Sunday, 19 June 2011

Last Sacrifice by Richelle Mead

This is the last book in the Vampire Academy series. As such there WILL be spoilers pertaining to events in previous books. Fair warning.
This review will contain spoilers for the ending of this book and series.

Author: Mead has known a lot of success in a relatively short period. She’s currently got three series on the go. Vampire Academy, certainly her most famous work to date, is riding the vampire wave created by Twilight. It also has to be said that her hair is an amazing shade of red, very pretty!

Presentation: Quite a large paperback. The font is a relatively large size with wide spacing. There are 594 pages broken down into 36 chapters.

Story: Rose is in prison, awaiting trial for the murder of Queen Tatiana. Having condemned herself even further at the end of book 5 by speaking before thinking, in typical Rose fashion, her friends take it into their own hands to break her out. They hope that once she is freed, without her imminent execution hanging over all their heads, they will be able to discover who really murdered the Moroi queen. But all of her friends need to look innocent in the matter, so none of them can join her in her escape. One person can though: Dimitri. Dimitri, who still considers Lissa a goddess and his personal saviour, would do anything for the Dragomir princess, including running away with Rose even though she reminds him too much of his past as one of the Strigoi. Joining them is Sydney the Alchemist, who owes Abe, Rose’s father, a favour for some unknown, but obviously big, reason. Rose doesn’t want to just lie low and hide, though. She received a message from the late Tatiana, telling her that there is another Dragomir child, an illegitimate child, whose appearance in court would give Lissa the power she needs to help sway politics (Lissa can’t take her rightful place as one of the ruling families because of a law stating that there must be at least one other family member.) So Rose manages to screw everything up for herself, Dimitri and Sydney, forcing them to flee, while Lissa runs for queen back at court and everyone tries to figure out who really killed Tatiana. On top of this, Rose and Dimitri try to figure out what they mean to each other (conveniently forgetting all about Adrian), someone seems to be trying to kill Lissa, Victor and Robert reappear to turn another Strigoi back to Moroi, and Rose is slowly losing her battle against the madness incurred by the use of spirit.

(I repeat now – this review DOES contain spoilers for the ending of this book. If you do not wish to read spoilers, do not continue reading.)
Thoughts and impressions: I’m torn about this book. It is certainly about on par with most of the other books in the series (for quality) but it has one big, big problem: it is not an ending! Sure, Rose and Dimitri have their happy ending, but they’re the only ones. Everything else, absolutely everything else!, is not rounded off. In fact, Mead spends more time introducing the premises for the spinoff series (Bloodlines) than she does wrapping up events for this series. This really, really annoys me. When you read a series, the last book should wrap up enough that you don’t need to read another series to get an actual ending. A series should be able to stand on its own two feet. This one can’t even kneel.
There are so many questions that don’t get answered.
- Who is Abe really? Why does he carry so much power? Why do the other vamps seem to revere him when he’s not a royal?
- What happened to Victor’s corpse? They just abandoned it. Did anyone find it? Does the vamp community, that considers him the biggest enemy of the state, realise that he’s even dead or are they still wasting energy looking for him?
- What happened to Robert? They just abandoned him. Did he pick himself up and go off to hide again? Wouldn’t he have come after Rose to revenge the death of his brother?
- What happened to Eddie? He played such an important role in the series, but we have no idea what’s happened to him. We get a cryptic clue that not all is well for him. Again, it should not be so at the end of a series!
- What happened to Sydney? Last we knew about her, she was being held hostage in a hotel…
- Was Sonya Karp accepted back into Moroi society with ease or did she have to undergo endless tests like Dimitri?
- Why was the Keeper community introduced? What was with Angeline begging Rose to take her away, into the real world? Why were these people introduced anyway? We spend about 100 pages with them then the characters leave and we never hear from them again! I suspect they’re for Bloodlines, but in that case they should not have been introduced in Vampire Academy.
- When Rose was last with Dimitri’s family, Viktoria accused her of betraying her. There is no resolution given to this.
- Did Dimitri even contact his family to let them know of his miraculous return to the living? We know he knows that they know he got turned into a Strigoi. He and Rose talk about it in book 4 when he’s holding her hostage. There is absolutely no mention of his family in books 5 and 6. Wouldn’t he have wanted to contact them? It would have been one of the first things I would have wanted to do!
- I really wanted to know what motives were behind Dimitri’s actions in book 4. Why did he kidnap Rose and not just kill her? Why did he torment her with the kisses? The bites? The withholding of sex? Why did he want her to turn Strigoi to be with him? Was it love that became warped into unnatural obsession? Was it just because he views her as a good soldier who would be able to help him reach the higher echelons of Strigoi society? Throughout the whole of the book I kept hoping that Mead would touch on this, would explain it a bit. But no. It was ignored, forgotten. That really annoyed me because I think it would have been fascinating to get inside Strigoi Dimitri’s mind.
-  What about Adrian? I’ve said it before, he’s a character with a lot of room for personal growth, and all this is ignored for Rose and Dimitri. He deserves better than Rose. She keeps telling herself she loves Adrian then she spends all her time thinking about Dimitri, kissing Dimitri, having sex with Dimitri… and she doesn’t have the balls to break it off with Adrian first. And he had to learn by walking in on a personal moment between the two of them. Even Dimitri is a useless lump of lard in this bit (as painful as it is for me to say so.) He’s all like “I’m not going to be the guy who steals another guy’s girl” and then about a page later he’s busy getting nakkie with Rose! Why did he even bother with the whole “I have honour” speech? Obviously he doesn’t and he’s willing to let Rose boss him around. Pussy.
I’ll stop now because I’m starting to feel annoyed. In case you can’t tell.

Style: As with every other book in this series, the style is extremely clunky. The editors needed to edit better. It’s very colloquial, and that’s fine, but the non-English syntax should not have got past them. I’ve got to the point where I ask myself whether they even edited it properly. Sigh.

Final verdict: I wanted to like this one. I really, really did. But all of the characters annoyed me. Even Dimitri, who I usually adore - even when he’s evil. On top of that, it’s the last book in the series but it offers little to no closure. I cannot, in all good conscience, give this book more than 2 stars.

Extra notes: Contains sex (not described in detail, but present), murder, and plenty of foul language.


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