Thursday, March 31, 2016

Book Review: Spirit Bound, by Richelle Mead (Third review for the 2016 TBR Pile Reading Challenge)

Here's my third review for this AWESOME challenge,
hosted by Evie @ Bookish Lifestyle!

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Spirit Bound
(Vampire Academy, Book 5)
Richelle Mead
Hardcover, First Edition, 489 pages
Penguin Razorbill
May 18, 2010
Paranormal Romance, Urban Fantasy

Book Synopsis:
Dimitri gave Rose the ultimate choice. But she chose wrong...

After a long and heartbreaking journey to Dimitri's birthplace in Siberia, Rose Hathaway has finally returned to St. Vladimir's-and to her best friend, Lissa. It is nearly graduation, and the girls can't wait for their real lives beyond the Academy's iron gates to begin. But Rose's heart still aches for Dimitri, and she knows he's out there, somewhere.

She failed to kill him when she had the chance. And now her worst fears are about to come true. Dimitri has tasted her blood, and now he is hunting her. And this time he won't rest until Rose joins him... forever.

Once again, Richelle Mead has delivered a page-turning novel with the most fabulous characters, and twists and turns galore! The most unexpected things happen, especially when an old enemy unwittingly -- as well as unwillingly -- becomes a lifesaver, and Rose finds her hopes renewed, while at the same time facing the uncomfortable prospect of having to decide between the two men in her life.

I love Dimitri, so it really hurt to see how much emotional turmoil and guilt he suffered in this novel. It also hurt to feel Rose's inner turmoil right along with her. She still loves him, of course, and doesn't know what to do about the current situation. At the same time, she feels guilty about not loving Adrian enough. Dimitri and Rose are two highly-ethical people with noble ideals, and their lives have seemed to conspire against those very ideals. Mead handles their inner conflicts with great skill; psychologically, they are very believable.

In this novel, I can't help but feel sorry for Adrian Ivashkov. In fact, I kept switching back and forth from "Team Dimitri" to "Team Adrian". Dimitri is (or was, before he was turned into a Strigoi), an admirable hero -- romantic, intelligent, brave, loyal, passionate, a dedicated fighter and guardian. But Adrian.....there's just something about Adrian.... He appears to be a flippant, irreverent, spoiled rich boy who only wants to have fun. This is just a facade, however. There's another side to him, one that he's mostly willing to let Rose see. He's also tender, thoughtful, and as smart as Dimitri. He might not be totally a hero, but his heart's in the right place. 

And now, in this novel, he has become Rose's boyfriend, even though she's still conflicted about Dimitri.

I really can't blame Rose for giving Adrian a chance, however. She believes that Dimitri is completely lost to her now. Besides, he has already warned her that he will be watching out for an opportunity to kill her, since she had already refused to join him as a Strigoi. So, reluctantly, Rose decides to see if she and Adrian can have a relationship. Unfortunately, although she does develop some feelings for Adrian, who wears his heart on his sleeve for her, deep inside she still harbors a strong love for Dimitri....

Incredible things happen in this installment of the series, but then, every one of these books has very imaginative twists and turns that prove what a terrific writer Mead is, and how easily her fertile imagination concocts seemingly hopeless scenarios that end up being resolved in very surprising ways.

Lissa and Rose are reunited at St. Vladimir's, and become partners in a plan hatched by Rose (of course!) which might just work to save not only Dimitri, but others who were unwillingly turned into Strigoi in the past. It's a daring plan that involves illegal activities. If Rose is caught, her future as a guardian will be over.  Who knows what will happen to her partners in crime? (Hint: Adrian is also involved, naturally.)

I love how much Lissa and Christian have grown since the series began. They are both now totally committed to joining forces with the guardians for the protection of themselves and their fellow Moroi. They are no longer content to take a passive stance while guardians risk their lives for them. This is one of the elements of the series that I believe has made it such a winner with YA paranormal and urban fantasy fans. This development lends an air of excitement to the plot of this novel, and it was present in the previous two, as well. With their magical talents, Moroi can work together with the guardians in order to defeat the evil Strigoi. Lissa, who is the last of the royal Dragomir line, is leading this fight, right along with Christian. In the process, the two resolve their previous differences. Mead thus brings them together as lovers just as much as fighters. This is definitely great story-telling!

Eddie Castile, a dhampir who has become a good friend of Rose's, also returns in this installment. I've always liked him. He's a very loyal friend to Rose, and is willing to help her as much as he can whenever she embarks on one of her crazy adventures. He totally believes in her! Well, after all, he does owe his life to Rose; she, along with Christian, saved him from Strigoi in a previous novel.

Of course, the ever-so-lovable Queen Tatiana creates some havoc in this novel, too, and pushes a controversial decree that totally divides the Moroi. Rose, of course, is infuriated, and manages to get herself in trouble, as usual. Not everyone sides with the queen, though.

A new character is introduced -- Robert Doru, who happens to be the evil Victor Dashkov's half-brother, and holds a secret vital to the future of the Moroi world. Like Lissa and Adrian, he's a Spirit user. He's not totally fleshed out in this novel, but I suspect we will see more of him in the final book of the series, Last Sacrifice.

Just as everything seems to be finally on the way to being resolved, Mead suddenly throws an unexpected (or not, as she excels at plot twists that have readers alternatively groaning and cheering) wrench into the works. This makes the novel end in yet another cliffhanger. But again, I don't mind this at all, coming from Richelle Mead. She's too gifted a writer for this to make any difference to me. I'll simply go on to the next installment, where I know the cliffhanger will be explained and neatly dealt with!

Richelle Mead has created another great plot  for this installment of her bestselling series! All PNR/UF fans who also enjoy reading the Young Adult Fiction genre will surely love Spirit Bound!  


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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