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va6 Last Sacrifice (Vampire Academy #6) by Richelle Mead | Rating: ★★★★★

Sometimes the greatest tests of our strength are situations that don't seem so obviously dangerous. Sometimes surviving is the hardest thing of all.

It’s been a wild ride and latched itself carefully to my heart but in this sixth and final installment, Last Sacrifice, the much beloved Vampire Academy series has come to an end. Mead promises readers more romance, adventure and surprises are up her sleeves to fade this series out with a bang. And it comes as no surprise that she accomplishes this and more, all the while setting the stage for a spin-off novel.

We open with Rose Hathaway, our brilliant and badass narrator, hidden away in jail at court for a treasonous crime she has been accused of: murdering the queen.

All signs point all too clearly to her and so a great many have turned against her. She has been framed and the real killer is still out there; the evidence is strong against her, our girl is innocent, and it’s devastating seeing how quickly people were to believe the worst.

With her life on the line, and ready to clear her name, Rose’s future seems grim and almost hopeless. But with a surprising amount of help from Abe and her friends and boyfriend, she is able to bust out of jail and go into hiding with Dimitri and Sydney, while the others stay busy in court to prove her innocence.

Parting with Adrian and Lissa is hard on our girl but so, so necessary. At least she has Sydney Sage, the standoffish alchemist she befriended a couple of books back, and Dimitri, who is cold but slowly returning back to himself. With a race against the clock, this unlikely group work to stay hidden and do pretty damn well for themselves.

Things don’t always get pulled off as seamless as they all hope. Along the way they meet many obstacles and team up with some even more unlikely people in an effort to get answers and to find Lissa’s unknown half-sibling to secure Lissa’s rights to vote in court and maybe, just maybe, bring some life back to the dying Dragomir line.

But the closer they get to the truth, the more complications arise. Needless to say, there are many plot twists that leave readers breathless and anticipating more–including moments in which Lissa is reluctantly in the running to be the next queen.

We see a change of heart, however, as she grows to take this series of tests seriously and we can’t help but to see a great deal of growth and power in her that goes beyond what we had even imagined.

As for the traveling and staying hidden:

Rose feels a bit helpless and out of touch when she realizes how little she can do in hiding and her feelings are once more thrown into question as she is away from Adrian and close to Dimitri. Things don’t start off well for the two of them being alone together but eventually they connect in the same ways that they did in earlier books and it’s sweet, despite the fact that Rose has a boyfriend in Adrian.

There are various tasks in the subplots that Rose and Dimitri come about, beyond staying hidden and avoiding the law.

One: find Lissa’s half sibling.

Two: find Rose’s former teacher, and another spirit user, Ms. Karp. Only complication? Ms. Karp is now a Strigoi and well… you know what complications lay in that.

Three: find the identity of the true killer.

Staying hidden isn’t easy and the group has several bumps in the road when it comes to living quarters. When their original plan of location is thwarted, they head out to a mysterious community in which dhampir, moroi and humans all live together, together. And that is only the begin.

Searching for Lissa’s half-sibling and for Ms. Karp, the only person who may be able to help them find the mysterious child, proves to be equal parts difficult and easy.

After they are able to stake Ms. Karp with a stake infused with spirit, by one of the Dashkov brothers, Dimitri helps the woman come to terms with her newly refound humanity and they are able to get some answers and hunt down the surprising sibling. I think Sonya Karp was an excellent addition to the series, and I really appreciated her scenes and how she fit right into the plot. She is very interesting.

Back on track...

As it turns out, Lissa’s half-sister is Jill: the quirky and sweet little rambling teenager we know as Jailbait from St. Vladimir’s. After this reveal, readers are left wondering what twists the story could possibly take now an if it is even possible for them to get answers.

Although they find her relatively quickly the reaction to being found is less than warm from her mother, who wants to keep Jill from such a dangerous life as a royal, the heat gets turned up once more when someone alerts the guardians to Rose’s location and they have to make a run for it.

The worst news? Jill has been taken by Rose’s enemy and they are forced to find her before it’s too late. Who knows what Victor is planning, after all.

Still, the pieces of everything fall together really quite well and lead us to an entertaining experience. We’ve got a great deal of mystery and of course, steamy romance by the hand of Dimitri and Rose reconnecting: for real this time. And then there’s the different levels of heartbreak.

Let me explain:

Adrian. Oh, Adrian. Honestly he is my favorite fictional male ever I think. Richelle Mead does a fantastic job portraying all the complexities of his characters but still having him remain upbeat and genuinely fun to read from. I loved him and Rose together and was sad to see the turn of events.

First, he lost his aunt. He struggles with this deeply and it is so obvious. His family life is kind of crap. And then he has to be apart from Rose and know that she is put in such an unfortunate situation. I feel like he learns so much in this novel and it’s just painful to watch.

While his storyline isn’t the most heartbreaking in the series, it’s still one of those “ugh, he just can’t catch a break, can he?” moments. Still, I think we see his strength more firmly this time around and his intelligence and caring nature.

Which is what was heartbreaking: knowing how much he cared for Rose only to get cheated on. Knowing that he lost a few things this time around. And then how he blames himself because he just knew that this outcome was a possibility from the start.

Ultimately, though, Rose is right in the fact that they aren’t meant for each other. And I only wish that things had been approached differently so the two would have had a sincere chance at being friends.

The other outcome that will break your hearts is finding out who the killer was, why they murdered the queen and placed the blame on Rose. I think the actions behind it were incredibly gross and immature and to take someone’s life is an awful turn of events. My jaw dropped to the floor when the identity of the killer was revealed because it effected so many people in the long run.

And if you haven’t read it yet, please look away now from spoilers. In the last quarter of the book it is revealed that Tasha Ozera was behind it all along. She also was behind a previous attack against Lissa (which was only meant to garner up sympathy for Lissa) and is the reason why Eddie’s record is now tainted (he was forced to kill the Moroi to save Lissa) and really it is all so wild and mind blowing.

It still makes sense. This revelation clears Rose’s name but also gives us one final twist. We see the pain it brings all of the characters knowing it was her all along (especially Christian, who is in denial at first about it) and she plays an innocent card very briefly before taking a hostage and threatening a lot of people.

Her mistake in doing this? She chose Mia as her hostage and we all know Mia will fight back and does. Still, it’s a dangerous scene that ends with Rose getting shot and her life put in hell once more. We do get resolution and something of a happy ending, thankfully.

Jill and Lissa meet as siblings and there’s the possibility of a tentative bond forming. Lissa is crowned queen but will be facing a lot of opposition due to her age. Christian struggles in the fact that the woman who raised him turned out to be someone he barely knew but is still said to have visited her during her time in jail. Adrian is heartbroken but I think there is a world of chances for him out there and we already know that he will be in the Bloodlines spin-off. And Rose and Dimitri are together at last.

I’m really so thankful that a lot of the main characters we grew to love are safe. Rose was badly injured but her will to live was so strong she survived. The only cost was losing her bond, somehow, to Lissa–still, their connection will never waver and didn’t depend on her being shadow-kissed.

There’s so much pain and joy in this final chapter. It’s worth the read, it’s worth the heartbreak, it’s worth so much and was a thoroughly engaging read. Impossible to put down and so vivid, much like Richelle’s other novels. I’m sad to see the characters go (although they aren’t really gone, as they will be featured in the spin-off here and there) but I couldn’t imagine a more fitting end.

Really, though, I’m still out of breath from this series. It’s so addictive and fun. I’m so glad I gave it a chance because it is now among my favorites. I tried to savor this one, as it is the final book from Rose’s POV, but it really was impossible to not eat it all up so fast.

My only complaint? (Well, besides how Adrian/Rose ended and the whole “this series is ending” thing.) That there wasn’t enough interactions between the darling father-daughter duo that is Abe and Rose. I mean, c’mon, old man:

“Ah, my daughter,ʺ he said. ʺEighteen, and already youʹve been accused of murder, aided felons, and acquired a death count higher than most guardians will ever see.ʺ He paused. ʺI couldnʹt be prouder.”

(And let's show some appreciation for Abe and Janine teaming up on Dimitri. Imagine that discussion.)

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