Book Reviews

Review: “Shadow Kiss,” Richelle Mead

July 14, 2013
Review: “Shadow Kiss,” Richelle MeadShadow Kissby Richelle Mead
Series: Vampire Academy #3
Published by Razorbill on November, 2008
Genres: Vampires
Pages: 443

It’s springtime at St. Vladimir’s Academy, and Rose Hathaway is this close to graduation. Since making her first Strigoi kills, Rose hasn’t been feeling quite right. She’s having dark thoughts, behaving erratically, and worst of all… might be seeing ghosts.

As Rose questions her sanity, new complications arise. Lissa has begun experimenting with her magic once more, their enemy Victor Dashkov might be set free, and Rose’s forbidden relationship with Dimitri is starting to heat up again. But when a deadly threat no one saw coming changes their entire world, Rose must put her own life on the line – and choose between the two people she loves most.

I’m finding it quite hard to differentiate between each Vampire Academy novel as I see to be reading through the series at warp-speed, but I think it’s safe to say that Shadow Kiss has been my favourite out of the three I’ve read so far. It’s not utterly breathtaking or standout spectacular, but I found the last quarter of the book to be the most engaging piece of Vampire Academy in the series.

Rose is as predictable as always. Despite each character commenting on how much she’s changed, I don’t think she has much. Sure, she’s killed a few Strigoi and learnt to bite her tongue a little harder but when it comes to seeing the big picture and being one step ahead of the reader, her wits haven’t improved much. One scene stands out in particular; when Rose is talking over her alleged affair with Adrian with the Moroi Queen, Tatiana. Rose is utterly baffled as to who this ‘Ibraham’ man the queen is talking about is, and what could his relationship with her mother POSSIBLY be! I mean, are you serious, Rose?

I also caught on to what the mysterious burns and battle scars popping up all over Moroi could be attributed to long before Rose tacked on to anything awry. For someone with ultra-sharp senses and who needs to be on the ball 100% of the time, I was disappointed. I was hoping that in Shadow Kiss this may have changed, but I think it comes down to Richelle Mead thinking that her readers are a lot slower on the uptake than they really are.

That’s probably the main irk I have with this series. It’s just so predictable and follows all the usual patterns expected within the genre. I wish Rose would tone down the ‘badass’ attitude for just one minute to realise for all her witticism and ‘strength’, she could be doing a lot more for those around her and saving herself a lot of trouble by just telling the truth.

Be smart, Rose. These people are meant to be your friends. Carrying your problems around and keeping them secret only leads to more drama later down the line. This has happened in all three books now and you still haven’t learnt.

Rose should have told Lissa immediately about the Queen’s plans for her and Adrian. It may have stopped something terrible from happening way down the line and influenced decisions that will have to be made soon. She also needed to tell her what her use of magic was doing to her, as soon as she found out. All this business about ‘protecting Lissa’ from getting upset is ridiculous when lives are at stake.

I like to think of Shadow Kiss as the ‘Guardian Field Exercise/Viktor Dashkov Trial’ book of the series. These are the two key events that keep the story rolling.

Rose’s bond with Lissa also strengthens and through being ‘Shadow Kissed’, she begins seeing the ghosts of dead friends and enemies – including Mason.

I was also wrong in my previous review, about how it looked like Rose and Dimitri were finally making the decision to throw caution to the wind and live in the ‘now’ when it comes to their relationship. By the first few pages of Shadow Kiss, we find that the ending of Frostbite was a false alarm, and we’re back to the same old same old where the two are concerned.

Without giving too much away, a resolution is finally made in the end of Shadow Kiss, but of course it’s too good to be true and something terrible happens to shatter the dreams of both Dimitri and Rose.

I’m not sure I like where the next book is headed – Rose as a solo agent and away from Lissa and St. Vlads – but I’m hoping it will finally make her grow up and make some wiser choices down the line.

One thing I particularly enjoyed with this book, however, was the use of Moroi magic and how much more prominent the message of ‘fighting back’ has become. Christian and Rose made a pretty good team near the end of the book, and I’d love to see more Moroi-Dhampire fighting duos surface in future books.

The climactic fight in the caves was also a great end to the book, and it kept me reading until the last page was turned. I’d been waiting for so long for some ‘good’ action within the Vampire Academy books, and at least within this one I feel satisfied that I actually got it.

I’ll be moving on to Spirit Bound next, which I hope gets even better.

At this point, I’m still feeling that Richelle Mead’s Vampire Academy series could use a LOT of improvements in all areas, and falls victim to many cliches within the YA market, but it is engaging enough for me to want to continue on. I can, however, see myself becoming even more frustrated if things don’t pick up and improve.

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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