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The Immortal Rules by Julie Kagawa

Posted on Apr 29, 2012 by in 4 stars, Book Reviews | 0 comments

The Immortal Rules

Author:  Julie Kagawa
Series:  Blood of Eden #1
Format:  e-Book Galley ARC
Source:  Harlequin Teen, via NetGalley
Release Date:  April 24, 2012
Dates Read:  April 18-26 , 2012

In a future world, vampires reign. Humans are blood cattle. And one girl will search for the key to save humanity.

Allison Sekemoto survives in the Fringe, the outermost circle of a vampire city. By day, she and her crew scavenge for food. By night, any one of them could be eaten.

Some days, all that drives Allie is her hatred of them. The vampires who keep humans as blood cattle. Until the night Allie herself is attacked–and given the ultimate choice. Die…or become one of the monsters.

Faced with her own mortality, Allie becomes what she despises most. To survive, she must learn the rules of being immortal, including the most important: go long enough without human blood, and you will go mad.

Then Allie is forced to flee into the unknown, outside her city walls. There she joins a ragged band of humans who are seeking a legend–a possible cure to the disease that killed off most of humankind and created the rabids, the mindless creatures who threaten humans and vampires alike.

But it isn’t easy to pass for human. Especially not around Zeke, who might see past the monster inside her. And Allie soon must decide what–and who–is worth dying for.

This book was obtained freely from the publisher, Harlequin Teen, via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

When I received notification on April 17th that my request to read and review The Immortal Rules was accepted, I was ecstatic.  Then immediately very sad, because I had impending finals in pharmacy school.  Some of them were cumulative, but even the ones that were not had a ton of material.  And that’s not even to mention the sundry assignments, quizzes, presentations and debates due around this time.  I was unprepared and unable to give myself much time off from studying to read.  So, that it took me so long to finish the book is not a reflection of the novel itself, but only of my insanely busy schedule and bad timing.  Now that that’s out of the way, on to the book!

The Immortal Rules offers a fresh take on vampires and dystopian fiction alike.  One girl, accustomed to finding her own way to survive on the fringe of a society where humans trade their freedom and blood for food and shelter is forced to decide what she really values most in her life.

One night.  One night is all it takes.  Leaving the borders of the vampire-ruled city of New Covington is always a dangerous prospect.  Even if one can slip past the guards, the pets and the vampires themselves, they must face the risk of the infected animals, rabids, and other dangers that lurk outside the walls.  However, trips to the outside become a necessity when food can’t be obtained inside the city.  Only Registered humans are given food and shelter.  Unregistereds generally have to steal food — a grave offense punishable by death, if caught.  When tensions run high, stealing simply becomes too much of a risk to take.  Thus, Allie sneaks out that afternoon, and manages gets lucky.  She’s found something that could change the life of her small crew for the better for a long time.  All they have to do is get out, get it, and get back.  But of course, things can never be that simple.  In one night, her life as she knows it is snatched away from her, and Allie is left with a choice — to lie down and die or to become the very thing she hates the most.

After she makes her choice, Allison has to learn the rules to surviving as an immortal.  While her sire tells her that she is undoubtedly a monster, she must decide the type of demon she wishes to be.  Regardless of what she decides, the most important rule is this:  she must consume human blood, or she will go mad.  At the earliest stages, her hunger will become an dangerous, uncontrollable bloodlust.  At the latest, she will become no better than a rabid, totally losing touch with reality and any of the humanity she has left.  Once she learns all her sire will teach her, she is forced out of the city she has lived in her whole life, left alone in the unknown wilderness to find her way.  When she happens upon a ragtag bunch of humans searching for a fabled vampire-free city and the possibility for a cure, Allie has to face some tough choices and realizations about herself and those around her.

At its heart, The Immortal Rules is a story about what it means to be human, and about the snap judgment that humans pass on those that they consider to be the “other”, just out of principle.  It is more than a vampire love story.  It is a coming-of-age story, a coming to terms with humanity and the lack thereof story.  It is a story full of mystery, thrills, angst, conflict, close calls, discrimination, betrayal, and loyalty.  Kawaga writes a solid protagonist in Allison Sekemoto–a strong, kick-ass, but still cynical and realistic female lead.  However, Kagawa doesn’t make the mistake of not developing or leading the reader to care about the the secondary characters.  They have their own personalities, their own decisions, their own consequences.  Allie must deal with them, face them when she doubts her humanity, and when they doubt hers.  They are not simply cookie-cutter fill-ins, but contribute significantly to the story.  Although I go from liking Zeke to liking him significantly less and back, I found his character interesting and believable.  I strongly disliked Jeb, but his character served a big role in the story.  The presence of the children make Allie’s grappling with her hunger for blood more desperate and important.  The other characters and the ways in which they interact with each other, add to the conflict or deal with it, and grow are a valuable part of the novel.

I recommend The Immortal Rules to fans of vampires, dystopian societies, and coming-of-age stories.  Fans of vampires dealing with the loss of their humanity, or dealing with the fear humans exhibit toward them, the consequences of losing their old lives will find their niche here.  Even readers who tire of hearing and reading about vampires can enjoy this novel.  It is something different, something fresh.  Kawaga breathes new life into the genre.  I can’t wait for the next novels in the Blood of Eden series.  I wish they’d come out yesterday!

Rating: ★★★★½ 

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