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Blood Promise by Richelle Mead

I know, I know. There's been a huge gap between my reviews of the first three Vampire Academy books and this review of the fourth one. All I can say is it's been insane this month with the holidays and the Cybils reading, my little boy's birthday, and my anniversary, etc. On the bright side, it has all combined to give my thoughts time to percolate somewhat on Blood Promise. I had been warned in advance that, give my reactions to the first three books, this one might not be my favorite. At the same time others encouraged me with the promise of a measurably higher Adrian quotient in this installment, which might well factor into shoving the Siberian chunkmeister that is this book to the forefront of the series. Either way I was very interested to find out just how Rose handled the fallout from the painfully messy end of Shadow Kiss.
A WARNING: beyond this point lie unavoidable spoilers for the series. Proceed at your peril.

Rose is leaving St. Vlad's once again, this time on her own and possibly for good. Against everyone's wishes, she leaves her best friend and charge Lissa behind and heads for Siberia, where she is certain Dimitri would have gone after becoming Strigoi. Once there Rose manages to infiltrate the local dhampir culture and relentlessly hunts for someone to direct her to the home and family Dimitri described to her in such loving detail. Eventually she succeeds and is forced to meet his family and explain to mother and sisters just what happened to their beloved son and Guardian. Meanwhile, back home, Lissa and crew are failing rather spectacularly to cope with life without Rose and post-attack. Lissa and Christian are on the outs, there are a couple of interesting new characters in town, and Adrian is the only one who seems to grasp what is happening. He appears in dreams to Rose, urging her to tell him where she is and to impress upon her the importance that she not throw away her life and that she return as soon as possible. Everything, of course, changes when Rose finally encounters Dimitri once more...

So there were some ups and downs with this one. I missed St. Vlad's. I really did. I like the school, I like the world Richelle Mead has created there, and the majority of this book took place on the frozen planes of the Middle of Nowhere, Russia. Since I am no longer a Rose/Dimitri fan, it was not a fun process watching Rose relive all their precious moments together in the presence of his family and mourn for what seemed like endless pages the loss of the love of her life. Honestly, Dimitri sort of fell out of my head with surprising rapidity what with being absent for so much of the book and then present in his evil Angel Strigoi form. I looked forward to every scene in which Rose psychically eavesdropped on her comrades back home and her dreammeets with Adrian most of all. Call me crazy, but the dude gets more interesting with each passing page and, for the life of me, I can't understand the undying Dimitri lovetorch everyone seems to be carrying. Along those same lines, why must they all persist in being so oblivious? These are smart kids. Sure, they're blinded by love and daily scrapes with death and dismemberment, but I would think by now they'd have learned to trust each other a little bit more than they do. Most of all I was bothered by a particular turn Rose's character takes in the latter half of the book. I mean it rubbed me so wrong I was livid. And, though I feel things ended on a strong note (minus one annoyingly predictable twist at the very end), I hated seeing Rose that way. Perhaps I'm merely too impatient and things will progress more apace in the next installment. My anger on her behalf does seem to indicate I'm on her side. We shall see.

Comments

  1. I was really disapointed with Blood Promise. I agree with you on most of the things you said...hopefully the next will be better.

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  2. I just finished Frost Bite I'm interested to see how I feel when I'm done with all the books.

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  3. Angie - I am so with you on the Dimitri aspect, I just want him to die permanently so Rose can be with Adrian. I think the latter is the most interesting in the VA'verse though I suspect that everything will work out in the end with Adrian all by his lonesome. In hearing Richelle talk about her inspiration for Adrian I was not surprised that I adored him.

    Great review.

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  4. I really liked the other books in this series, but I just have no desire to read this one. I think I am burned out on the whole teenage girl obessed with the love of her life thing. Maybe next year, which is this weekend! Holy Crow!

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  5. Dannie, isn't it interesting how we're still going to read the next one? I was kind of expecting to feel this way about this one. I'm hoping the next will surprise me.

    Caitlin, I'll be interested to hear as well. So far you're liking them?

    Adele, thanks! Dimitri just needs to die. So dead. It's definitely what the series and a strong protag like Rose needs. You're making me nervous though with what you've heard her say...sigh.

    Tosh, lol. It's crazy, isn't it? And I know what you mean. Unless it's spectacularly done it's getting a bit tired. Rose needs to slay her lover and get on with her life. That would get a round of applause from this reader for sure.

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  6. Wow. Tiah. Not Tosh!

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  7. I've always been team Adrian, but I gotta say out of all the books Frostbite so far has been my fav.

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  8. Anonymous1:28 PM

    I wondered how you'd feel about this one. Like you, I missed the school a lot. I missed Rose's interactions with Adrian, Lissa, Christian, guardian Dimitri and others on campus.

    Warning to readers: Kind of spoilery content in my response to Angie's review.

    I think/hope I know what you mean when you say Rose's character takes a turn in the latter half of the book that bothered you. We probably feel the same way about that turn. The scenes between Rose and Dimitri in Russia tortured me. While I was reading the book, I kept wishing I had a blog so I could review it (with spoilers) and express my outrage. Unfortunately, I don't remember exactly why I was outraged, I just remember that I was. Rose just wasn't Rose (though I guess that was the point).

    However I was pleased by the predictable twist at the end. Well, there are two predictable twists, I think. I knew they were both coming and didn't mind either one. If you mean the one I think you mean, here's the reason I didn't mind it: Though I lean more toward Adrian as a love interest for Rose, I want angst before they get there...and I still have a soft spot for Dimitri. After Blood Promise I don't think I could ever root for him again.

    Having spoiled myself a bit for her adult series (I wasn't wild about the first books in either series but remain curious about the characters), it seems Mead isn't afraid to displease certain readers so there may be more hope for Adrian than we think.

    Karen

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  9. Karen-
    I hope you are right. My friend was a big Dimitri fan, but has now turned towards Adrian. We both have the same theory of how this is going to play out and really hope Mead twists this to not be so predictable. I know most of her fans do love Dimitri, but your 2 cents gives me hope.

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  10. Ummmm....Spoilers ahead...

    I actually really liked the section where Rose became addicted to Dimitri's bites. It was horrible, and very painful to see Rose like that, but I think it's important that Rose - and all of us - confront the fact that there are some things you can't fight, only avoid. I think that's the strength of Mead's writing in this series, the hard reality of consequences.

    What really bugged me was the conclusion. Kill Dimitri or don't kill him. I don't like the cheap loophole, I don't like a book that leads up to an event that somehow turns out to be a fake, and I don't like the idea of endlessly dragging out Rose's painful, tragic relationship with Dimitri.

    I was a huge Dimitri fan when he was a good guy - I liked his steadiness and sincerity, in contrast to Adrian - but I agree that Strigoi Dimitri is no good, and the best thing Rose can do for herself and him is kill him as soon as possible. Blood Promise prepared me to accept his death, it wasn't easy, and now I'm just mad.

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  11. I agree with the review and what others have said...I myself started it, got bored, and skipped to the back and was not surprised at what I found...I could see it coming a mile away....I'm glad to know I am not alone in my feelings. As I will read the next book..I am hoping it goes uphill and not more downhill....

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  12. Princess Allie, FROSTBITE is definitely my favorite as well. The first two are the strongest. Wish we'd get a return to that form with book 5.

    Karen, that's exactly how I felt. Outraged. That shouldn't have happened. It lessened Rose for me. And I already had a rather tenuous relationship with her. Although, like I said, it made me incredibly angry on her behalf. But I wanted her to be angry with him as well. Furious, even. Enough to slay his slimy butt. Grrr. The fact that she succumbed to that and then is still pining for him...it drives me crazy! She didn't come out stronger. She came out the same.

    I agree with you on the angst. Bring it on! I would just prefer it in the form of her falling for Adrian but resisting, worrying about moving on after Dimitri, Adrian not sure of how deep her feelings are, etc. But right now she just keeps mouthing promises to him but not engaging emotionally at all. She needs to engage for the angst to be real for me.

    I really hope you're right on the being willing to displease her readers. Let's have a real conclusion, not some pseudo-BREAKING DAWN crap.

    Princess Allie, maybe if we all send out Team Adrian thoughts out there into the ether it will have some influence for good. ;)

    Erin, good points. That's certainly true. And I'm all for characters having to learn the hard way sometimes. But for me, this instance didn't feel necessary. I felt like it damaged Rose's character at a vulnerable point more than it strengthened it. If she'd murdered the scum after with one clean thrust I would have felt better maybe. As it was, it was sickening to me. But that's just me, of course. Always wanting what I can't have. But like you, the ending felt like such a cheat to me. Rose deserves to be a little more bad-A than she's getting right now.

    Rosey, I was skimming after awhile as well. Clearly a lot of us were dissatisfied with this installment (it was not subtle) but remain hopeful for the next. That's something at least. I hope things start to pick up.

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  13. I finished them and I think I'm on basically the same page with everyone. I am full on Adrian I was by the second book. I was beyond annoyed while Rose was locked up at the Strigoi house. Dimitri totally does remind me of Angel from Buffy The Vampire Slayer. Plus I don't understand why Christian couldn't just light his butt on fire.

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  14. I lean more toward Adrian as a love interest for Rose, I want angst before they get there

    Work from home India

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  15. Caitlin, LOL. That is now my favorite comment on the series, period. "I don't understand why Christian couldn't just light his butt on fire." If only...

    kanishk, yep. Bring on Adrian with a side of angst, pleasethanks.

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