Monday, 18 June 2012

The Immortal Rules

Author: Julie Kagawa
Genre: Young Adult / Supernatural
Type: Kindle E-book (Advanced Reading Copy)
Series: 1st book in the Blood of Eden series
First Published: April 2012
First Line: "They hung the Unregistereds in the old warehouse district; it was a public execution, so everyone went to see."

Synopsis:  After a virus practically eradicates the human species, life is less than bleak for the human race.  Humans are now the bottom feeders of the world and at the mercy of the vampire race.  In order to maintain their supremacy vampires keep a large group of humans who donate their blood in exchange for an easier life.  Those who do not allow the vampires to feed from them or know their whereabouts 24/7 are considered "Unregistereds".  This group of humans are left to fend for themselves spending all of their time stealing food and not getting caught by the vampire authorities. 

Allie Sekemoto is one of the Unregistereds who lives in New Covington, a city run by vampires. Allie's life has been extremely hard. Losing her parents at a young age and now living in The Fringe, New Covington's outer limits, life is a daily struggle for Allie who spends most of her time scavenging for food.

During one of her more dangerous scavenging hunts for food Allie goes beyond The Fringe and past the protective wall that keeps all of New Covington safe from what lies beyond. Unfortunately Allie and her friends are met by a pack of Rabids (feral zombie-like vampires) whose only goal is to satisfy their bloodlust. After witnessing her friends being violently attacked Allie tries to escape but is met by another Rabid who attacks her. Left clinging to life Allie is found by a vampire named Kanin.  Kanin gives Allie a choice - become a vampire or die and become a Rabid herself. Given the choice between 'life' and something worse than death Allie decides to become what she has always hated. 

Luckily for Allie, Kanin agrees to teach Allie The Immortal Rules and how to live as a vampire.  As Allie trains she learns secrets about Kanin that changes how she views her Sire.  When things come to a head Allie is forced to leave Kanin and New Covington and fend for herself.  Will she turn into a vampire who is only focused on satisfying her bloodlust or will she be able to hang on to her humanity even though she's become the monster she once despised?

My Thoughts:  Unless you live under a rock you know that vampire reads are all the rage.  Some may say that they're run their course.  I was almost at that point until I read this book.  Typically vampire stories have the vampires in hiding from the humans.  Kagawa takes a totally different view in that vampires hold all of the power and humans are at their mercy.  It's not sparkle-in-the-sun, romantic bloodsuckers here.  Kagawa has built a very interesting premise to surround her story and I loved this new, refreshing take on such a popular topic.  The story is set in a very dark, dystopian world where the environment is dangerous and very gritty. 

One of the things that set this book apart for me was that Allie was such a strong and likeable main character.  She was well-rounded and flawed which made her believable and easy to root for.  She doesn't get things handed to her and learns a tough life lesson: that life is filled with grey areas.  Few things in life are black and white, right and wrong, good and bad.

I enjoyed seeing how Allie struggled with becoming the 'monster' that she hates and how hard she tries to hold on to her humanity.  I found it ironic that Allie doesn't really begin to 'live' until she dies and becomes a vampire and that her humanity and compassion grow as she comes to accept her fate as a vampire. I found her much less 'human' and more heartless in the beginning of the book before she was turned.  Allie's inner struggle between her humanity and bloodlust continues throughout the book which I think made it more realistic and authentic.  If she would have jumped on the bloodsucker bandwagon right off the bat it would have come off as lame and trite for me. 

This book had three sections to it with slightly different feels to each and I think these distinct sections as well as new characters who were introduced really helped propel the storyline and keep me interested.  The first part of the book deals with Allie's life as an Unregistered as well as Kanin teaching her how to live as a vampire.  The second part of the book follows Allie as she makes her way in the bigger world without Kanin and struggles to control her bloodlust.  By the third part of the book the pace ratcheted up big time and is non-stop action finishing off with a wicked cliffhanger that has me anxiously awaiting the second book in this series.   Not a bad way to end a book I must say!

As for the writing in general?  Kagawa has a great writing style that sucked me right in.  She also has a wonderful ability to give the reader a peek at a storyline (ie. Kanin's story) then goes on a different tangent yet, as the reader, I get the feeling that we haven't seen the last of Kanin (who was a great, mysterious character).  I love me some anticipation in a book/series!  Now Kagawa does admittedly have a few balls in the air with this book but she writes it in a way that's easy for the reader to keep track of what's going on, who's who and still helps keep the momentum and anticipation up for the reader.

This book is filled with action (albeit towards the end), some gore (we're are talking about vampires) and a wee bit of PG-rated romance.  If there was one thing that I didn't float my boat it's the romance.  I just wasn't totally on board with Allie's love interest.  He was nice but seemed too blaw.  I saw them as more friends than anything romantic.  Perhaps that was because I had someone totally different in mind for her love interest.

One of my favourite characters was Kanin, Allie's vampire sire.  Unfortunately he's not in this book as much as I would have hoped.  He and Allie had a great chemistry together and could banter back and forth quite well.  He is a strong and engaging main male character so I'm hoping (and predicting) that Kanin reappears in future books to spice things up. 

If you haven't guessed yet I really enjoyed this book.  It's got a wonderful pace with a refreshing take on an 'old' tale that stars a great main character who is not only realistic but you end up rooting for her.  Nothing is sugar coated and yet its not over-the-top either.  If you're looking for a new vamp read I recommend giving this book a try.

My Rating: 4/5 stars

Note:  My sincere thanks to Net Galley and Harlequin Teen for providing me with this Advanced Reading Copy in exchange for my honest review.

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