I’m now halfway through the Vampire Academy series with Book 3: Shadow Kiss (2008) by Richelle Mead, and I’m hooked. I have to find out what happens, I have to finish this series, and it’s likely going to happen soon. Well, pretty soon. I’ve got some other books to read, too. These books aren’t great literary masterpieces, but they’re fun and entertaining. Even though this last book dragged a bit in the middle, it’s still easy, engaging reading.
Mead has created a world where there are three types of “vampire” creatures. There are the typical vampires, who drink blood and dislike direct sunlight. These vampires don’t kill their food sources, and are able to do a little magic. Rose Hathaway, our main character is a Dhampir, which is half-vampire and half-human. Dhampirs are strong, and bred and trained as protectors of the Vampires–especially as protection against the Strigoi. Strigoi are evil vampires that are very strong and kill pretty much everyone they come across.
We come back to Rose Hathaway soon after the end of Book 2. She is in her final semester at the Vampire Academy, and she’s about to start field training–a special six weeks where the senior Dhampirs are assigned a student vampire to protect and are tested in “real life” situations. Rose is haunted by the traumatic events that concluded Book 2, and she keeps seeing ghostly images of Mason around the castle grounds. There’s more tension building around the relationship between Vampires and Dhampirs in this book. Some Vampires want to learn to fight and use magic for offensive protection as the threat from the Strigoi grows stronger. Rose finally begins to question whether giving up her life to protect the Vampires is worth it. Finally and perhaps most important, Rose has to deal with her feelings for Dmitri.
I have some mixed feelings about Dmitri. He is a twenty-five year old teacher, and he is in love with Rose, his seventeen-year-old student. I think it’s only the fact that this is a made-up vampire world–and he’s very dreamy–that I can handle this relationship. It doesn’t help that they go out of their way to keep everything secret. Their relationship reminds me of those news stories of high school kids hooking up with their teachers, and it grosses me out. On the other hand, Rose is pretty mature and this is a different world. I think it helps if I imagine that Rose is really in her twenties and is in college. Also, Dmitri, despite his inappropriate relationship with an underage girl, is one of my favorite characters in the book. At best, I don’t think this is a relationship to which young-adult readers should aspire.
The first quarter of the book held my attention because it was all about the new field training exercise, but then the book seemed to slow a bit as Read set up the mystery and characters for the rest of the novel. Finally, the last quarter of the book exploded into action and drama. After being a little bored, I was a kind of freaked out reading the climax of the story.
***SPOILERS AND PREDICTIONS***
I was not expecting to see Dmitri “turned” Strigoi, and Rose leave behind Vasilisa and the Academy at the end of this book. I am really looking forward to seeing what Read decides to do next with these characters. However, I do believe with all my heart that Dmitri will somehow make it through. After all, he is one of the main reasons I’m reading these books and he and Rose have a connection like no other.
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