Shadow Kiss – Richelle Mead
This is the third book in the Vampire Academy series and is the thickest and plot-heaviest. Lots of plots and machinations and a trip to the Vampire Court. It also continued to be much more about Rose than the first book in the series, which is good since she is clearly the most interesting character (though the Chuck Bass-like Adrien is pretty engaging in this book). Her best friend and Vampire Royal, Lissa, (who she will be charged with protecting once they graduate) may turn out to be powerful and influential, but she’s pretty boring. The sexual tension with Dimitri is as fun as it was in the first book, though.
This series is doing a good job of writing distinct stories that fit in within a larger narrative. The big stuff, like teaching the Moroi to fight for themselves and changing the status of Dhampirs in society is all advancing, but at the end of each book, something has been resolved. And at the end of this book, everything has changed. I pre-ordered the fourth part from Amazon as soon as I was finished because I am that anxious to find out what happens next.
At the end of the last book, Rose proved herself to be as good of a fighter in reality as she believed herself to be at school. But she is also headstrong and immature and as a reader you can both understand why adults would try to restrain her but also trust her. This book is very good with the tension between her wanting to do things her way but then understanding that while she is right, there is a better way to do things than by herself. And when she’s right and has a plan, she’s listened to. And when she’s right, but sounds crazy because she’s saying a ghost told her to do it, the people who trust her the most listen to her once she gathers evidence that she’s not just crazy.
It also has the most mature examination of the power structures of the vampire world and when Rose begins to question her place in that world, it’s believable. And so are the consequences of that questioning.
Yeah, these books are kind of “trashy” but not as bad as their covers suggest (ugh, I hate the last two covers) and they’re ultimately really solid and engaging. I like it when my fun is skillfully and intellegently done.