Friday, December 13, 2013

Book Review: The Fiery Heart (Bloodlines #4)

Release Date: November 19, 2013
Author: Richelle Mead
Publisher: Razorbill
Length: 438 pages

In The Indigo Spell, Sydney was torn between the Alchemist way of life and what her heart and gut were telling her to do. And in one breathtaking moment that Richelle Mead fans will never forget, she made a decision that shocked even her. . . .

But the struggle isn't over for Sydney. As she navigates the aftermath of her life-changing decision, she still finds herself pulled in too many directions at once. Her sister Zoe has arrived, and while Sydney longs to grow closer to her, there's still so much she must keep secret. Working with Marcus has changed the way she views the Alchemists, and Sydney must tread a careful path as she harnesses her profound magical ability to undermine the way of life she was raised to defend. Consumed by passion and vengeance, Sydney struggles to keep her secret life under wraps as the threat of exposure—and re-education—looms larger than ever.

Pulses will race throughout this thrilling fourth installment in the New York Times bestselling Bloodlines series, where no secret is safe.


Protagonists: While Sydney's prejudices about vampires have practically disappeared, she still has some developments to make over the remainder of this series. With this installment there's more of a focus on her family and her relationships with them. Now that Zoe's an active and fairly major player in the plot, we really get to see how she and Sydney interact and try and find a common ground. While we saw some of Sydney's family drama in the series opener, Bloodlines, I really enjoyed seeing how she handles herself around her sister and what she's willing to do to protect her. In addition to dealing with her family, Sydney's also doing whatever she can to help Marcus and his band of rebels, which leads her back to a bit of magic. While her development isn't hinged on her use of magic, it does play a vital role in two very major discoveries for this world. Adrian's development comes from his addiction, not only to alcohol, but to Spirit as well. While I totally admire Adrian's impulses to help others, I'm in agreement with Sydney that it's not worth him losing his mind, or worse his life over. I appreciated seeing his battle with Spirit and seeing what he, and other Spirit users such as Lissa, have to go through to use their potentially self-harming talent. Adrian also plays a very key role in a monumental discovery that could potentially save his race, but what was required of him to make that discovery could also lead to his undoing.

Romance: Fairly early on in the story Sydney compares the lives of her and her friends to that of Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream, and as always she is fairly on point. I find the romance between Adrian and Sydney just wonderfully written, in this installment it comes to a sort of dating stage, though with Zoe's ever watchful eye there's not much actual dating going on. This was a great thing to see, especially with the dual POVs, because we can actually see the relationship develop from both sides as they work and fight to be together. I'm really interested to see where this forbidden love will go. With Rose and Dimitri all they had to do to get rid of the forbidden part was for Rose to turn 18 and graduate, Sydney and Adrian not only have to survive the prejudices and control of the Alchemists, but also the expectations of the vampire community While their romance was the star of the show the supporting characters also got their own romantic developments including a love... well hexagon I guess. It was fun watching them on the sidelines working through their own love troubles and still ending up in much better situations than the ill-fated "Sydrian" might.

World-Building: With the addition of Adrian as a narrator there's a whole new depth and perspective added to this world. For the first time we get a real look inside of a Moroi's head, and not just any Moroi, a Moroi with an affinity for Spirit. While there's always been a general understanding of how Spirit affects it's user, the depths of that near insanity weren't really revealed until now. In addition to seeing new things, old characters make a return as we finally get some interaction from Lissa and a scene or two with Christian, usually in the Adrian chapters, and we get to check in with Rose and Dimitri. It was great seeing these characters again, and even better seeing them from Adrian's point of view. While we don't learn too much more about the Alchemists, and witch business is kept rather small in the grand scheme of things, we do see and learn a bit more about Marcus's special Indigo ink and how it's able to withstand and repel an Achemist's lily compulsion.

Predictability: I was rather shocked at how I was unable to predict most of what went on during this book. Usually Richelle lays down foreshadowing like there's no tomorrow and, in Marcus's words, leaves a trail of breadcrumbs to fairly easily predict what will happen and what revelations will be discovered later on in the story. However, this time not only was it hard for me to predict what would come next, but I picked up on some false, at least for this installment, foreshadowing that I thought would contribute to the cliffhanger. I must say I'm really surprised at this turnaround and while I do miss how easy the previous books were to predict, I did enjoy a fairly unpredictable installment in this series.

Ending: The ending, or should I say the cliffhanger, of this installment actually surprised me. While I had sort of guessed how the book would end, I would have guessed it would end two chapters earlier than it did. Much like Shadow Kiss, this book ends with an insane cliffhanger, however it doesn't end at a very high and shocking point of the book, in fact it goes beyond that point to really numb the shock of it. That's what surprised me though, I was expecting it to end with a lot of shock, but instead it was curbed and while it's eight months until the next installment releases, I'm not overcome with the need to read the next installment right away. Would I if I could? Of course, who wouldn't, but since I can't I don't see myself agonizing until the end of July.


While I stand by my rating of 5 stars, this wasn't my favorite in the series so far, in fact that title still remains with The Indigo Spell. That being said though, there was a lot about this I really loved, Adrian's POV, the forbidden romance and sneaking around, and even Zoe as a larger part of the story, aggravating as she was. But still there was something missing from this installment that dimmed it compared to a couple of the previous installments.


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