Pages: 489 (paperback)
Published: 2010 by RazorBill/ Penguin
Recommended for: those who, like me, enjoy the Vampire Academy series
SPOILER ALERT: This review contains mild spoilers from the first four books in the VA series.
Dhampir Rose Hathaway has (narrowly) survived her escapades in Russia, where she endeavored to track down Dimitri, her former lover turned Strigoi-- those are the 'bad', nasty, immoral, super-strong corrupt vampires, for those who are new to the series. Now Rose is faced with the series of infamously difficult trials which will grant her status as an official Guardian-- protector of the aristocratic Moroi vampires-- at last. After having staked dozens of Strigoi in Russia and during the siege of St Vladimir's, these final exams aren't much of a challenge for Rose's mad skills. But the fact that Dimitri seems to have followed her to the High Moroi Court might well be her undoing, because this time Dimitri doesn't have an eternal partnership with Rose on the brain... more like he wants to savor killing her before any number of Rose's newfound enemies can perform the deed themselves.
Rose knows she can't evade Dimitri forever-- her only options are to stake the love of her life, or else somehow, find a way to do what everyone says is impossible and restore a Strigoi to life. Rose's BFF and powerful spirit user, Dragomir Princess Lissa, thinks she knows someone who might know the secret to saving Strigoi: Victor Dashkov, the mentally unstable and conniving Moroi whom Lissa once adored for his charisma... before Victor's torture of her and betrayal of his own daughter landed him a cell in a secluded Alaskan prison. Rose and the gang are forced to plan a high-security jail break, one whose consequences could be devastating if the truth ever got out...
And that's not even half of their problems! I feel sorry for whoever has to blurb the Vampire Academy series-- those short summaries can become quite extensive due to all the complex characters and relationships. Not to mention all of those subplots! I really enjoyed this fifth installment in the Vampire Academy series, though not as much as Blood Promise. Once again the book was impossible to put down and the action never stalled, though I do have a few complaints this time around. Everything, from the jail break to the Guardian trials, felt a bit too easy-- I never really felt like Rose was in any danger of failing. Even the scenes with Dimitri lacked the sheer intensity of the previous books; his character as a Strigoi seemed a little inconsistent to me as well, though I guess he was probably pretty sick of trying to convince Rose to 'join him on the Dark Side' and just wanted to slit her throat and get her out of the way.
Not that this book was really about Rose and Dimitri (you know, the kick-ass couple who were the main draw of the series?) I'm half-convinced the guy Rose is snogging on the front cover must be Adrian, because, man, do they do a lot of snogging in this installment. I've actually half-heartedly switched to Team Adrian, mainly because I think he deserves a chance with her after everything he's done to help her and Lissa. But I'm not so hopeful as to think that Adrian and Rose will actually, ultimately end up together after all the extensive trouble she's gone through to save Dimitri's soul and whatnot. I like Adrian, though: he's the ultimate bum-ish boyfriend who never does anything (except, okay, loan out his money and walk around in Rose's dreams wearing a bathrobe), yet we somehow knew from the start that he has a heart of gold. The ending of this book absolutely (though not literally, obviously ;) killed me-- I didn't see it coming at all, and would have read Spirit Bound if only for its shocker of an ending. All in all, a pretty good book, but definitely not the strongest of the series.
Cover: 3/5 (I hate carrying around covers with people kissing on them-- it's awkward when people ask you what you're reading)
Plot: 4/5Overall Rating: 4/5