A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
There are a lot fewer educational discussions in this book than in the early ones, but Sydney does discuss logic and poetry with Adrian, particularly the poems of Shakespeare, Yeats, Morris, and others.
The Bloodlines series continues to offer messages about fighting discrimination, questioning authority, overcoming prejudice for the sake of love, and not allowing superficial differences to affect your friendships. Sydney and Adrian's story line reveals how a couple in love must be willing to overcome challenges to stay together.
Positive Role Models
Sydney is intelligent, responsible, and selfless. She approaches every decision -- even when to have sex -- with a sense of maturity and responsibility, not just instinct. Adrian is protective, supportive, and willing to let Sydney take the lead in their relationship's progression. The guardians and vampire royalty in The Fiery Heart all act out of duty, loyalty, and friendship.
Violence & Scariness
There's less violence in this installment than in the first two, but there's a confrontation between a vampire and guardians as well as an ambush that injures a character and ends up trapping another. A character is so depleted after helping someone else that he turns to drink and acts impulsively.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Now that Sydney and Adrian are fully together, there's a lot of discussion about sex, and eventually it happens. Although none of the scenes is overly graphic with anatomical details, there are several mentions in the last quarter of the book about their sex life, including mentions of birth control (she goes on the pill long before they have sex), nakedness, her loss of virginity, his previous sexual relationships, the location of their sexual activity (the backseat of a car, a hotel, his apartment), and the way that mature romantic couples incorporate sex into their relationships.
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Infrequent use of words such as "s--t," "a--hole," "bitch," "goddamned," and "bulls--t."
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Products & Purchases
Sydney mentions that her destroyed Subaru Outback has been replaced with a silver Mazda SUV crossover, the CX-9.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Sydney stays away from alcohol, but Adrian falls off the wagon and gets incredibly drunk one night, and he drinks on several other occasions. He eventually goes on prescription drugs to ward off the manic effects of spirit on his personality and behavior.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that The Fiery Heart is the fifth book in Richelle Mead's bestselling Bloodlines series. It's considerably more romantic than earlier installments and by far the steamiest of the franchise, with frequent mentions of a mature couple's physical and eventually sexual relationship. The violence is less pronounced here than in others in the Vampire Academy universe, but characters are injured, hurt, ambushed, and kidnapped. The adult language is on par with Mead's other novels, with the occasional "s--t," "a--hole," and "bulls--t" thrown into the dialogue. Anyone familiar with the previous books in the series should expect many of the same themes: forbidden love, discrimination, honor, duty, friendship, and choosing between what you're told and what you believe is right.
Is It Any Good?
Attention, Bloodlines fans waiting for the steamy romance: Richelle Mead has answered your calls for more swoony moments. There's barely a chapter in the book that doesn't refer to Sydney and Adrian's love, from their text messages via a secret "Love Phone" to their many heavy makeout (and more) sessions, to their poetic declarations of neverending loyalty and commitment. But, as Shakespeare said in Romeo and Juliet, "these violent delights have violent ends," and the possibility of violence is what makes Adrian and Sydney's love a questionable proposition -- at least until the final book of the series.
Some of the likable secondary characters from previous books take a backseat to all the romance, but they're still there dealing with their own unrequited infatuations and entanglements, such as vampire princess Jill, her steadfast guardian Eddie, and the unpredictable dhampir Angeline, who pretends to like English guardian Neil but is actually quite taken with Sydney's friend Trey. Although Mead's clearly quite adept at writing about romantic chemistry, readers who appreciate Sydney's more bookish personality may be slightly disappointed that she's more likely to wax poetic about Adrian's body than ancient civilizations, philosophy, or even cars, as she's done in previous installments. Let's hope there's more of a balance between the mind and the body in the next book.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.