Saturday, March 19, 2011

Last Sacrifice by Richelle Mead

Spoilers for all six books are contained within. Beware!

Title: Last Sacrifice
Author: Richelle Mead
Publisher: Razorbill
Release Date: December 7th, 2010
Pages: 594 pages (hardback)
How I Got the Book: Bought it from Amazon.

Rose Hathaway has always played by her own rules. She broke the law when she ran away from St. Vladimir's Academy with her best friend and last surviving Dragomir princess, Lissa. She broke the law when she fell in love with her gorgeous, off-limits instructor, Dimitri. And she dared to defy Queen Tatiana, leader of the Moroi world, risking her life and reputation to protect generations of dhampir guardians to come.

Now that law has finally caught up with Rose--for a crime she didn't even commit. She's in prison for the highest offense imaginable: the assassination of a monarch. She'll need help from both Dimitri and Adrian to find the one living person who can stall her execution and force the Moroi elite to acknowledge a shocking new candidate for the royal throne: Vasilisa Dragomir.

But the clock on Rose's life is running out. Rose knows in her heart the world of the dead wants her back...and this time she is truly out of second chances. The big question is, when your whole life is about saving others, who will save you?

Join Rose, Dimitri, Adrian, and Lissa in Last Sacrifice, the epic, unforgettable finale to Richelle Mead's international #1 bestselling Vampire Academy series.


After the cliffhanger ending of Spirit Bound, Rose is set to stand trial for the murder of the Moroi queen Tatiana, the great-aunt of her boyfriend Adrian. However, her friends and family don't plan to let hr go on trial. They break her out with the help of some explosions and she goes on the run with her Lissa-appointed bodyguard Dimitri. Their plan is to get her somewhere safe until she can be proven innocent, but Rose has her own mission: find Lissa's illegitimate half-sibling. Meanwhile, Lissa works hard at court to clear Rose's name, find Tatiana's true killer, and maybe even become the next queen.

When I first read the book and wrote the review for it in December 2010, I was on a cloud of euphoria and not thinking very clearly. None of my favorite characters died (even if two of my favorites were given serious crap), the series had what I thought was a good ending, and it was eleven at night. I just wanted to write my review and go to bed. That was a mistake. Without a critical mind in my head, I reviewed this book, the book I anticipated more than any other in 2010. This time around, I've got my head on straight.

First comes the good parts: Lissa. each piece of the story that showed what she was doing at court and her growth as a character were amazing. From what I know, very few fans liked Lissa at the beginning and I didn't care much for her either. Now she's my favorite female character. She underwent staggering growth in six books and I'm proud of the person she's become. This girl's cutting is long behind her; now she is true royalty, a woman who can stand on her own without leaning on Rose to support her. I think she'll make an amazing queen. Too bad I won't be able to see it for myself.

The expansion into the world of the Keepers, the Moroi and such that live in caves away from civilization, was fun while it lasted. I don't see any reason why it was there other than set-up for the spin-off (because you know that's exactly what this is), but I liked it. Angeline, a dhampir girl in the Keeper world, was an interesting one and it would be a crime if she didn't appear in the spin-off. We do learn who Lissa's sibling is and anyone who figured out Mead's style will know who it is. That doesn't mean it can't still be a shock, though.

Now then, on to the bad... And there's a lot of it. First stop: Adrian. He'd had so much bull thrown at him over the course of the series and he didn't deserve any of it. Adrian was always more compelling than Dimitri, especially in the later books, because he's (figuratively) human. He has his issues and problems and his character has such life, but he's given such horrible treatment. This guy funds your trip to Siberia so you can kill the guy you love (or try and fail, more accurately) and then you repay him by cheating on him and using his credit card for things like a hotel in Las Vegas? Wow... I'm glad they broke up. Adrian deserves better than that.

What I hate worse is that he won't get over his heartbreak on his own. No, everyone and their kitchen sink knows by now that people are already making calls of "Adrian/Jill!" and "Adrian/Sydney!" and "love triangle!" because everyone knows it will happen in the spin-off. Allow me to make a statement to counter one I saw a Vampire Academy fan make once: FALLING IN LOVE IS NOT THE ONLY HAPPY ENDING. Apparently, it's not a happy ending until they're in love with someone. Conquering a massive case of heartbreak and being free to live life without that burden does not seem to count. Other Vampire Academy fans really make me angry sometimes, you know?

I really thought this would be one paranormal book where the female love rival wouldn't turn into a raging bitch. She didn't get the guy, but Tasha seemed like a true ally of Rose's and a friend who could be trusted. Tasha was my favorite female character until now (Lissa pushed her off the pedestal) and I hated to see that her character became the villain. Well, we can always try again elsewhere... I should have expected it. For Pete's sake, I'd read the fifth Georgina book a few months earlier and the same thing: love rival/friend to main character turns into a horrible person over the guy they both like.

A series-wide problem that became obvious to me in this book is how women would use a man's feelings for them to get stuff done. There were at least two instances in this book and what Rose got Adrian to do for her in previous books would account for many more. I advocate the equality of men and women. That's what being feminist is about. In this series, women are often painted as manipulative creatures that are above men and act like puppeteers. Whether real or fictional, women do not need this kind of image! Why is playing with the heart, something most can agree is an unforgivable crime, so common within these novels?

Thinking over this book again, I suddenly realized it: I hate Rose Hathaway. Adrian's speech at the end of the novel was dead-on. Over the course of the series and especially the last two books, Rose became a manipulative girl trying to pass herself off as a hero and left a lot of collateral damage behind on the way to her happy ending with Dimitri. Whatever Jill wanted to do with her life is pretty much screwed now, Eddie will be lucky to get any sort of job after what's happened, and Adrian's got one heck of a broken heart. She just brushes all of this off with "you're only a victim because you're letting yourself be one." I need help for this one:

Let it be known that I am delusional. I loved this series so much at the beginning that my poor inner child can't accept the ending as a natural one and I made up two scenarios that explain the mess it turned into. One: The news of Dimitri becoming Strigoi drove Rose insane and her mental instability accounts for her thoughts and actions from Blood Promise onward. Two: Avery's spirit magic did something to Rose's brain during that fight and everything that happened from that point onward is because of that. I liked Blood Promise, so I use the second explanation. Either way, Rose stopped acting like Rose and that's how it fell apart.

Make fun of me. Comment and tell me how pathetic I am. I don't care. All I know is that this wonderful series that I fangirled and pushed on everyone I could (even my mother!) fell apart sometime around Spirit Bound  (or Blood Promise, but I liked that book and didn't notice if it happened in there) and I will not invest my money in the spin-off or its first book Bloodlines. I read the Georgina and Dark Swan books too, but I'm not reading anymore of Mead's books after the final Georgina book comes out. I'll leave Dark Swan unfinished and look it up one day. Why keep reading when I know the series will eventually implode? It happened in Georgina, then in Vampire Academy, and it will happen again.

2 stars!