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.

 

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5 Responses to VAMPIRE ACADEMY: Where’s my dhampir revolution?

  1. serena says:

    You expressed my thoughts on the final book perfectly!
    I enjoyed it but I did feel that in the previous books dhampirs were about to start a revolution that never really happened.
    Rose -and even Dimitri, who always took his duty sooooo seriously- at a certain point in the series come to the realisation that their life is as important as that of a Moroi, and they seem to think it unfair that they have to sacrifice everything for those who belong to a “superior race”.
    But then in book 6, all they care about is protecting Lissa ( uhm..did you like Lissa? I never really understood why Rose loved her so much ) and the monarchy.

    Mead created a society where a dhampir woman can choose between sacrifing her life to protect some rich Moroi or she can become a “blood whore”. But she also made it very clear that these two options were not ideal and she hinted many times that things were about to change in the Moroi/Dhampir world. But like you said, it never happened.
    My problem with this ending is that Moroi just seem to quietly accept the fact that they are inferior and that they have no choice but to be someone else’s servants, and for Dhampir women it’s even worse since if you choose to rebel to your destiny you’ll basically end up being a sex slave.

    The moroi/damphir situation reminded me a little of the hierarchy in Harry Potter’s world, or to the Capitol/Districts dynamic in the Hunger Games ( I mention them because I see from the blog pictures that you read the books )
    But in those worlds, after many struggles, the oppressed groups finally fight to gain freedom!
    I understand that the villains here are the Strigoi and that Dhampir and Moroi and not supposed to fight against each other and I’m not suggesting that, but I really do hope that in future books Mead will show us some kind of rebellion.

    Eheh..Lissa’s election was really silly, but these are vampires who can’t live five minutes without a bodyguard, so what she did must have looked very impressive :)

    ps: I read the first five books last summer too! and I only discovered the paperback edition with the pretty red covers when I bought Last sacrifice. I feel a little weird about Kindle but I should probably start to consider buying it..

    • Lucia says:

      Thanks, Serena! Yeah, there were some really interesting moments where Dmitri and Rose started to realize that their lives and futures had value too, but the potential was never fully realized. However, while I didn’t mention it in this post, I loved that the bond was finally broken at the end, so that there could be some independence. Finally! Rose and Dmitri would still serve as bodyguards to Queen Lissa, but it would only be the normal kind of Moroi-dhampir relationship. Not complete co-dependence. I mean, the bond was a cool narrative device that Mead used to bring Lissa’s thoughts into the storyline, and it made for great drama, but I was so relieved that Rose could lead her own life to some extent at the end. Plus, like you, I was not a Lissa fan. At all. I found her alternately dull and annoying. Christian deserves so much better. (I love him!) And where does she get off being a b*tch to Jill? Team Jill!

      Yeah, the dhampir women have it bad. Even other dhampirs look down on them if they choose to not serve as Guardians. They can’t even have children unless it is with Moroi, yet they are judged for these type of relationships and seen as blood whores. Like you said, either way they have subservient futures. This is even more frustrating since the dhampirs are stronger and healthier, but have let the Moroi convince them of their “place” in society.

      Interesting comparison to Harry Potter and The Hunger Games. Yes, I am a HUGE fan of both series.

      Regarding the covers, I did a google search to find the cute red covers you were talking about. Yes, those are much better! I like! Yeah, I’m pretty addicted to my Kindle these days because I just have no more shelf space for any more books. As a grad student, I always have piles and piles of books checked out from the library, and I just feeling like I’m drowning in books sometimes. My Kindle is a nice escape. Plus, you can get all the classics for free. (That’s how I’m reading War & Peace right now.) Though anyone with a computer can do that, of course, it’s a nicer reading experience with the Kindle screen versus my computer screen. Also, now that I have an Android phone, I downloaded the Kindle app for my phone and that was totally free. Sometimes when I’m on the go–waiting in line or something–I can just pull out my phone and read a little bit.

  2. serena says:

    I know, Team Jill!! ( and team Christian, definitely. Lissa never deserved him ) I hear she’ll be an important character in Bloodlines, along with Adrian.

    I agree about the bond, annoying but also a very good narrative device – imagine what Blood Promise would have been like without it! thousands of pages of Rose trapped in that horrible place..ugh.

    Uh. Now you made me want to try Kindle. My problem is, it doesn’t SMELL like books. But I do have the habit of carrying a book in my bag ( like Rory Gilmore. At times, she was cool ) and that would make it much easier.
    I’ll see if I can turn into a modern reader and let you know how it goes :)

  3. Brooke says:

    Isn’t that what fanfiction is for? :)
    I agree about the dhampir revolution, it should have happened a long time ago.

  4. Nitro* says:

    You couldn’t be more right!From the beginning I had a strong dislike for the Moroi and I couldn’t believe that the Dhampir’s didn’t Rebel against those arrogant lazy pricks,they were treated like crap-especially the women-and yet they didn’t do anything.

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