Sunday, February 28, 2016

Book Review: Blood Promise, by Richelle Mead (Second Review for the 2016 TBR Pile Reading Challenge)

Here's my second review for this AWESOME challenge,
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Blood Promise
(Vampire Academy, Book 4)
Richelle Mead
Hardcover, 503 pages
Penguin Razorbill
August 29, 2009
Paranormal Romance, Urban Fantasy, Young Adult Fiction

Book Synopsis

Rose Hathaway's life will never be the same.

The recent attack on St. Vladimir's Academy devastated the entire Moroi world. Many are dead. And, for the few victims carried off by Strigoi, their fates are even worse. A rare tattoo now adorns Rose's neck, a mark that says she's killed far too many Strigoi to count. But only one victim matters ... Dimitri Belikov. Rose must now choose one of two very different paths: honoring her life's vow to protect Lissa—her best friend and the last surviving Dragomir princess—or, dropping out of the Academy to strike out on her own and hunt down the man she loves. She'll have to go to the ends of the earth to find Dimitri and keep the promise he begged her to make. But the question is, when the time comes, will he want to be saved?

Now, with everything at stake—and worlds away from St. Vladimir's and her unguarded, vulnerable, and newly rebellious best friend—can Rose find the strength to destroy Dimitri? Or, will she sacrifice herself for a chance at eternal love?

I enjoyed this installment of the Vampire Academy series almost as much as the previous three. I did have to struggle through some chapters. The book is full of surprises and twists, and not all of them are pleasant

Although all the books in the series so far have contained dark sections, in which the evil vampires, the Strigoi, have done horrible things,  Blood Promise was an even darker read. It was also a very difficult one for me, emotionally speaking. I was only able to tolerate it because I had already read ahead, and had also checked Wikipedia to find out how things ultimately turned out. Call me crazy for doing these things, but I just couldn't stand the suspense!

The thing about this book is, we get to see what Dimitri is like as......HORRORS! .....a STRIGOI. And it's not a pretty picture at all. His character has been transformed, and he now looks at the world in terms of predators and prey. He still loves Rose, but his love is twisted. He wants her to "awaken"; that is, he wants her to join him as a Strigoi, so that they can then both rule -- ruthlessly, of course -- the Strigoi empire.

In spite of the fact that I did read ahead,  I still don't know how I was able to endure seeing the frightening changes In Dimitri. I can just imagine how terrible and sickening it would have been if Edward Cullen had turned into one of the Volturi...

Amidst all the darkness, however, there is a faint ray of hope. I won't say anything about it, except that all is not lost for Dimitri and Rose, although she thinks it is. One thing I can say is that there's a moment during one of their conversations in which she can see Dimitri's real character coming through, as he reminisces about his family. It doesn't last long, but it does give the reader reason to hope....

One thing I loved about this book was meeting Dimitri's family. I especially loved Dimitri's mom. She actually became a surrogate mother to Rose, whose own mother, Janine Hathaway, has never been very involved with Rose's upbringing, because she (Janine) decided to become a guardian. Dimitri's sisters are wonderful, as well! They all immediately accept Rose as a member of their family, just because she is Dimitri's girlfriend.

The chapters dealing with Dimitri's family also helped me get through the ones describing Dimitri as a Strigoi. These chapters also contributed to that faint ray of hope I hung onto for dear life. I figured that Rose meeting his family had to be something with positive implications for the future.

There are some other new characters in this book, such as Sydney, the Alchemist, and the very mysterious Abe Mazur, who takes a great interest in Rose's mission in Russia. 

Back at St. Vladimir's, other new characters appear, such as Avery, whom Lissa thinks might have been sent by Queen Tatiana (whom I absolutely detest) to spy on her. Avery turns out to be into fun, fun, fun, and gets Lissa into some wild adventures. 

The irrepressible Adrian Ivashkov is back, of course! I love him as much as I love Dimitri! They're very different people, but each is wonderful in his own way. Beneath Adrian's constantly joking behavior there's a tenderness and seriousness that surprise Rose when she begins to get to know him better.  He's always had a major crush on her. So he continues to hope that, with Dimitri seemingly out of the picture, he'll have a chance to win Rose's affections. 

This novel is also different from the previous three in that the beginning starts out with some action. Then there's a section -- when Rose meets and gets to know Dimitri's family -- where the action slows down, only to pick up again when she finally encounters Dimitri the Strigoi.

Rose is as much of a kick-butt, strong character, as ever, and her resourcefulness and integrity really shine through on every page. Her relationship with Lissa is also very touching. More than best friends, they're more like sisters, and Rose comes through for her when things back home get too crazy, and Lissa's life is actually in danger. Christian, with whom Lissa had been experiencing some tension, also gets in on the action. This part of the book was just breathtakingly GOOD. Richelle Mead has an incredible imagination, as all of us fans know!

Now that I've mentioned Christian, I have to say that I'm very happy that he and Rose are now really getting along. They both have Lissa's best interests at heart, after all, so it's great that they've become friends and allies.

The book does end on a positive note, in spite of everything. In short, this is another great installment in this incredibly awesome series! I would just caution younger readers that the chapters dealing with the Strigoi are pretty frightening and unpleasant to get through, and pretty violent, as well. I think that Mead should have shortened this part of the book, as I did not enjoy being exposed to such evil for that long. 

Another problem I had with the book was the ease with which Rose got to Russia, and made her way through the country, alone, without knowing the language. She just happened to encounter people who spoke English. This was not very believable. 

 Other than the above objections, I thought the book was well-paced, and everything was tied up neatly at the end, for the most part; there's a bit of a cliffhanger at the end of this one, as well.         




Scorpio Richelle Mead is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of urban fantasy books for both adults and teens. Originally from Michigan, Richelle now lives in Seattle, Washington where she works on her three series full-time: Georgina Kincaid, Dark Swan, and Vampire Academy.

A life-long reader, Richelle has always loved mythology and folklore. When she can actually tear herself away from books (either reading or writing them), she enjoys bad reality TV, traveling, trying interesting cocktails, and shopping for dresses. She's a self-professed coffee addict and has a passion for all things wacky and humorous.

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