It's been a loooooong minute since I've read a Vampire Academy novel. I never enjoyed Rose as a protagonist and that hampered my ability to get into tIt's been a loooooong minute since I've read a Vampire Academy novel. I never enjoyed Rose as a protagonist and that hampered my ability to get into the series, so I left it by the wayside 5 years ago and didn't look back. However, I recently saw a Booktuber mention the series, thought to myself "hey, I wonder how it all ended" - and now here we are. I realised I'd gotten deeper into the saga than I remembered, only having 2 books left to finish, so I figured I might as well put in the effort and find out what happened to old mates Rose and Dimitri!
I recall really loving the fourth book in the series - after struggling through three positively boring predecessors - and I'm happy to say that I really enjoyed Spirit Bound also! This novel follows Rose out of high school and into the Court, and her journey to find a way to cure Dimitri of being strigoi. Spoilery plot recap below:
(view spoiler)[Rose and co. break Victor Dashkov out of his Alaskan prison to learn that Lissa is the key to curing a strigoi. A strigoi can only be cured by imbuing a silver stake with spirit, and a spirit user must stake and channel healing power into the strigoi at the same time. TL;DR - after a series of events Lissa makes it happen and Dimitri is healed! The only drawback is now he doesn't want anything to do with Rose.
Rose causes a bunch of drama at Court (what's new?!) but it all backfires when she's named #1 suspect in the murder of Queen Tatiana. Rose is taken into custody, set to trial, and we suddenly have the premise of Book 6. Rose learns via a posthumous communique from Tatiana that she knew her murder was coming, and that Rose must find Lissa's illegitimate sibling and restore power to the Dragomir house in order to save herself.
This was just a really fun, adventure-packed addition to the series. It was a refreshing change to get out of St Vladimir's and into Court life, and I really enjoyed Rose's adventures across the US to try to cure Dimitri. I wondered how this series could possibly progress if Rose managed to cure Dimitri in this book, but Richelle Mead did a great job in setting up a mystery that had me hooked before this book even ended. Instead of the strigoi or Dimitri being the "big bad" once again in book 6, we're set up for a book full of political intrigue, high stakes mystery, and a villain among our own ranks!
When I picked this series up after a 5 year break I wondered if my feelings about the characters had changed. They have - but not in the way I'd expected. Rose was my primary reason for dumping the series so many years ago: she was billed as this kickass sassy heroine, but I found her to be immature, annoying, and I basically just wanted to smack her the whole time. Reading Spirit Bound in my mid-twenties, I find her a lot more entertaining and while there is still an immaturity to her, her sassiness now comes across as funny rather than petulant.
That being sad, there is zero chemistry between any of the characters. Dimitri is still boring as batshit in spite of having an epic storyline, Lissa and Christian have supposed unresolved sexual tension that reads as neither sexual nor particularly tense, and Rose and Adrian are no more exciting or charismatic than Rose and Dimitri (read: do you want plain white bread or plain white bread?) The characters are cute on their own and I love that they all have very different personalities, but none of them really work together.
Overall: This series was such a hard slog back in the day, but I was really pleasantly surprised by Spirit Bound! I am looking forward to picking up the next one and not just for closure, but because I really want to see what happens! I don't give a rats arse about the romantic pairings and their complete and utter lack of chemistry, but I want to see what happens to Rose, what happens at Court, and how the mystery unravels. I doubt I'll ever pick up the companion/spin-off series, but I'm not mad about picking up Last Sacrifice....more
**spoiler alert** Where Wool focused on Silo 18 and Shift focused largely on Silo 1 across the decades, Dust brings all our characters into play on on**spoiler alert** Where Wool focused on Silo 18 and Shift focused largely on Silo 1 across the decades, Dust brings all our characters into play on one big stage. We hear from Donald as he surreptitiously works to save Silo 18, whilst uncovering the real truth behind the silos and E-Day. We hear from Juliette as she digs her way to Silo 17 to save Jimmy and the kids, and ventures outside once again in the name of science! And we even get to hear from Donald’s sister Charlotte as she’s awoken from deep freeze and quickly brought up to speed on how they need to save the world.
If you want a TL;DR version of the plot, it’s basically as follows: - Donald surreptitiously works to save Silo 18 from being shut down - Donald kills Anna for how she manipulated events to pull him away from his wife Helen - Donald tries to kill Thurman and is eventually discovered and sentenced to execution - Juliette burrows to Silo 17 to save the kids - Silo 18 is gassed and Juliette and co. escape to Silo 17 - Donald sacrifices himself and bombs Silo 1 so Charlotte can escape - Juliette and Charlotte discover that all the lines from the silos on the map converge at one point called "Seed" - Juliette leads the survivors above ground in cleaning suits to Seed: a supply warehouse that provides refuge as they decide how to build a new life
The Siloverse has been full of plot twists so far, and Dust was no different! My mind was blown again and again as we learned the truth of the “argon” gas, as we learned more truth about the nature of the silos, and as we learned more about what those lines on the map really mean.
I’ve said it from the beginning - you think you know what the Siloverse is about, but you’re going to be wrong. I thought from the start that there was only one silo and that they’d venture above ground eventually to find that the air was perfectly breathable. I was wrong. Not only was I wrong - I would later find out that the silos were responsible for the quality of the air (both back then and now)!
Basically what I’m saying is that on the surface this seems like a by-the-book new adult dystopian that’s going to be a fun ride but ultimately unfurls exactly as you expect it to. Instead, the trilogy takes a fairly predictable premise and injects some subtleties and twists that make it a completely original story. The bad guys aren’t really the bad guys, the good guys aren’t really all that good, and these holes in the ground may or may not be preferable to the world outside.
The characters are so complex, nuanced, and real, and somehow manage to completely relatable and yet not at all like me. Juliette is suuuuch a strong, complex female hero: she’s a unique mix of rational and emotional, a mechanic who isn’t totally averse to love, and yet passes the Bechdel test so damn hard she deserves a medal. Then there’s Donald who is initially presented as the villain, only to go on and reveal himself as an unlikely anti-hero trying to repent for his sins. Then there’s Jimmy, a 16 year old boy figuratively locked in the body of a 50 year old man, who’s survived hardships that stress me out just thinking about them - I can’t fathom surviving a year alone, yet alone 34!
All that being said, I wish there was a follow-up novella for this series as I still have many unanswered questions about the Siloverse. Was Silo 1 supposed to escape alongside one other Silo on E-Day? Was Thurman even supposed to live to E-Day? Or would Thurman just die eventually knowing that one of his beloved silos would win and venture out into Elysium, with a strong chance that it might not even be Silo 1? And what are these damn criteria to determine who lives or dies?
And with Silo 1 destroyed, what will happen on E-Day? Will the silos ever unlock in the future? Would each silo get miracle instructions blaring throughout the building on where to find their digger and how to use it? And how on earth would a bunch of people like that survive, learning that their world is a sham and being thrust into a completely new one? And I NEED to know what life is like in the other major cities! Were the bad-nanos completely successful in eradicating human life? Or were there people who were lucky enough to have access to purpose-built shelters at the time, or who survived through sheer dumb luck?
One thing that’s always lacking in dystopian novels for me is the “after”: what happens after they escape their dystopian prison and bring down the powers-that-be. I want to see the difficulties the characters face in adapting to a life outside and how they begin to build a society from the ground up - often quite literally, as they’re usually stuck in the wilderness with only basic tools. I understand that the author spends soooo much time world-building the “prison” that it would be another monumental task to build the “outside”, but I want to see someone try. I don’t want a short nine years later “all was well” type epilogue, I want chapters chronicling their dark days as well as their light ones.
Overall: While Dust would have benefited significantly from a stronger and longer epilogue, it was nonetheless a mindbending conclusion to a series that was never quite as it seemed. Hugh Howey managed to seemlessly converge two storylines that had bifurcated and diverged across multiple points in time, bringing our heroes and villains onto the one stage - all the while being in completely different buildings! Twists and turns continued to abound, and each time I thought I had the Siloverse figured out, I was so damn wrong.
If you’ve grown tired of dystopian fiction, I urge you to give the Silo series a try. Maybe it’s the new-adult genre or maybe it’s simply Howey’s magnificent mind, but this is a fresh take on what could have easily been a tired and predictable story. The story is rife with plot twists that manage to be subtle and yet wildly unexpected, and we’re shown characters who are complex, nuanced, and relatable, in spite of bearing problems we can’t even begin to fathom. In an oversatured genre that often does the expected, Howey actually manages to do the unexpected. ...more