her character. Mead does not create conflict and then try to fit her characters into that conflict–they develop organically and those conflicts arise because of the kind of people they are. The reading experience becomes much more satisfying when characters and conflicts develop together, and Mead has made that work consistently.

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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? (Goodreads)

As in previous novels, the bulk of Blood Promise shifts to a central location, in this case Russia/Siberia, and the change brings a new gravity to the story. Rose’s solitary journey to find Dimitri is peppered with new discoveries about the Moroi world, including the appearance of Sydney, a prickly Alchemist. The nature of Rose’s trip also means a shift to Rose/Dimitri, and I found it a little harder to be completely invested because of that new focus. I greatly enjoyed the scenes where, through her bond with Lissa, Rose got glimpses of what was going on at St. Vladimir’s. Despite my reluctance for Rose/Dimitri, I do think that seeing Lissa and Rose away from each other was good for both of them in the end, because it gives them perspective. Their friendship is still one of the strongest I’ve seen in YA, and Mead keeps it realistic even when it’s not easy to read about. I would add a trigger warning for emotional abuse in the latter half of this novel–the escalation of certain events can leave readers feeling very overwhelmed.

137902About Richelle

Scorpio Richelle Mead is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of urban fantasy books for both adults and teens. Originally from Michigan, Richelle now lives in Seattle, Washington where she works on her three series full-time: Georgina Kincaid, Dark Swan, and Vampire Academy.

A life-long reader, Richelle has always loved mythology and folklore. When she can actually tear herself away from books (either reading or writing them), she enjoys bad reality TV, traveling, trying interesting cocktails, and shopping for dresses. She’s a self-professed coffee addict and has a passion for all things wacky and humorous.

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