I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.The Ruby Circle by Richelle Mead
Series: Bloodlines #6
Published by Razorbill Books on February 10th 2015
Genres: Paranormal Romance, Young Adult
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The epic conclusion to Richelle Mead's New York Times bestselling Bloodlines series is finally here...
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.
After their secret romance is exposed, Sydney and Adrian find themselves facing the wrath of both the Alchemists and the Moroi in this electrifying conclusion to Richelle Mead’s New York Times bestselling Bloodlines series. When the life of someone they both love is put on the line, Sydney risks everything to hunt down a deadly former nemesis. Meanwhile, Adrian becomes enmeshed in a puzzle that could hold the key to a shocking secret about spirit magic, a secret that could shake the entire Moroi world.
There are two ways you can look at The Ruby Circle.
If you love these books and you’ve been able to pause the series and go back to it without it losing its magic and really you just want more Sydney and Adrian, then congratulations! You are most likely going to enjoy this book.
It features callbacks to earlier parts of the series as well as extended cameos from certain favs from the Vampire Academy books (*cough* Rose and Dimitri *cough*) (that was probably a spoiler) (oh well) as well as assorted adventures and wacky shenanigans.
If all of these things sound right up your alley and you’re good at turning off your brain, not looking too hard at the plot and enjoying the ride, I think you’ll be greatly pleased and you can skip the rest of this review to go look at pictures of cake and unicorns and other magical, happy things.
(seriously, you may want to turn back)
(I don’t want to ruin it for you)
(alright, if you’re sure)
(you were warned)
If you’re like me and read all the Vampire Academy and previous Bloodlines books in one intense, hazy, week-long binge and the wait for The Ruby Circle has been just long enough for the magic to wear off, you may run into problems. Specifically, this book is on drugs. Like, so many drugs. More drugs than the entire attendance of Burning Man combined. I’m honestly surprised I didn’t get some kind of bizarre contact high just from holding it.
By far, the my biggest issue was the plot. Remember how The Dark Knight Rises felt kind of like Chris Nolan went into with an ‘I ONLY HAVE ONE MOVIE LEFT SO I’M GOING TO MAKE IT COUNT BY PUTTING FIVE MOVIES WORTH OF PLOT INTO IT’ kind of attitude? (No? Just me?) Well, The Ruby Circle had the same sort of feeling.
To give you an idea of what I’m talking about, in the space of two or three (short) chapters, approximately seven things happened right after another that could have been major events on their own but combined left all of them feeling half assed and kind of glossed over. View Spoiler » A sort of hilarious example was this whole thing where they figured out that Adrian’s uncle was Dimitri’s dad but then it was lol, I guess we’re cousins, let’s never talk about it again (no, seriously, it’s never brought up again). « Hide Spoiler Before I’d even made it to the halfway point, the main plot had shifted focus twice an was gearing up to switch back to the original plot (it did and then picked up a hitchhiker along the way). There was a pointless subplot that seemed like it only existed to give Adrian something to do when he couldn’t be with Sydney for reasons that felt a lot like unnecessary dramatic tension.
Basically, too many things happened, giving me massive plot fatigue, only to pile even more stuff on top. A representative from every previous book in the series made an awkwardly-shoehorned-in come back and by the time I got to the end, it all seemed incredibly anticlimactic. Too much stuff had already gone down, nothing felt like it had any significance and I’d lost all sense of reason.
I even had problems with the ship. Don’t get me wrong, I adore Sydney and Adrian and they’ve always been incredibly cheesy but in a way that somehow worked for me. Not so much this time. I put a lot of it down to Richelle Mead’s writing style, it’s never been my favorite though I’ve always been able to get over it but this time I spent a lot of pages gritting my teeth especially pages where Sydney and Adrian got their heart-eyes on. Instead of sweeping me away with emotion, their scenes struck me as either stilted and awkward or over the top dramatic. My other problem was with how they dealt with (or more accurately, didn’t deal with) their relationship issues. They both spent a lot of time separately raising concerns about the future of their relationship and they never took the time to talk about them and work it out (to be fair, how could they with so much plot happening?) and it bugged me. Functioning relationships require open communication kids, you can’t just avoid your problems and hope they go away. Trust me, I’ve tried this.
I was also not a fan of how the book handled mental health and PTSD. I felt like they were approached with all of the care and delicacy of smashing things with a sledgehammer. The issues seemed to be picked up and dropped as the plot demanded with no weight behind them and left me with a vaguely squicky taste in my mouth.
And then there’s the end. I can’t talk about it without some incredibly spoilery ranting so DO NOT click the tag unless you want to know how the book ends. You have been warned View Spoiler » Oh god, where do I even start. It turns out, the other point of Adrian’s boring-ass subplot is to set up circumstances in which he would charged with taking care of a newborn baby for awhile (cue a slow, creeping dread on my part). Sure enough, when Adrian tracks down the other viable parent, he can’t take the baby due to some incredibly shoddy reasoning and leaves the baby to Adrian and Sydney, two nineteen year olds he doesn’t know very well, (tada! my dread was justified!) and the book ends with the two of them throwing a dinner party, raising their brand new tiny human and I’m typing this sentence and still can’t quite believe that happened. Leaving aside the whole THEY ARE NINETEEN AND FOUR CHAPTERS AGO THEY HAD NO IDEA WHAT THEIR LIFE TOGETHER WOULD EVEN LOOK LIKE AND NOW HELLO SUBURBIA issues I have with it all, it was possibly the most random, implausible, corny ending imaginable. I cringed so hard I think I crunched a spinal disc. It’s not so much that I had an issue with the whole young parents thing (although that storyline tends to not be my fav), it’s more that one of Sydney and Adrian’s running issues throughout the book was what was going to happen to them after they found Jill? Where were they going to live? What were they going to do? Would they live among humans or Moroi? How would their lives work at all? Then, instead of actually sitting down and talking about it like a functioning couple, the plot handed them a baby like THIS IS YOUR LIFE and they were like we surrender, the plot is our master now. Fast forward a year, here’s a sappy internal monologue about how perfect life is and aren’t babies a neat substitute for working through your issues? The end. Like I said, this book is on drugs, really wacky drugs. « Hide Spoiler
Tl;dr: everything falls conveniently into place (it pretty much has to, too many things happen to spend more than the bare minimum word count on each event without the book veering into George R. R. Martin length territory) and very little makes all that much sense. Don’t get me wrong, The Ruby Circle is still fun to read and the adorable details that sucked me into this
ship series in the first place are still there (could’ve used more Hopper though), but if you can’t turn your brain off and relax, it’s a hot mess.