'Spirit Bound': The 'Vampire Academy' Girls Get Political

Spirit BoundSome girls daydream of gorgeous vampires and werewolves fighting over who gets to protect them. Others imagine fighting their own battles, and if a gorgeous vampire or two wants to be at her side, that's just a special bonus. Still others would rather picture themselves wielding supernatural powers that could bring their enemies to their knees and protect their loved ones. Rose Hathaway and Lissa Dragomir fall into the latter two categories, of course, and throughout Richelle Mead's "Vampire Academy" series, it's been thrilling to watch their ass-kicking heroism. But in "Spirit Bound," the fifth and most recent novel, it's beginning to look like they're at last in over their heads.

Now that the two friends have graduated the academy, they should be at the top of their game. Rose (a half-vampire/half-human dhampir) passes her guardian test with flying colors, and she may even get to guard her royal best friend Lissa (a moroi vampire) when she goes off to college. But first, there's the small issue of her ex-lover/teacher Dimitri, who is now an undead Strigoi vampire hell-bent on killing her. And she's hell-bent on trying to bring him back to life using Lissa's special healing powers. Of course, to find out how to do that, she's first got to break their mortal enemy, Victor Dashkov, out of prison and convince him to talk to his crazy reclusive brother, the only other moroi who's ever brought a Strigoi back to life. Got all that? (If you don't, you probably haven't read the other books and this whole review is kind of useless. Come back here after you've done your proper homework.)

That whole mission, which requires a lot of spy work, hand-to-hand combat and trips to Alaska and Vegas, would probably be enough for one book. But we also have the complicated matters of: Rose's current boyfriend Adrian, who is amazingly OK with the fact that she's still hung up on her undead ex; Lissa's own ex-boyfriend issues; and all sorts of political intrigue with the moroi queen and differing opinions on how to protect their race from the Strigoi.

In the previous books, the heart-pounding action of Rose's life was always inter-cut with the Lissa's more cerebral, refined world. But now that both are living in the royal court, the action is more frequently bogged down in politics. "Spirit Bound" indeed. There are some good fights, but one almost wishes Rose would let Dimitri turn her Strigoi, because it would be way more fun to watch the two of them roam free in the world than sit in church and court hearings. (Not to mention that his threats on her life are super sexy, which, yes, is kind of troubling.)

But thankfully, a last-minute twist picks everything up again, placing Rose in an altogether different kind of danger. And it ends in such a cliffhanger, I've heard that some readers thought there were pages missing from their copy. So, yeah, I will be picking up book number six this August. 'Cause we all know it takes a lot more than a court full of disgruntled royals, or a couple of slow chapters, to keep Rose Hathaway down for long.

Have you read "Vampire Academy"? Share your own reviews here, and tell us what else you're reading this summer.