Sunday, January 16, 2011

Review: Shadow Kiss by Richelle Mead

Rose Hathaway knows it is forbidden to love another guardian. Her best friend, Lissa - the last Dragomir princess - must always come first. Unfortunately, when it comes to gorgeous Dimitri Belikov, some rules are meant to be broken...

But since making her first Strigoi kills, Rose hasn't been feeling right. Something dark has begun to grow in her mind, and ghostly shadows warn of a terrible evil drawing nearer to the Academy's iron gates. And now that Lissa and Rose's sworn enemy, Victor Dashkov, is on trial for his freedom, tensions in the Moroi world are higher than ever.

Lying to Lissa about Dimitri is one thing, but suddenly there's way more than friendship at stake. The immortal undead are on the prowl, and they want vengeance for the lives that Rose has stolen. In a heart-stopping battle to rival her worst nightmares, Rose will have to choose between life, love, and the two people who matter most...but will her choice mean that only one can survive?

I feel like I'm going through a bit of a vampire revival these days! Might have something to do with marathoning the True Blood television series...anyways...

I have some seriously mixed feelings about the Vampire Academy series. I read books 1 and 2 one after the other, but it has taken me months to get back to book 3. I started it ages ago, but have been unable to finish it until now. While I did enjoy it, I have since tried to read book 4...but have had to put it down too. I have a feeling it might be another while before I finish it as well.

One of the reasons I know I had a hard time getting into this book is that it's ending was spoiled for me - before I'd even read books 1 and 2 - by a couple of over-excited teenagers at the library where I worked. Now that I've actually finished it, this no longer effects the rest of the series. But another reason is the actual writing of the novel. I often feel like Mead is spoon feeding me the plot, and this has to do with the way practically every significant plot point of the previous books is reiterated, in detail, throughout the novel. To be honest, it frustrates me. As it is most prominent early in her novels (as I've also found in book 4), I find it very hard to want to continue reading.

Still, I was able to push my way though this (after a very long break from the series, as mentioned) and by the end of the narrative I found myself interested again in Rose's adventures. Thus, mixed feelings. Indeed, I do thoroughly enjoy the story - once I'm able to get into it. Shadow Kiss even had me on tenterhooks, wondering how everything was going to happen!

I've said it before, and I'll say it again - I love Rose and Dimitri. They are scorching in their need for each other, and I will admit that their relationship breaks my heart. I'm not as torn between love and duty as Rose is though; or between Ditmitri and Lissa, in fact. I am all for love and Dimitri! Realistically, I'd be more torn if Lissa didn't irritate me. I feel she relies too much on Rose for someone who is meant to be smart and strong, and possibly the future Queen - and for someone actively wanting Moroi to take a stand and learn to take care of themselves. I'm glad to see her speak her mind to Tatiana, the current Queen, and hope it occurs more often! But what irritates me the most is how utterly oblivious she is to Rose's feelings - not only in terms of Dimitri, but the effects her magic has on Rose. Sure, Lissa doesn't have the advantage of a psychic link, but they are meant to be best friends, and have been for years and years...yet she seems to have absolutely no ability to read Rose. I really could have slapped her at the end...and without giving away too much, that's all I can say about that! I do hope Lissa grows more in the coming books.

By the end of Shadow Kiss, I honestly couldn't put it down. But it's very hard going to get to that need to read, and it effects the series as a whole. I want to know what happens to Rose, Dimitri and Lissa - yet trawling through the recounting of previous narrative can be tedious. By book 3 or 4 in a series, I'd expect that it can be assumed a reader has read the earlier books - and if not, that they'll have to go back and do so, or simply make do!!

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