Friday, November 12, 2010

Spirit Bound review

Spirit Bound
by Richelle Mead

In this fifth installment of the Vampire Academy series, we catch up with Rose and Lissa, a few months after the end of Blood Promise when Rose failed in her attempt to save her former instructor (and secret boyfriend) Dimitri from being turned into a Strigoi, or evil vampire.

I was transfixed in a can't-look-away-from-a-trainwreck kind of way by all the havoc that Rose inflicts on herself. First thing she does when returning to St. Vladimir's Academy is to start dating Adrian. I felt like Rose needed a sassy gay friend to tell her, "Stop! What, what, what are you doing?" because a lot of her decisions made no sense. She's pining for Dimitri, so she decides to date a surly alcoholic jerk? She's like a bull in a china shop!  I was glad at least, when Adrian pressured her for unprotected sex, Rose had the good sense to turn him down, since she's definitely not ready for an unplanned baby.  She does let him bite her though, something she quickly comes to regret when she's left with embarrassing bite marks that she has to explain the next day.

Dimitri, in the meantime, hasn't given up on Rose. He's determined to hunt her down and turn her into one of his own kind. She's safe behind school wards for the moment, but graduation is very close, and she can't stay on campus forever.  Of course, Rose's stress increases when she realizes the graduation exam is being run by her mother, who has no intention of taking it easy on her estranged daughter.  Rose is also fearful of not getting a permanent assignment as her best friend Lissa's bodyguard (despite the obvious advantages of their unusual psychic link) and getting stuck with a desk job instead -- a possibility that looks more and more likely, the more people she manages to rub the wrong way in the royal court.

Lissa's character has always underwhelmed me... why is Rose so protective of her, other than the fact that she's been told to all her life?  But, in this book, Lissa finally steps up to the plate, using her much misunderstood Spirit powers to achieve a few miracles.

I'm mystified as to why the Moroi (the good vampires) seem content to sit around like cows for the slaughter. The Queen and her court refuse to use their magics defensively against Strigoi attacks, instead, using the dhampirs (half-vampires, like Rose) as meat-shields, even lowering the graduation age and using undertrained children when they need to beef up their security forces before they stoop to consider other options.

I'm itching to see Rose finally get over this whole, "dhampirs are second class citizens" thing. Be warned, Spirit Bound ends with a huge cliffhanger.  Now that Lissa's finally of age, she thinks that she's going to be able to vote on the Royal Council.  But, it turns out she actually needs a quorum (one other family member) in order to get her vote.  With the revelation that she may have an illegitimate half-sibling waiting to be found, the direction of the next book seems clear.  There's only one book left to go in the series (although, Mead is considering a spin-off series) so I might have to read Last Sacrifice when it comes out next month, just to see how it ends.

I borrowed this book from the library.


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