Oh, Richelle Mead, how you delight and torture me! This is my favorite YA series: I read the first four Vampire Academy books in a few days, then waited for what seemed like forever for Spirit Bound; you made it worth the wait.(This spoiler-free review is based on the assumption that you've read the previous 4 books)As the book opens, Rose is getting ready to take her Guardian Trials, which also means graduation. As Rose and Lissa head to Court to begin their adult lives, they end up taking a "field trip" - a very dangerous (and illegal) one. This field trip leads to pieces of information that will change lives well into the next book.Ms. Mead infuses the wonderful humor I've come to expect and enjoy in her writing - she really "gets" teens and their sometimes ridiculous thought processes:Mia looked determined when we reached her, though, and I felt encouraged by her attitude - and that she was wearing all black. True, it wouldn't do much in sunlight, but it made this all feel more legitimate.And yet, the visual images she creates are so real I can imagine myself as a bystander, witnessing events as they happen, my hands clenched and my heart in my throat:Her face, even marred with the fire's terrible damage, was radiant and filled with compassion. SPOILER had called me an avenging angel, but she was an angel of mercy as she gazed down at him and crooned soothing, nonsense words.I can't go into much of the plot without spoilers, but here's my thoughts on some of the players:Tatiana, the queen Moroi was as nasty as I thought she was...or was she?Rose's dad, Abe, is really growing on me. I think he's growing on Rose, too. We got to see Rose's mother in the beginning of the book, but I felt like she was conspicuously absent in the last half of the book. I don't know why she wasn't there.We get to meet Adrian's parents! (Rose and Mrs. Ivashkov had a very interesting conversation at that first meeting...)Christian is a pretty decent guy. I liked him in the previous books and he did not disappoint as a character I can count on to do the right thing.Lissa: I actually liked Lissa in this book. In previous books she comes off as dainty and selfish. In Spirit Bound, she was pretty kick-ass. Don't get me wrong, there were some scenes were I was like, "Damn, Lissa - what about Rose?", but definitely a big improvement from previous books. I guess Rose isn't the only character who's done some growing up!I really, really like Dimitri - even though he broke my heart in this book. I have much love for Dimitri and high hopes for him in the next book.And Adrian, oh Adrian! When Adrian was first introduced into the series I liked him as a character but not as a love interest for Rose. With this book, I fall more in love with Adrian: at one point, I did a mental *fist pump* and thought "yay!" - and then Rose surprised me. Here's the thing - unlike other Moroi/dhampir relationships, I don't see Adrian leaving Rose eventually; he could be The One, if she'd let him. I'm torn - Dimitri or Adrian? I'd be happy and at the same time heartbroken either way.We also briefly visit a few characters from the last few books: Jill, Mia, Ambrose, and Ambrose's Aunt Rhonda to name a few. And yes, Rose does get another tarot reading :)And, if the cliffhanger ending wasn't enough, right before we close the pages Rose gets information that could potentially change Lissa's life, AND the lives of current and future dhampirs. Oh, Ms. Mead, how you tease me! The last book in this series, Last Sacrifice, is due out December 7. I've never wanted December to get here so badly!Spirit Bound gets 5/5 stars - definitely a keeper!!!