Note: This review contains spoilers.
I’ve been a fan of the Vampire Academy series ever since I was in high school, which was almost seven years ago. I loved the characters of this series, I loved the world that Mead had created – I loved many things about it. What I loved more than Vampire Academy was the Bloodlines spin-off.
The Ruby Circle is the final book of the Bloodlines series. For the weeks leading up to this book’s release, I was sad; sad that it would end soon. I loved Bloodlines, and I grew to love all the characters deeply. My favourite books of this series were The Indigo Spell and The Fiery Heart, and I plan to re-read these books in the near future.
I have to admit, and I admit this with regret, The Ruby Circle was my least favourite book of the Bloodlines series. The book had an entirely different feel to the previous books — and not in an entirely positive way.
In the previous books, the characters grow and develop with each installment of the series. Watching how they grew with each challenge, tribulation, success and failure was one of the most beautiful elements of the Bloodlines series. Witnessing Sydney’s growth was something that moved me as a reader – from black-and-white, rule-abiding alchemist to an individual who loved someone that she wasn’t meant to love so fiercely and relentlessly and saw a perspective that was completely different to the tenets she was brought up with. And no one could possibly forget Adrian’s character arc – from who he was in the Vampire Academy series to someone who came to care, empathize, and love someone so steadfastly that he changed, sacrificed, and grew as a person. To see both of these characters change and fall in love with each other is probably one of the highlights of my reading life.
It is Sydney and Adrian’s growth as lovers that held so much meaning for me. It is indisputably the best part about the series. I laughed and cried (and blushed!) with them. The gradual change between them was written so beautifully to the extent that typically corny moments did not feel strained or contrived, because readers of the series understood the implications and consequences for them to be together and stay together. It is because we know their history that make their love meaningful and emotional.
In The Ruby Circle, the characters evidently love each other, but the depth that we saw in the previous books is lacking. The best word I have to describe it is stagnant. Although many things happen in The Ruby Circle, the development of the characters and the plot felt suspended by Mead’s lack of direction in the narrative and character development. At times I felt that Mead had no idea what to do with the characters, so she reduced these complex, multifaceted characters to simplistic, shallow facades of who they were.
I felt that the characters lost their essence – what made them different from other characters in fiction, what made them feel alive and complex. Mead could have explored their relationship in another way, but she recycled motifs from the previous books. I know the effect Mead intended; ‘the circle will hold’ was incredible and powerful in The Fiery Heart (it made me whimper like a baby!). However, in The Ruby Circle it didn’t have the same affect on me; it was came off contrived and like cheap bait.
With all that said, there were some things to be appreciated in The Ruby Circle. Though the opinions of this subject is polarized, I really am intrigued with what happened with Olive (being intentionally vague here!). Mead didn’t develop this in The Ruby Circle – in fact, it was frustratingly vague and inconclusive – but because of the lack of depth and the room for exploration and development, I am hoping(!) that this implies the VA series is not over for good. Personally, I wouldn’t be against the idea. As much as I still love Sydney and Adrian, I think The Ruby Circle showed that there are no more adventures for them. To return to the VA universe through a new perspective and narrative voice would be an idea I could be on board with.
Despite my less-than-positive opinions of The Ruby Circle, it was still a satisfying conclusion (mostly thanks to the epilogue) to a really fantastic and fun series. Evidently I have qualms with the book, and as I am emotionally invested in this series it pains me to admit them. Nonetheless, I enjoyed it, and I am sad but at peace with the idea that I won’t read any more about Sydney and Adrian. Safe to say, this series will always have a place in my heart.
As a fan of the series, thank you Richelle Mead for writing such a wonderful, breathtaking series, and thank you for giving me something to look forward to for four years. It was a ride, and I am grateful to have been a part of it.
Book Name: The Ruby Circle
Book Series: Bloodlines #6
Author: Richelle Mead
Publisher: Penguin Books