by Richelle Mead
Hardcover, 503 pages
Published August 25th 2009 by Razorbill
Premise contains SPOILERS!!!
If you have not read the VA series, skip to my Review Summary!!
Rose Hathaway's life will never be the same.
The recent attack on St. Vladimir's Academy devastated the entire Moroi world. Many are dead. And, for the few victims carried off by Strigoi, their fates are even worse. A rare tattoo now adorns Rose's neck, a mark that says she's killed far too many Strigoi to count. But only one victim matters . . . Dimitri Belikov. Rose must now choose one of two very different paths: honoring her life's vow to protect Lissa—her best friend and the last surviving Dragomir princess—or, dropping out of the Academy to strike out on her own and hunt down the man she loves. She'll have to go to the ends of the earth to find Dimitri and keep the promise he begged her to make. But the question is, when the time comes, will he want to be saved?
Now, with everything at stake—and worlds away from St. Vladimir's and her unguarded, vulnerable, and newly rebellious best friend—can Rose find the strength to destroy Dimitri? Or, will she sacrifice herself for a chance at eternal love?
This book felt like two treadmills to me sandwiching the most amazing tension-filled romantic scene in fiction. You gotta get through the first half to get to it… and then you have to get through the last half to get away from it, but that Oreo-filled middle is worth it.
My Rating: 3.695. My Breakdown – The filling (& romance) in this book sandwich is a 5.5. Wow. The treadmill leading up to the filling is an exciting 4. The exhausting horror after the filling was a frustrating 2.5 for me with a redeeming crescendo. The dreams and Lissa updates were a 3 for me.
Now let's have a little fun, shall we?
I thoroughly enjoyed a trip to Russia in Blood Promise. I love the cultural setting and the visuals of the night clubs and alleyways. Plus... we got to meet our first Alchemist with the blood tattoo and feel the full force of their distaste for all things non-human. I loved how the Alchemists viewed damphirs in the same class as strigoi. It was a strong shift in perspective that prepared me for seeing Dimitri and Rose's hesitation.
Rose quickly grows into super-awesome-kick-butt-strigoi-killer. Seen through the alchemists' attitude of irritation, we skip the feeling of awe and dive right into "been there, done that". Strigoi are still a challenge, but I have real hope that Rose will take Dimitri out, like she needs to.
Meeting Dimitri's family is wonderful. It felt like a sidetrack, but lots of important things happened out there, in the middle of nowhere. Each member of the family become real and create this negative space of how awesome Dimitri was. Rose gets a chance to mourn his death, like she hasn't, yet. And it feels good. She meets other spirit users and her understanding expands as well as her grasp of the Moroi world politics. Then she even gets a glimpse of the dark side of "blood whores" and how wonderful people end up in that situation... and how close she comes to the danger of it.
I really enjoyed Abe, right from his entrance. He is soooo creepy in a mobster-type way. I love his mysterious power. He was one of my favorite surprises of the book. In the last battle (to skip ahead) he faded into a wallpaper, which totally irritated me. The Abe I knew would not sit around and ask vague questions while being content with no answers. Just sayin'.
Then we run into Dimitri... or he finds Rose, more precisely, as she draws him in. What a great scene!!! He is still Dimitri, and yet not, too. I love Rose's warring emotions. I love the ghost of emotions hiding deep in Dimitri. Maybe I was looking too hard, but in some ways... he's even better than ever.
I mean... in the first books, Dimitri is unapproachable, right? His sense of duty keeps him aloof and Rose's heart is almost cultivated into this strong, waiting, loving force. But then he gives into his feelings. Like a dam breaking, it's amazing. So, take that barrier of impossibility and times it by a bazillion... and we have Dimitri-the-strigoi. He's impossible, unreachable and yet soooo much more bad-guy than he ever could have been before. Really, really BAD. Bad.
I really, really like that. Lol.
Those scenes where the two of them were dancing around killing each other, drawn to each other and yet repelled simultaneously... just, WOW!! They are some of my favorite anywhere ever. Amazing.
But then... you know what happens. He bites her. She becomes a druggy. I think I got depressed. So much for two awesome people and an amazing kill-love dance. Now we have patient, sick, twisted bad guy and mega-sick, twisted, weak wet noodle. Yuck. I was sooooooo ready for Rose to overcome that sludgy feeling. That entire section slowed down to drowning in caramel syrup for me. Thick, slow, too sweet, a slow death.
The final escape was satisfying, but not exhilarating. Rose finds herself and even eeks out a response from Dimitri... she's even wonderfully kick-butt again, but she's so weak, it's exhausting - mentally & physically. Plus, I think I'm still in denial about Dimitri. He can't possibly have lost all of himself.
The final spirit-battle was creative, wasn't it? I liked the power struggle and all the extra insight into how the spirit magic works - both good and bad. There's lots of possibilities hiding there, you know? Plus Rose and Lissa got some stuff straightened out.
Speaking of Lissa... What did you think of the dreams and slippin' into Lissa's head? I liked getting a glimpse of the action back at the academy, but that was tedious. It really added to the treadmill feel. I did not catch on to why Lissa was acting so out of character and it really drove me nuts. This is, like, the book where the two friends are attacked mentally and really should see a psychiatrist afterwards.
I did not understand enough about Lissa's situation to care how things were going. Rose couldn't do anything about it which made me feel helpless, too. I can see why Rose cared, but I could have got a summary from her afterwards. As for the way Rose treated Adrian? I can't believe he gives her the time of day - or any attention - after that. She was really rude. Even if he's amazing, I want to see more grounds for continued friendship.
About the Amazing Author:
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.
More on her BIO page.
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