Author: Richelle Mead (author website)
Release Date: December 7th 2010 by Penguin
Age Group: Young Adult
Does the name 'Last Sacrifice' scare you? Good. Be afraid. What an emotional rollercoaster. The Vampire Academy series draws to a close in Last Sacrifice, and its stunning conclusion has left me exhilarated, exhausted, heartbroken, overjoyed, satisfied and strangely bereft.
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?
Oh Boy. Where to Start? Where Else:Rose and Dimitri have crept into my heart, taken roots, and grown to become my favourite YA couple. The Vampire Academy series—delicious distractions aside (here’s looking at you, Ivashkov)—is clearly Rose and Dimka’s story, but it’s been one hell of a tough journey. We’ve all been waiting a long time for this book (well, in my case, a week), and we finally get to see the two work together again. Vampire Academy is at its best when the two are a team, and it’s wonderful to see them like this... but it’s not easy. Baggage doesn’t even come close to describing the load these two are carrying, and that burden increases as the book progresses.
Its spoken about a lot in this book, but Rose and Dimitri share a profound synchronicity. They are—quite literally—made for each other. The two resonate perfectly with each other, in pitch-perfect harmony, and, though it’s not easy for them, we finally get to see the two confront their recent history and the obstacles facing them. That being said, we’re talking about Richelle Mead. Don’t expect this to go smoothly... Hell, just abandon all expectations. And take it from Dimitri: Never drop your guard when Rose is around.
Rose:Boy has Rose grown. In the past I’ve commented on my admiration of Rose; her independence, spirit, bravery, determination and loyalty, and this has only grown. Rose still isn’t perfect—far from it—but she has grown into an extraordinary young woman. She is, without a doubt, my favourite YA heroine. Geez is Vampire Academy taking out a lot of favourites.
Lissa:Wow oh wow. If we’re going to talking about character growth, we need to discuss Lissa. As key to this series as Rose or Dimitri, Lissa started out as fragile, unstable, and, well, weak. In Last Sacrifice, she’s unrecognisable. Confident, clever, calm and collected, Lissa has grown to carry herself with a regal grace befitting her status. It is she who masterminds Rose’s jailbreak, and the story has come full circle with Lissa now defending Rose.
Lissa finds herself deeply enmeshed in the politics so central to the Vampire Academy series, and through this intrigue... she shines.
Dimka:Dimitri has a LOT to deal with in Last Sacrifice. He hasn’t forgiven himself for the terrible crimes he committed as Strigoi, and it’s heartbreaking watching him do so. But bit by bit we see the return of our favourite Zen Master, Baddass God. FINALLY. However—though this is the first time I’ve had an actual complaint in the entire series (other than: “I want more Dimitri! Now now now! FIX IT MS. MEAD! NOW!”)—I actually did have a complaint with Last Sacrifice (one in a whole series ain’t bad, though, right?).
After being returned to life by Lissa’s magic, Dimitri’s come to regard her with worshipful adoration... and it just grated with me. I get extreme gratitude, but it royally pissed me off that he could be so committed and adoring towards Lissa, yet treat Rose so coldly, regardless of the guilt or turmoil he was suffering. I expected this to be dealt with in Last Sacrifice, and while the topic is broached, it isn’t resolved. It’s even openly highlighted that his loyalties are torn, but not resolved in a way I found remotely satisfying. I don’t know why this was such a big deal for me, but I couldn’t get past it.
Happy Ending? Pfft:There was never going to be a happy ending for some of our favourite characters. In Last Sacrifice, hearts are broken, lives destroyed and futures left uncertain. I don’t know that I really expected any differently. Last Sacrifice ends on an intensely bittersweet note. Yes, we get a happily ever after—for now—but there’ll never be smooth sailing where Rose and her friends are concerned.
I still really want to see the "They come first" Dhampir mantra addressed, as I do the indocrination and—let's face it—brainwashing of Dhampir children. Whether either race can see it, the Moroi treat Dhampir's as a subserveant slave-race. It's one of the most disturbing and intriguing aspects of the series. Regardless of what they've been taught, Dhampir's don't need Moroi. It's entirely the other way round—Dhampirs could go off and live with humans, and not raise an eyebrow. Additionally, the issue of Spirit-induced madness still stands. Eventually, Lissa and Adrian will face this, and, as far as we know yet, there are no solutions. It seems clear this will be a key point in the Bloodlines series.
It’s part of Richelle Mead’s mad genius that she can end a book on the note she does, and do it so well. The conclusion is satisfying, but she has clearly left open ends with deliberate intent. If I didn’t know Bloodlines was on the way, I’d still be happy, but there is a whole series worth of loose-ends lying around.