This is the fifth book in the Vampire Academy series. As such there WILL be spoilers pertaining to events in previous books. Fair warning.
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 489 pages broken down into 27 chapters. I'm not sure what's going on with the front cover here. It looks like Rose and Dimitri about to kiss, but that has nothing to do with this book and would have been more relevant to books 4 or 6, but certainly not book 5.
Story: True to her promise to her mother, Rose has stayed at school since returning to America. She is about to graduate now, but she knows that as soon as she steps out of the protection offered by the school, Dimitri will find her. And she knows that his offer to turn her into a Strigoi has long since expired. But more than that, she’s also convinced that if she finds this other spirit user, she will be able to save Dimitri from the undeath. The only slight problem there is that only Victor Dashkov knows where this Moroi is and he has already stated that there is nothing he can be offered that will tempt him to give up the information. Rose figures that freedom may be the answer to this problem. So along with Lissa, whom she’d promised to take along on her next adventure, and Eddie, her friend and fellow dhampir, she breaks into the high security prison, determined to get what she wants. Only, she’d never banked on Lissa being the only one to be able to return Dimitri’s soul to him, and Dimitri’s not going to make it easy.
Thoughts and impressions: The start of this book, breaking into a high security prison, was by far the most interesting first half of any of the other VA books so far. I admire her determination to get Dimitri back, going so far as to break the man she considers her enemy out of prison, and make a pact with the devil. But how did she not see that Dimitri would be profoundly changed by his experiences as a Strigoi? She is unable to see past the end of her nose half the time, with her selfish motivations. I got the impression that she expected Dimitri to just bounce back as though he hadn’t just spent the past few months as a killing machine.
I feel very sorry for Adrian, too. True to her word, she gives him a chance and is dating him as this book opens, but despite her inner voice protests that she really does love him, all she ever thinks of is Dimitri, Dimitri, Dimitri. Even when he asks her to leave her alone, she just cannot bring herself to honour his wishes, going so far as to corner him in a church service filled with others, risking him making a spectacle of himself in front of all these people who still don’t really know what to make of a Strigoi who’s been turned back into a dhampir. Even Adrian, shallow as he is, deserves better than that, better than Rose. He’s a character that has a lot of room for personal growth and this is ignored in favour of constant obsessing over Dimitri. It was low of Mead to already set up the basis for the Adrian – Sydney relationship that she’s hinted at in the spinoff. (It was one line, but it was still a blatant set up).
On top of that, Rose just cannot keep her mouth shut, even though she knows that it always gets her into trouble. She brings all the shit down on herself and I feel nothing but frustration towards her.
Style: A definite downhill slide in style. At least the book wasn’t just filler until the last 100 pages this time around. Again, syntax, especially when prepositions are involved, is not correct English. It’s frustrating that such blatant errors are not caught and corrected before publication. I don’t mind the odd typo, but when the various components of the sentence are not in their correct positions as often as you see it in Mead’s work, it is frustrating.
Final verdict: The best start to any of the books, but the ending didn’t even have those 100 pages of action that I’ve become accustomed to – possibly because they were at the start instead and Mead can’t bring herself to write 200 pages of action. That’d be asking too much. Bit frustrated by this one. 3 stars – closer to 2.
Extra notes: Bad language is quite frequently used the same way as most teens will use bad language. Sex is not present but two characters do get naked together.