The third book in the Vampire Academy series follows the pattern of the previous books in that it starts off slowly, increases pace in the middle, and the last 20% is so fast, you have a hard time putting it down. So far, I enjoyed this edition the most, though the mystery I guessed very soon, a lot sooner than Rose. At least, it didn't take her hundreds of pages as it did Bella in New Moon about the wolves. That was where I gave up on that thing. The ending I knew a few pages before it happened, because it made sense story-building-wise.
In this book Rose evolves away from Lissa even more. It's a natural progressing, as in the first book Rose was centred around her, then with the romance in the second book she started to get away from her more, until in this book Lissa is just on the side, with Rose having a lot more things to focus on. The story does have many strands, but in the end they come together nicely, and everything makes sense, even though some events are clearly building up for future conflicts.
While there is a conflict between the Rose we meet in the first book, and the Rose we part from in the third, it is a natural progression. The reasons why teenagers seem to only care about themselves and go against authority have an explanation in the development of individual identity. In order for people to establish who they are, what they want to do, where they want to go with their lives, people need this stage. If it's interrupted, or doesn't happen at all, people often experience a sense of being lost, of not knowing what they want to do. People need to establish their own sense of self, and only then can they be adults, and live their lives with others. Rose had to break away from Lissa, and discover who Rose was, so that she can be later who Lissa needs her to be.
In a way, the first three books of this series complete an arch. There is a clear break at the end of this one. So the series can be regarded to be actually two.
Overall, a very enjoyable addition. In fact, this is probably my favourite so far. The only reason why I didn't start the next book right away, was because I had to go to work. The woes of the working woman!
One last thing to add to this review is that when Rose picked up the stake, I was kind of picturing this: