Monday, 11 August 2014

Review - Silver Shadows by Richelle Mead

Silver Shadows (Bloodlines, #5)

Silver Shadows by Richelle Mead
Series: Bloodlines #5
Published by Razorbill on July 29 2014
Genres: Young Adult, Paranormal, Vampires
Pages: 380
Rating: 4.5/5 stars
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
I’ve never written a review of a Vampire Academy or Bloodlines book, and I’m not sure how to go about it because I’m so infatuated with this series and, moreover, this world in general. I suppose a good place to start is to confess that I walked around town for an hour and a half on a hot, sunny Wednesday afternoon (the day after the book was released!) searching for a copy of this book. I had to have in my hands. Immediately. I also paid far more than I should have for it ($21 plus tax! Ouch!), but it was totally worth it.

This is the only series that I drop everything for. I have to read the newest books the moment they are released and no later. I’m lucky that Mead produces books so quickly, otherwise I’m not sure my sanity could handle it.

Unlike most people I know, I actually prefer the Bloodlines series to its predecessor, the Vampire Academy series. Don’t get me wrong, I loved the Vampire Academy books. But there’s just something about Bloodlines that makes me absolutely elated. Richelle Mead’s books give me a high like no one else’s. Maybe it’s all of the Adrian. Maybe it’s how much I love Sydney. I’m a die-hard Sydrian fan in a way that I just never quite got behind Rose and Dimitri as a couple. I liked Rose and Dimitri, but I love Sydney and Adrian.

That said, I found this book a bit difficult to read at times. I spent most of the first half (or so) of the book wanting to smack Adrian upside the head and tell him to stop feeling sorry for himself. Sydney needed him and he wasn’t there for her because he was too busy drinking and partying all night long. He’d shown so much growth, and to see him regress to his old ways was painful. But not as painful as what Sydney was going through in re-education. I swear, that girl is the most strong, resilient young woman. It’s frightening how well she keeps it together. I’d have been utterly and completely broken by what she endures, but Sydney is far stronger than I could ever hope to be.

I think what I love most about Sydney Sage is just that: she is incredibly strong, but not in a psychical sense like Rose was. She possesses a mental fortitude beyond my wildest imaginings, and I truly respect her for that. She has so many things stacked up against her, but she never lets them break her. Yes, she has the odd moment of weakness, but she believes in her convictions with every fiber of her being and I think that’s amazing. I aspire to be more like Sydney Sage. It’s clear towards the end of the book that Sydney has been emotionally scarred by her experiences in re-education and possible PTSD is hinted at, and I think that Mead made an excellent choice by including that. Even someone like Sydney can’t escape that kind of torture without serious emotional baggage.

Depiction of mental illness in a paranormal series is something that I commend Mead for. It’s quite clear for anybody who has experience with it that Adrian suffers from bipolar disorder, not to mention Lissa’s depression throughout the Vampire Academy books. With the addition of Sydney’s potential PTSD, I’m really impressed. It’s all been handled so beautifully, and more importantly respectfully. I don’t think I’ve read any other books that have achieved such a complex look at the entanglement between psychic ability and mental illness in paranormal stories (I honestly can’t think of any paranormal books that even include mental illness in any capacity). I think that what Mead has done with these books and characters is brilliant.

There were a few things that I wasn’t incredibly fond of throughout the book, but on the whole it was a solid 4.5 stars. If you haven’t read the Bloodlines series, you’re missing out. Trust me. I’m not someone who enjoys books about vampires – I don’t even really like the paranormal genre in general nowadays, but I keep coming back to these books because they’re consistently well written, well-paced, and have excellent plots and characters. I really don’t want this series to end, and there’s only one book left! Maybe we’ll get a spin-off of the spin-off?? About Trey or Angeline or someone else? There are so many parts of the Vampire Academy world that have only been glimpsed so far. I’m not ready to leave.

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