Review: The Immortal Rules by Julie Kagawa

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Author: Julie Kagawa
Genre: young-adult, supernatural, dystopia, post-apocalyptic
Series: Blood of Eden #1
Pages: 504 (Nook ARC edition)
Published: April 2012
Source: publishers via NetGalley
Rating: 3.75/5

 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.

 I'm of mixed feelings about this book. I want to "really like" this book and therefore award it 4 stars, I do, I swear. But, I just can't do more than that 3.75 when I look back at the novel as a whole and how dissatisfied I was with aspects of it. What sticks out in my mind are both the good and bad. The not-so-good: frequent lulls in the beginning/middle-ish with Allison receiving infodumps training from her sire vampire or her alone and walking forevvver, and the cliched treatment of secondary characters. The good: interesting history leading up to the current post-apocalyptic scenario, a strong, believable female main character, strong fight scenes when they finally appeared, a novel in which vampires are monsters and not something to sigh over and long for. While this obviously wasn't the "YAY"-type start I'd hoped for with this new series, I also had a less-than-enthusiastic start with The Iron King but went on to love the sequels. Here's hoping.

The Immortal Rules certainly has a lot going for it on the surface: it's engaging, fun, appropriately full of horror and death, but I have Issues. My first issue is the whitewashing of the cover- I can't go on without mentioning how irritating and sad this trend is. Allison Sekemoto is Asian, and for everything else about her, a goddamn badass. She should be represented on the cover as such - not this generic, Caucasion-ish woman. Superficiality (or not...) aside.. There's not much that is new here, for all this being a mix of the vampire novel genre and post-apocalyptic/dystopia genre. Allison wrestles with her nature at least as much as her feelings for human love-interest Zeke, but it's been done before. The vampire system here is creative and relatively well-thought out but "humans as cattle required to bloodbands" idea? I've also read that idea before (Blood Rights and also The Morganville Vampires series.) Another predictable trend I was sad to see Kagawa use was the instant, useless and baseless "girl-on-girl hatred" side character Ruth exhibits towards Allie simply for being another girl. As a reader, I gather I'm supposed to hate Ruth; she's shrill and prejudiced against Allie and openly vicious and stupid for no real reason. However, to do so and dislike her feels like off-sides manipulation. I'm just bone-tired of girls in YA seeing one another as threats for mates boys' attention just for cliched drama. Ruth is needless, useless, cliched and ultimately, just underdeveloped and obvious.

I do have to admit that Julie Kagawa has proven she can definitely write much more than just her faerie novel series - The Immortal Rules is drastically different from The Iron Fey, in tone if not as much in the style. Main character Allison has her own unique and distinct voice, even if like Meghan, this is sole POV novel told from the perspective of a very special young girl. She lives in a dark, harsh world and the author isn't above taking out some characters to enforce just how cruel life (and unlife?) can be there. I also like that Allison frequently is the hero of the situation - both pre and post-vampirism. She helps her friends and herself, not waiting around for Zeke or any other male (or Prince. Sorry, Ash.) It's a nice change, like the use of a nonwhite race for main character. Though this is romantic-love-triangle free (whodathunkit?), there are multiple external pressures levered against Allison for motivation. She's constantly torn between being as "human" as she can with her intrepid band, or becoming what she sees as a true monster. (view spoiler)

It can't be said that The Immortal Rules is lacking for many things when the ball finally gets rolling: atmosphere, anticipation, action... all there aplenty once Allison leaves the introduction and New Covington. Julie Kagawa is a rare author who can definitely write a tense, crisp fight scene. Though I'm often guilty of giving "Waif Fu" the side-eye, it becomes more understandable when it is a katana-wielding terror of the night. I may have issues and quibbles but I do have to give credit where it is due and the novel ups the ante late in the game, both action and character-wise. The last Part of the book is both the best and the most action-packed - rabid fights, vampire fights, roving biker gangs... Kagawa pulls out all the stops and ends her first Blood of Eden novel with (several) bangs and dead bodies.

So despite the fact that my expectations for this weren't quite met, I had a good time with The Immortal Rules. The good eventually outweighs the negative I took away from reading and I'm cautiously optimistic for the forthcoming sequels. Allison is a compelling narrator and her story obviously goes on, and I will be tuning in to see how the chips fall.


  1. I'm reading this now, and I love it! I just love how it comes off as a "horror movie". I don't know how else to describe it haha :)

    Although, I don't understand the cover either. At all.

    1. I'm excited to see where she goes with it/Allie in the next two books. And it is refreshing to read scary/bad vampires again!


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