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I've decided to participate in St. Vladimir's Summer School, a Vampire Academy read-a-long started by Steph @ The Fake Steph and Jen @ Jen Ryland/YA Romantics! Jen @ Owl-Read-It is also participating. This is actually week 4; I finally got around to reading Vampire Academy last week and decided to catch up and join in! Thanks to Grad Student at YA Fiction & Whiskey Sours for bringing this to my attention and Steph and Jen for letting me join in.
I read books 2 and 3 so quickly and in such rapid succession that I haven't written up reviews yet! Am skipping straight to Blood Promise (book #4) for the sake of the read-a-long but will post reviews for books 2 and 3 separately soon. Here's what I thought:
Release date: 25 August 2009
Publisher: Razorbill, 503 pages
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Despite the paranormal overload, this series didn't really feel that dark to me until Shadow Kiss (book #3), where I was pleasantly surprised by Mead's willingness to kill and injure loved characters. The attack on St. Vladimir's Academy is devastating. Dozens of Moroi and dhampir are dead and Dimitri has been turned into a Strigoi - a cold, vicious, bloodthirsty vampire who has lost touch with his soul. Rose drops out and heads off to Russia to track him down, intending to free him by putting a stake through his heart. She leaves behind a hurt and betrayed Lissa and an almost too understanding Adrian, who provides her with money on the promise that she will give him a chance when - if - she gets back. A more than generous trade, if you ask me.
Blood Promise feels much darker than the first three books, and I'm glad that Mead doesn't take the easy way out by ignoring minor problems. The pressure Rose feels is palpable. It would be enough that the love of her life was turned into a soulless monster and that she's in SIBERIA with no friends and too many enemies. It would be enough that she still struggles with the darkness that surrounds her and seeps into her from Lissa and that it takes tremendous mental effort to hold the ghosts at bay. It would be enough that she still struggles with her vampire bite addiction.
But it would not be realistic. And even with all that, the high school angst of St. Vlad's still manages to trickle through to her through her bond with Lissa. She is anxious about Lissa who's anxious about Rose and fighting with Christian who's jealous of Adrian who's interested in new bad girl Avery who's corrupting Lissa and making Rose, underneath her heavy burdens, feel replaced. There is teenage angst on an epic level really befitting YA, and I loved every second of it.
The ending was heartbreaking and chilling, even if it wasn't that shocking. For some reason, throughout Rose's haze-induced stay with newly-Strigoi Dimitri, I simply couldn't believe that Mead would turn him without a loophole. That there wouldn't be a way to change him back as hinted at the end, or that he would somehow turn out to still have his humanity despite turning. I think I watch too much Vampire Diaries (and yes, I know the tv show came out after). But even though the plot twist was fairly predictable, it still left me grinning, and I can't WAIT to see where Mead takes this!
As far as Teams go, I'm actually on the fence right now. Since I'm already on book 4, I should probably make a decision soon. Probably a little more Team Dimitri at the moment, but that's because there hasn't really been that much meaningful interaction between Rose and Adrian. I'm sure things change, though! Are you Team Dimitri or Team Adrian?
And because this is Summer School, I'm following Steph's lead and imparting some words of wisdom:
What I learned: When you're in a foreign country, never assume no one understands you because you will end up being lectured by an old Russian gypsy woman as you try to discreetly leave the house she has opened to you. It will be slightly awkward because you plan on driving a stake through her grandson's heart.
What I also learned: There is no greater love than between a boy and his cowboy books. It transcends living/undead barriers that romantic love will not.