Reading level: Young adult
Genre: Urban fantasy
Mass market paperback: 512 pages
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Release date: April 24, 2012
Series: Blood of Eden #1
Source: Review copy from Harlequin
Reviewed by: Tynga and Jenn
You will kill. The only question is when.
In the dark days since the insidious Red Lung virus decimated the human population, vampires have risen to rule the crumbling cities and suburbs. Uncontested Princes hold sway over diminished ranks of humans: their "pets." In exchange for their labor, loyalty and of course, their blood, these pets are registered, given food and shelter, permitted to survive.
Unregistered humans cling to fringes, scavenging for survival. Allison Sekemoto and her fellow Unregistereds are hunted, not only by vampires, but by rabids, the unholy result of Red Lung-infected vampires feeding on unwary humans. One night, Allie is attacked by a pack of rabids, saved by an unlikely hero...and turned vampire.
Uncomfortable in her undead skin, Allie falls in with a ragtag crew of humans seeking a cure, or cures: for Rabidism and for Vampirism. She's passing for human...for now. But the hunger is growing and will not be denied. Not for friendship—not even for love.
Set sixty odd years after a nasty virus hit humanity, killing the majority of the race and creating zombie-like monstrosity, The Immortal Rules has everything it needs to grab its readers and keep them into its claws. In this enthralling adventure, we follow the steps of Allie Sekemoto, who tries restlessly to keep herself, and the people she cares about, alive. Growing up in the Fringe, she knows how hard life is and that in this vampire and rabid infested world it’s everyone for themselves, but life has other plans for her.
Let me start by saying that I LOVED The Immortal Rules. Julie Kagawa did an amazing job writing this very unusual vampire and zombie dystopian book. The story is written from first person point of view, Allison’s, and I thought she was one amazing character. I also really like that Kagawa split the book into multiple parts, segmenting each phase of Allie’s story, marking her personal progression at the same time.
Allison Sekemoto, a determined Asian girl, was the perfect hero for this novel. She is disillusioned from the beginning, living in the Fringe of a vampire town, scavenging to find food, hiding from the preying bloodsuckers and trying not to get killed by rabids whenever she attempts a supply run outside the city walls when the times are harder. She sees life in dark shades of grey, not expecting much from life, but secretly hoping for more. She hits a turning point though when she is savagely attacked by rabids and a vampire offers to save her life, making her one of his own, or to cut her misery short, offering her a quick death. Strangely, becoming a vampire made Allison more human, because she was determined to keep her monster at bay, and I thoroughly enjoyed witnessing her determination, her desire to do the right thing and her heartbreaks when she failed. She’s not perfect, far from it, but she fights so hard to be a better person – better vampire – that you can’t help but cheer for her and feel a strong urge to comfort her (even if she’d never let you) when she's down.
Allie wasn’t the only great character though. Kanin, the vampire who turned Allie and taught her some basic vampire survival rules was really mysterious and I found myself immediately drawn to him, even though he is a moody bastard at times. He isn’t center stage in this novel though, and I really hope we’ll discover more about him in the second book. Zeke, a teenage boy Allie stumbles upon in her aimless roaming, turned out to be fantastic as well. He is part of a travelling crew, hoping to discover Eden, a rumored safe place without any rabids or vampires. He is strong, determined, big-hearted and really endearing. He will go through a lot in this novel, and I enjoyed watching him struggle when his beliefs were challenged.
The journey Julie Kagawa take us on was exhausting in the best ways. Allie started as a strong willed human, than became runaway monster and ended up as a body guard. The transition between her states of mind were really smooth and the pace was just perfect. The whole book happens within a couple of weeks window and the time frame Julie set was believable. Most of the book is a very linear journey, toward a mythical goal, yet none of it was boring. Kagawa really made every moment count, not wasting a single word.
I particularly loved how the author chose to focus on humanity even though her world is filled with monsters and Allie is considered a demon by many. In many ways Allie was more human than a lot of other characters she crossed path with and it’s why this book so precious. You can label other people all you want, but what should matter is their actions, not their very nature.
The conclusion, and the moments leading to it, where heart-breaking and heart-warming all at same time. I’m not going to spoil anything, so I will just say that some characters will take unexpected decisions, for better or for worst, and that not everyone will survive this first novel. I’m really excited for the second novel but I’m a bit on the fence because the way this first book ends, I find myself wondering which characters will be part of the second book.
The Immortal Rules was an harsh tale on humanity, and what it really means, in a world filled with violence and monsters. This tale of trust and betrayal showed that the most likely enemy isn’t always the one you should fear the most and that friendships can be broken in the blink of an eye. Kagawa delivers an amazing dystopian story on silver plating and I’m craving for more.
Tynga's done an amazing job of explaining why THE IMMORTAL RULES is the beginning of what promises to be an exciting new dystopian vampire series. I'm going to keep my comments short to (try to) avoid repeating what Tynga's already said.
THE IMMORTAL RULES sucked me in once I started reading it. I started reading it one night before bed, intending to read a few chapters, and ended up finishing it in the wee hours of the morn. Julie Kagawa's created an amazing world and inhabited it with wonderful characters and they are impossible to resist. Here's why:
Allie's humanity only shows once she's become a monster. When she's living as an Unregistered in the vampire city, we see sparks of selflessness but Allie's really in it to survive, no matter what. Don't get me wrong, you'll be rooting for Unregistered Allie in no time but it's when she's transformed and is forced to adapt to her new life that she really shines. We see a new maturity and resolve that make Allie an even more interesting character. She has to face some hard truths as part of her transition from human to vampire, which is tough on Allie but great for the reader. Plus, as you get further into the story, the contrast between Allie and some of the pilgrims looking for Eden are quite striking because the author's done a wonderful job of showing the different shades of humanity and how tragedy and adversity can shape people.
Julie Kagawa's world building is outstanding in this book. The idea of impenetrable vampire cities, where humans are registered as property and are basically treated like cattle, is an interesting spin. It's vampire hoarding at the extreme but it makes a lot of sense in the context of this world. =) She's created a visceral world and I loved how gritty and real it feels just as soon as you start reading. I also love the contrast between vampires and rabids, especially since the main difference between them seems to be that the vampires retain their personalities (as long as they feed regularly) while rabids are animalistic, feral killing machines. The explanation for why rabids exist is really interesting and will definitely play a huge role in future novels, if I'm not mistaken.
I'm also terribly intrigued by Kanin and his role in shaping the society that the book is set in. He's a tough mentor for Allie and we learn a lot about him over the course of THE IMMORTAL RULES. He's in a unique position in vampire society and it will be interesting to see how that plays out over the series.
I'll close off by saying that THE IMMORTAL RULES is an outstanding novel, filled with action, tough choices, and harsh realities. It's dystopian but has some hopeful moments and you'll find yourself rooting for Allie before you know it.