Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Review: Frostbite (Vampire Academy #2)

When love and jealousy collide on the slopes, winter break turns deadly...

Frostbite, by Richelle Mead, is the second novel in the Vampire Academy series. Lissa has a new boyfriend, Christian, whom she spends more time with at St. Vladimir's Academy, a boarding school located in isolated Montana away from human civilization. She finds herself in an intriguing love triangle with Dimitri and Mason. She loves sexy Dimitri, but he has his eyes set for Tasha, a royal Moroi (mortal vampire) who may need a guardian in the near future. Mason has a huge crush and would die to be with Rose, but she doesn't share the same feelings for him. If things could get more difficult, Rose keeps getting stuck in Lissa's head when she makes love to Christian! She is next in line to become Lissa's guardian. (Lissa is a royal vampire from the Dragomir line.)

It is winter break at the Academy, but Rose feels neither festive or exhilarated. A massive Strigoi (rogue, evil vampires) attack has put the school campus on high alert. Senior dhampir guardians, including Rose's legendary mother, Janine Hathaway, have arrived to strategically plan their next move. The royal families and school officials are not taking any risks as the Strigoi have human accomplices to carry out their work. The school has its annual holiday ski trip in Idaho, and attendance is mandatory. The resort is posh, luxurious and radiant but it only creates the illusion of safety. When three of Rose's friends run away to chase after the Strigoi, Christian joins her to rescue them before it's ultimately too late. In the end, even her heroism as a future guardian has a deadly price.

I really loved the second novel. When I finished the book, I witnessed a new Rose Hathaway who overcome grief and death become more mature and controlled with herself. She killed two Strigoi and earned her first tattoos, which is rare for a student still in training. I watched Rose transform from an emotional popular troublemaker to a serious sword-swinging guardian! The pacing and plot development was excellent with the many twists and surprises. Rose is a funny and brave character that I have grown to love. I loved the scene where she finally opens up to her mother in the end after the Strigoi attack. Rose blamed her mother for so many things that went wrong in her life and finally got the mother-daughter comfort she always desired. More importantly, Rose finally learns her mother loves her dearly and wanted what was best for her -- a stable school environment around mentors and a quality education in preparation for royal guardianship. (Some dhampir women choose to give up guardianship to raise dhampir children.)

The question for now is what lies ahead for Rose Hathaway as she completes her senior year at the Academy. She has witnessed so many things that her peers typically don't even imagine. Readers will learn that Lissa is not the only Moroi vampire who did not specialize in an element. The novel will continue to explore the origins and abilities of "spirit" users. Mead does such an excellent job of portraying the complexities of vampire society and identifying Rose's struggles with her upbringing and those in her circle of companions. I highly recommend this series for teens and young adults.

Stay tuned for the third book in the Vampire Academy series, Shadow Kiss.

(Note: The third book is due out in November 2008.)

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