Book Reviews

Review: “Blood Promise,” Richelle Mead

July 14, 2013
Review: “Blood Promise,” Richelle MeadBlood Promiseby Richelle Mead
Series: Vampire Academy #4
Published by Razorbill on August, 2009
Genres: Urban Fantasy, Vampires
Pages: 503

Rose Hathaway’s life will never be the same.

The recent attack on St. Vladimir’s Academy devastated the entire Moroi world. Many are dead. And, for the few victims carried off by Strigoi, their fates are even worse. A rare tattoo now adorns Rose’s neck, a mark that says she’s killed far too many Strigoi to count. But only one victim matters . . . Dimitri Belikov. Rose must now choose one of two very different paths: honoring her life’s vow to protect Lissa—her best friend and the last surviving Dragomir princess—or, dropping out of the Academy to strike out on her own and hunt down the man she loves. She’ll have to go to the ends of the earth to find Dimitri and keep the promise he begged her to make. But the question is, when the time comes, will he want to be saved?

Now, with everything at stake—and worlds away from St. Vladimir’s and her unguarded, vulnerable, and newly rebellious best friend—can Rose find the strength to destroy Dimitri? Or, will she sacrifice herself for a chance at eternal love?

To be honest, I felt like this book both improved and brought down the Vampire Academy series thus far. One the one hand, I felt more connected to Rose and finally felt the smallest bit of compassion for her and – finally! – a link to her as a ‘real’ character, but on the other hand, a lot of Blood Promise was useless, slow and out of sorts with the rest of the series.

I find it baffling that Rose had time to take tours in Russia before getting down to the nitty gritty of locating Dimitri, who she’s on a quest to kill now that he’s Strigoi. The way this book starts is so choppy, too, and I find it hard to believe the book moved in one seamless narrative rather than crudely-sewn pieces of many different stories; Rose’s time frequenting Moroi bars for information, followed by her time with Sydney on the way to Baia, her stint living with Dimitri’s family, her reckless alliance with the Unpromised hunting Strigoi in Siberia’s largest city and then finally her period of captivity with Strigoi Dimitri himself.

Blood Promise didn’t flow smoothly at all, especially not with Rose’s visits into Lissa’s head and her memories with Dimitri pre-Blood Promise flooding the pages randomly. I kept thinking, if these memories were so fond and so integral to Dimitri’s character, why didn’t Richelle Mead write them in previous books? It’s sure as hell couldn’t have hurt to build up Rose and Dimitri’s relationship a little more with some of their more ‘quieter’ moments. I had a hard time believing these ‘flashbacks’ when I didn’t even experience them to begin with through the original story.

Another thing that sadly disappointed me with this book was the terrible portrayal of the Strigoi. When the series began I thought they would be a very interesting and merciless race of villains, but now I’m just left thinking – why are the Moroi so afraid of them? They’re only a little faster and stronger, and can be persuaded just as much as the next person. Richelle Mead has managed to wipe away what made the Strigoi so frightening in the first place. If Dimitri can feed on Rose without having to kill her, why are they so different from the Moroi? Sure, they’re crueller, but they aren’t these huge hard-to-kill demons Mead wants us to believe.

And the significance of killing Strigoi has kind of become lazy. How many has Rose killed now and nobody cares? In times past, a Strigoi kill was legendary and great care was made to ensure the person doing the killing received to molnija marks for doing just that. You think with so much emphasis on this act, people would actually keep score of how many kills they make and have to report it to someone. But, nope. The series has basically rendered the molnija mark thing useless after stepping it up so much. Why even bother counting a dhampirs marks if they’re not even tracked accordingly?

I felt that the time Rose spent with Dimitri has only made me dislike their relationship more and more. Dimitri never held much appeal for me, but at least there was some sort of glimmer there. Now? That’s been fully extinguished. I don’t understand how Rose can even think of him as the same man again, even after some miracle that could possibly ‘cure’ him. Dimitri obviously won’t return to normal, cured or not, after so many ‘bad’ memories living as a Strigoi.
The ending was a cop-out, too. I knew Rose would never be able to kill Dimitri, even if she tried and truly believed it. Why? Because writer’s hardly ever have the guts to kill off their leading man. I would probably have applauded Richelle Mead if she’d gone down this path, but I never held faith that she would.

Lots of readers adore Adrian, too, but to me he felt more like a prop in Blood Promise . I’ve never thought of his as an exactly ‘original’ love interest, he’s too broody and snarky and too much like other character’s I’ve read (only the others were written and executed better…) but it does sadden me to see him become less and less original and more like everyone else as this series progresses. I don’t see him with Rose – he loses everything about him that makes him unique when he’s with her in any romantic sense (as demonstrated by their last scene together) – and I don’t look forward to seeing how their unavoidable relationship plays out.

The only thing that DID surprise me with Blood Promise was the identity of Rose’s father. I don’t know what kept me off that scent – probably the ridiculousness of everything else going on – but it honestly did catch me off guard. This is one thing I’m interested in learning about more in the next book.

As for Lissa and Christian – they are, at this point, the only saving grace of this series when it comes to romantic relationships and I do hope they can patch things up. Lissa acted terribly in this book as a result from her friendship with fellow spirit-user, Avery, but I think it’s something she and Christian should be able to get around if given the time.

The Avery/Reed/Simon thing could have used some more work. I didn’t guess that Avery was a spirit user, exactly, but I knew she had been put there to manipulate Lissa into giving away Christian and possibly turning her back on Rose for good. I was disappointed that Rose couldn’t figure this out whenever she delved into Avery’s head. Once again, their magical bond confounds me, and even the ‘realness’ of their friendship. Richelle Mead, please make me believe it more!

I will say one thing – I’m glad Rose has made a pact to be honest with Lissa from now on. This is one thing that has irked me from day one. I only hope she can stick to her words and keep Lissa in the loop!

Despite all that was wrong with Blood Promise it was still mildly entertaining and I will continue to persevere with the series. I’m a strong believer in the simple fact that if a book can keep you turning pages, regardless of technicalities and character gripes, then it’s succeeded in doing it’s job.

Recommended to: Fans of the series will enjoy.

About Richelle Mead

Originally from Michigan, Richelle Mead now lives in Seattle, Washington where she works on her three series full-time. 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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