Y.A. Sci Fi / Fantasy / Horror (503 pgs.)
Lissa Dragomir is a Moroi princess: a mortal vampire with a rare gift for harnessing the earth's magic. She must be protected at all times from the Strigoi: the fiercest vampires--the ones who never die. The powerful blend of human and vampire blood that flows through Rose Hathaway, Lissa's best friend, makes her a Dhampir. Rose is dedicated to a dangerous life of protecting Lissa from Strigoi, who are hell-bent on making Lissa one of them.
Guardian Rose Hathaway's life will never be the same. The recent attack on St. Vladimir's Academy devastated the entire Moroi world. Many are dead. And, for the few victims carried off by Strigoi, their fates are even worse.
But only one victim matters... Dimitri Belikov. Rose must now choose one of two very different paths: honoring her life's vow to protect Lissa--her best friend and the last surviving Dragomir princess--or dropping out of the Academy to strike out on her own and hunt down the man she loves. She'll have to fo to the ends of the earth to find Dimitri and keep the promise he begged her to make. But the question is, when the time comes, will he want to be saved?
In this latest installment of the Vampire Academy series, rose travels to Siberia, her love Dimitri's homeland, to try and track down his newly-"awakened" self and kill him. Along the way, she encounters Dimitri's family, the Belikovs, another fellow spirit user and her shadow-kissed guardian, and--ultimately--her father, Abe Mazur. (Sorry for the spoiler).
This was a really really great book. In my eyes, the lesser-known Vampire Academy series far outshines the immensely-popular Twilight novels. The characters are written better, the plot is more exciting, and--unlike the Twilight series--its pages aren't positively dripping with teen angst. Sure it's poignant, and there are some angsty moments, but the characters are written maturely enough to acknowledge their own angst and move on.
That brings me to the main reason why I like these novels: the characters. Rose, our main protagonist, is really just a great gal. She kicks but and takes names, with an attitude to match. Her dialogue is always exciting; never, ever boring (*cough*Bella*cough*). Lissa, Rose's best friend and protectee, fills the role of emotions that Rose sometimes doesn't. She serves the purpose of, well, emotional relief (hey, I just coined a new term!).
Richelle Mead's villains are always exciting. She always has some new sidestory for each installment that's always brilliant and creative. In this novel, our villain happens to be a fellow spirit user in disguise, who hopes to turn Lissa into one of her bonded minions. I always love getting to the ends of these novels, cause I always know there's a brilliantly-written battle waiting for me.
Rose's whole encounter with Dimitri after she finally finds him was also well written. We all knew it would happen at some point, but on a personal level, their enounter together definitley did not go down like I had expected. Once again, Richelle Mead's brilliant creativity at work.
All in all, a really great read. Possibly my favorite vampire series for young adults. I do warn that if you start with this installment, you will probably be thoroughly confused at what's going on... I finished this one in two (ish?) days. Couldn't put it down. I'm already on the next one!