Series: Bloodlines #5
Published by Razorbill on July 29th, 2014
Pages: 380 pages
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Sydney Sage is an Alchemist, one of a group of humans who dabble in magic and serve to bridge the worlds of humans and vampires. They protect vampire secrets—and human lives.
In The Fiery Heart, Sydney risked everything to follow her gut, walking a dangerous line to keep her feelings hidden from the Alchemists.
Now in the aftermath of an event that ripped their world apart, Sydney and Adrian struggle to pick up the pieces and find their way back to each other. But first, they have to survive.
For Sydney, trapped and surrounded by adversaries, life becomes a daily struggle to hold on to her identity and the memories of those she loves. Meanwhile, Adrian clings to hope in the face of those who tell him Sydney is a lost cause, but the battle proves daunting as old demons and new temptations begin to seize hold of him. . . .
Their worst fears now a chilling reality, Sydney and Adrian face their darkest hour in this heart-pounding fifth installment in the New York Times bestselling Bloodlines series, where all bets are off.
!!!! was the only reaction I had when I finished Silver Shadows a few days ago. I’m still smiling about it, because Richelle Mead is in fine form in the fifth installment of her Bloodlines series, which features an engrossing story, well-written action scenes, swoony romance, and exciting–OH SO EXCITING–plot developments.
As the book begins, we find Sydney in captivity. The Alchemists don’t approve of her involvement with vampires, so they’ve taken her to a “re-education” center, where the methods of controlling the residents are so extreme that Adrian is unable to use spirit to contact her. Sydney’s state of mind, physical trauma, and the day-to-day workings of this awful environment are detailed in a convincing way, as are the quietly clever, methodical ways she works to stay mentally strong, and to help others.
One of the things I like best about this book is that it takes place away from the usual Palm Springs setting–I wasn’t a huge fan of Jill or the sit-around-and-wait-then-panic plot that was happening there, so the focus on Sydney and Adrian and the introduction of some new characters are welcome changes. You could also draw a distinct parallel between the Alchemist re-education center and real-life “de-gaying” camps, both in rigid philosophy and in disturbing techniques; while I wish the threads of that metaphorical plotline had been wrapped up with a little more time and poignancy, there’s no denying that there’s a lot of thought behind its inclusion, and there’s a subsequent added layer of urgency to the book as a result.
Sydney’s story arc is nothing short of remarkable. It’s no secret that I was relatively indifferent to her in the fifth Vampire Academy novel, and it took a long time for me to warm up to her in the first two Bloodlines books. But aside from the incomparable Rose Hathaway, I really do think that Sydney’s character arc has gone through the most development of all of Richelle Mead’s characters, adult or YA, and I like her more and more with each installment of the series. She’s become a serenely confident and thoughtful young woman and is more open to showing her heart, and instead of being told she’s bookish and smart, we’re just shown that now, in a way that makes her both relatable and appealing.
Adrian’s development continues to flourish and stall nearly in equal measure, but that’s true to the character we’ve come to know, and he’s definitely growing up and finding his own way. Ah, that charming rogue! He will never truly conform to convention, and I love him for that. I’m also really glad the author kept the dual POVs, because both of them are strong–and I love seeing Sydney through Adrian’s eyes, and vice versa. The Sydrian romance feels intimate and respectful and full of promise, even under difficult circumstances, and I’m really pleased and tickled by many of their scenes together. I’m not going to spoil the ending for you, but if you’re a fan of this series at all, you have to find this book and read it immediately–there are unexpected surprises in it that you’ll want to experience as soon as possible! View Spoiler » I think some readers might be concerned by this development, but I’m okay with this within the context of the story–and let’s face it, this kind of thing does happen in everyday life. It also helps that we’ve known Adrian for a long time (10 books! wow) and Sydney is so capable and mature for her age. Plus this direction also just really excited me, because was written in a way that felt tender and believeable and…right. « Hide Spoiler
In my opinion, this is the best book yet in the series. Since each Bloodlines book has gotten better and better, I can only imagine The Ruby Circle is going to have us dancing around with excitement next year.