Last Sacrifice by Richelle Mead
2010; Penguin Group
Rose Hathaway has always played by her own rules.
She broke the law when she ran away from St. Vladimir’s Academy with her best friend and last surviving Dragomir Princess, Lissa. She broke the law when she fell in love with her gorgeous, off-limits instructor, Dimitri. And she dared to defy Queen Tatiana, leader of the Moroi world, risking her life and reputation to protect generations of dhampir guardian to come.
Now the law has finally caught up with Rose- for a crime she didn’t even commit. She’s in prison for the highest offense imaginable: the assassination of a monarch. She’ll need help from both Dimitri and Adrian to find the one living person who can stall her execution and force the Moroi elite to acknowledge a shocking new candidate for the royal throne: Vasilisa Dragomir.
But the clock on Rose’s life is running out. Rose knows in her heart the world of the dead wants her back… and this time she is truly out of second chances. The big question is, when your life is about saving others, who will save you? (courtesy of Goodreads)
Last Sacrifice exemplifies just why Vampire Academy is a fabulous series. I'll list my reasons:
1. Rose - Richelle created a unique protagonist in Rose. She is not the type of person that many of us would like if she was real. She's abrasive, outspoken, jumps to conclusions, etc. Yet as a reader, we all love her. We understand her. We know that she often acts and then thinks later. We know that she is fiercely loyal toward her friends, yet sometimes doesn't seem to understand them at all. Similarly as much as she loves her friends, she often does really stupid things that hurt them. She can't trust in other people. I love how Rose grew in Last Sacrifice. She had to step back and let people do things for her. Being Rose, she wasn't able to do this completely, but she still learned how to trust...even if those people weren't always trustworthy.
2. The Narration - Rose has a one-way portal to Lissa'a mind. What a genius plot device! Rose is hidden away for much of Last Sacrifice - doing important things on her end but still away from the action. The happenings at court are crucial to solve who killed Queen Tatiana. With Rose's mind-reading ability, we know everything that's going on. Adrian's ability to travel in dreams also serves this same function. Richelle did a fabulous job of telling the story in first-person narrative yet spending page after page with Lissa, Christian, and Adrian. It never feels disjointed or confusing.
3. The Romance - Vampire Academy is one of the best romances I've ever read. The passion between Rose and Dimitri and Rose and Adrian is palpable and heart-pounding. Richelle manages to convey such feeling in things as simple as a strand of hair. I love how Last Sacrifice (and other VA books) straddle YA and adult. It's more mature than many YA yet never goes overboard. The romance in Last Sacrifice does not disappoint. I'll get to that more in #4.
4. The Love Triangle - Will it be Dimitri and Rose or Adrian and Rose? The first few books I was staunchly Team Dimitri. Coming into Last Sacrifice, I wasn't so sure. Dimitri starts out so perfect, but develops flaws as the series goes on. Adrian starts out looking like a big jerk, but grows more relatable and loveable as the series goes on. Both, in their own ways, are good for Rose and she for them. Rose makes a choice in Last Sacrifice. I thought this was one of the best conclusions to a love triangle I've ever seen. Let's just say that it doesn't end perfectly clean with the loser skipping off thrilled for Rose and her new lover's happiness. Much more realistic than most books. And I love that Rose was forced to understand the consequences of her choices - the sacrifices people made for her.
5. The Mythology - By this point, we think we know everything about the VA mythology. And we do know most things. But Richelle introduces another element into the story: Rogue vampires. It's actually my one complaint about this book - the rogue vampires' story is left incomplete. I feel like there was so much more there that we never learned. I'm hoping the spin-off will explore this angle. Overall, I love how rich the mythology is - the different types of vampires, the magical abilities, the dhampir/guardians, the feudal culture. It's fascinating.
6. The Plot - Wow...Last Sacrifice really has it all. Political intrigue. Romance. Mystery. Suspense. Action. Heartache. Anger. The book starts out with Rose stuck in prison. Up till the very end, Rose is on the run, away from the main action at Court. But the plot never drags. Trouble, of course, comes to Rose - she invites it. Moments of action are evenly spread throughout the book. Interspersed with that are different character explorations and of course, heart-stopping romance.
There are really two different plots occurring. On Rose's end, she is searching for secrets about Lissa's family that can secure Lissa's place on court and hopefully help understand why Queen Tatiana was murdered. Lissa, Christian, and Adrian are stalling for time to solve the Queen's murder. They do this by having Lissa run for queen. I loved how Lissa shined in this book. She started out the series as a quivering blond who hid behind Rose. Now she is a strong, independent girl that people can trust, can depend upon. Stronger, in many ways, than Rose.
All in all, Last Sacrifice is a terrific end to a terrific series. It's a fun ride with ups and downs all throughout. Best of all, it ends appropriately - not saccharine sweet, yet you feel satisfied. I can't wait for Bloodlines!
Rating: 4.5 / 5