Read on for some of my thoughts on the Vampire Academy series by Richelle Mead, particularly book six, Last Sacrifice. This post is spoilery, if you haven’t finished the series.
I read the first five books of the Vampire Academy series last summer. Well, I basically inhaled them. They are quick and easy reads, and each one left me wanting more. I especially loved the third book, Shadow Kissed, which I think I finished one night at 1:00 a.m., and then immediately bought the fourth book on my Kindle so that I could keep reading. (Also a bonus of using an e-reader: not having to carry the Vampire Academy book covers around in public. This series is very much a case where you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover.) So, yeah, this is a really fun and addictive series that I would recommend to people who enjoy YA lit with a supernatural bent.
When I first started reading Vampire Academy, I wasn’t sure if I would like it since it is written in the first person. You really have to like the narrator to enjoy a book written in first person, and this can be even trickier when he or she is a teenager. I think first-person is the trickiest form of narration to do well, and it limits the observance of detail and our understanding of the characters’ world. (Yes, I am aware of the irony, as I am currently writing a blog post in the first person.) My worries turned out to be baseless, however, as Rose Hathaway was so awesome that I loved her voice. Rose is a strong kick-ass character, but at the same time she is also flawed—she is stubborn, impetuous, sometimes petty and short-sighted, and has a wicked temper. But these “flaws” just served to add layer and complexity to her character, as she is also incredibly brave and tough, is a loyal friend to Lissa, ultimately has a strong moral core, and spends much of her time saving people. Basically, she’s a hero. Plus, she is such snarky fun that it made me forgive her (and the author) for some of the more awkward stylistic elements of the narration.
After really enjoying the first three books, I found book four, Blood Promise, to be less enjoyable. Everything got pretty dark there for a time, and while I usually like dark, reading about Rose locked in a room and becoming Strigoi Dmitri’s personal chew toy was rough. But our girl bounced back and got her Buffy on, and things picked up again in book five, Spirit Bound. Of course, at the end of that particular book, there was a major cliffhanger, with Queen Tatiana murdered, and Rose accused of the deed. Uh oh. So, I was on pins and needles waiting for Last Sacrifice. Who actually killed the queen? Why was Rose framed? How would her name be cleared? What was up with Dmitri and his worship of Lissa? (Blech to that.) So many questions to be answered.
I read Last Sacrifice soon after it was released in December, and once again I sped through it. I enjoyed it. Abe was a big highlight. He is pretty much my new favorite character in the entire series. However, as the final book in the series from Rose’s point of view, I also found it frustrating. Where was my dhampir revolution? From early on, it was pretty clear that in the world of Vampire Academy, the Moroi treated the dhampirs as second-class citizens, born to serve them or be ostracized for choosing not to. The Moroi rely on blood from humans and/ or dhampirs to survive, and yet they treat the sources of this blood with utter contempt. Plus, the Moroi are in great danger from the Strigoi, whose whole point of existence is to kill them, and yet they just sit back and throw the dhampirs on the front lines. Seriously, Moroi? You suck.
And yet, the dhampirs accept this, and loyal service protecting the Moroi is considered an honor. I mean, I get that it is an ingrained cultural belief system, but after everything that has happened over the series, and the injustices that are perpetrated over and over again, it was so frustrating to see Rose just accepting that this is how things are, forever and ever. There were some points where it seemed like the universe of the books was on the cusp of change. For example, there was Tasha and her radical Moroi-fighting agenda, which was pretty cool. But then she was revealed to be a crazy murderer. Bummer. And Christian, who would be the next logical choice to take over where Tasha left off, is now stuck being the paramour to Queen Lissa, who despite opposing the age law, looks to be keeping things pretty status quo. Same old Moroi court rituals and institutions. Plus, the book featured “They come first.” Again. I’m so sick of that damn dhampir mantra. Look at your life, Rose. Look at your choices.
The whole monarchy should be abolished. Alas, with the ending of Last Sacrifice, all our favorite characters will be even more invested in keeping the Moroi monarch safe and in power, because it’s their darling Lissa. We got soooo close … and yet are still so far away. Also, we learned in Last Sacrifice how the Moroi choose their leader. As expected, it is complete and utter nonsense. An eighteen year old girl proved that she is capable of walking through the woods in the sun AND the rain. She survived a hike through the woods, people. With a limited supply of sunscreen! Plus, she solved a riddle. THEY SHOULD TOTALLY MAKE HER QUEEN!!! Seriously, Moroi? Seriously? Oh, and there was also a vote by the oldest, snootiest, and smallest council ever. Le sigh. These people should not be in charge of themselves. And they should certainly not be in charge of the dhampirs. I say that a dhampir revolution is absolutely necessary.
I have many other thoughts on Last Sacrifice, and the entire Vampire Academy series, but I’ll save those for another post, at another time. Thanks to my friends @dieslaughing and @tbrick2 for inspiring this post by our discussions on Twitter. Not to say that they necessarily endorse the views above, but they have already read a lot of these thoughts from me, in 140 character format. Your take? Have at it in the comments.
The person, be it gentleman or lady, who has not pleasure in a good novel, must be intolerably stupid.— Jane Austen, Northanger Abbey
Brooke on VAMPIRE ACADEMY: Where’s my dhampir revolution?
Isn't that what fanfiction is for? :) I agree about the dhampir revolution, it should have happened a long time …
liz on SWEET VALLEY CONFIDENTIAL: “Would she ever truly be free of Sweet Valley?”
Wow.Not sure If I want to read the actual book after this. Seems like poor writing (and a lot of …
natalie on SWEET VALLEY CONFIDENTIAL: “Would she ever truly be free of Sweet Valley?”
So many things wrong. Roger Collins did not stop teaching after deviln episode, Roger Barrett patman DIED before senior year,Patmans …
Elle on SWEET VALLEY CONFIDENTIAL: “Would she ever truly be free of Sweet Valley?”
I almost died laughing when I read this quote: "Ned!" she shouted. "Bring out the fucking cake!" (Alice Wakefield)
Lucia on SWEET VALLEY CONFIDENTIAL: “Would she ever truly be free of Sweet Valley?”
Oh wow, thanks so much, Maria! That means a lot!