London: ‘Last Sacrifice,’ by Richelle Mead: In Richelle Mead`s ‘Last Sacrifice,’ the much-anticipated finale to her young adult Vampire Academy series, 18-year-old Rose Hathaway is facing the death penalty after being framed for the murder of Moroi vampire Queen Tatiana.
With the help of her friends and her estranged father, Abe, Rose breaks out of jail and goes on the run, leaving her boyfriend, Adrian, and her best friend, Lissa, to find the real killer while she hides out with her former lover Dimitri and an alchemist named Sydney.
In Mead`s supernatural world, there are two kinds of vampires: the Moroi, a relatively peaceful society possessing magical talents, and their mortal enemy, the evil Strigoi. Both kinds of vampires live mostly undetected among humans.
Rose is a guardian, trained to protect the Moroi from attacks by the Strigoi. The Strigoi have no magical abilities; their sole purpose is to kill.
Half-vampire Rose has been training to become a guardian for Lissa, the last known member of a royal Moroi bloodline.
In ‘Shadow Kiss,’ the third book in the series, Dimitri was turned into an evil Strigoi vampire during a battle. Rose and Lissa were able to reverse the change in the fifth book, "Spirit Bound," but Rose was denied a long-awaited reunion when Dimitri, haunted by the atrocities he had committed, rejected her, vowing to never love again.
Now, Rose, Dimitri and Sydney have set off on a never-ending road trip that was initially meant to evade capture but turns into a mission to locate Lissa`s newly discovered half-sibling. Along the way, they seek refuge within a primitive renegade Moroi community and team up with Victor Dashkov, an old enemy who only helps because it serves his needs.
In contrast to previous books in the series where battles against the Strigoi provided thrilling action, such battles have no significant role in ‘Last Sacrifice.’ Instead, Mead focuses on a convoluted murder mystery and a political election as candidates from all the royal bloodlines compete to be the new monarch.
‘Last Sacrifice’ has a few memorable moments — both tender and taut — between Rose and Dimitri. They battle when Rose tries to escape in an ill-considered plan to return to Lissa. Later, Rose comforts Dimitri when he becomes emotional after an encounter with a Strigoi — his first since his reversal.
Mead does little to build up the love triangle among Rose, Adrian and Dimitri. As a dream-walker, Adrian can invade people`s dreams. His interactions with Rose are primarily in this state and don`t last long, so her ultimate choice is not at all surprising. What is surprising, however, is the identity of Queen Tatiana`s killer.
Mead`s Vampire Academy series started out strong but peaked with the fourth book, ‘Blood Promise.’ Although the last installment is more fizzle than sizzle, "Last Sacrifice" manages to tie up loose ends while introducing new story lines for Mead`s upcoming young adult series featuring another character.