Published by Harlequin Teen on March 26th 2013
Genres: Young Adult, Dystopian, Paranormal
To survive in a ruined world, she must embrace the darkness.
Allison Sekemoto survives in the Fringe, the outermost circle of a walled-in 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 dies and becomes one of the monsters.
Forced to flee her city, Allie must pass for human as she joins a ragged group of pilgrims seeking a legend—a place that might have a cure for the disease that killed off most of civilization and created the rabids, the bloodthirsty creatures who threaten human and vampire alike. And soon Allie will have to decide what and who is worth dying for again.
Enter Julie Kagawa's dark and twisted world as an unforgettable journey begins.
For me, a simple written paranormal book like The Immortal Rules is the epitome of a guilty pleasure read. Many aspects of this book didn’t work for me, from the yawn-worthy tropes to the inconsistencies to the lack of originality. And yet, somehow, I reached a point in the book, starting from which I couldn’t put this down anymore, unexpectingly hooked by the plot.
“Reaching back, I drew my blade, feeling it rasp free, gleaming
as it came into the light. Looking up at the approaching rabids, I smiled.”
I suspected I wasn’t going to love this book as much as many of my friends from the first page on. I know, you’re probably thinking I was too quick to judge, but my favourite books usually capture me with the first line or the first page. It’s not that the writing isn’t serviceable, it just isn’t anything particularly special and noteworthy. The alternating tenses, however, confused me a great deal. For example, one paragraph will be in past tense and the next in the present, which kind of makes sense if you assume that the narrator is still alive and the world still exists as it is, but it creates a lot of uncomfortable bumps in the narration. The world-building, though not spared from info-dumps at times, is sufficient for a dystopian world with a paranormal storyline. If you’re looking for a somewhat original dystopian world, however, then you’re at the wrong address here. The Immortal Rules had nothing to offer that I haven’t seen before: Cities ruled by a supernatural power, humans enslaved or running free but scavenging for food, danger at the hands of vampires and savage creatures looming around every corner (and when I say savage creatures, imagine something like in I Am Legend. Ewww). The paranormal aspect of the book could have been more original, too, as Kagawa operates with the most basic of vampire clichés. Hey, look, they burn in the sun. Oh, you can only kill one by beheading it. No, a stake won’t kill but paralyze. Now, where have I heard that before? At the very least, The Immortal Rules makes the most of the clichés it works with. And then, I noticed some inconsistencies, such as the heroine encountering a vampire and identifying it as such due to the black eyes, but when she is turned, no one ever discovers her true nature because of her appearance? Did I miss something here?
The main character – Allison Sekemoto – has a noticeable case of special snowflake. Naturally, all vampires are portrayed as blood-thirsty assholes, but when she is turned, none of those despicable characteristics apply to her. She’s so good-hearted and soft and mushy, and she makes such stupid mistakes. She keeps thinking like a human (most of the time), even though she really isn’t. She is told that no vampire has ever managed to keep their human side at the surface? Well, Allie is speciuuul and she can, of course, do it. Her predator instincts are so tame at first, which means I was so bored. As the plot progressed, however, I started warming up to her as a heroine. She doesn’t pity herself for long, instead she becomes brave and determined. She delivers a shitload of snark and she kicks some major ass. You cannot but adore a Katana-wielding half-Japanese vampire, I swear.
The love interest, on the other hand, is cut straight out of cardboard. He’s so purrrfect with his pretty face, his sexy blonde bangs, and then, of course, he’s a fucking Mother Teresa, what else? A little angel who cuts down his own rations on food to feed others, because that is the human instinct when you’re starving, right? He’s always looking out for everyone but himself, so much like Allie, I wanted to give him a good shake. He’s basically a male Bella Swan, a blind and selfless little idiot who falls for a vampire. I don’t know whether he improves or if I just got used to his attitude, but he became a lot more bearable towards the end.
I have to admit, I was prepared to give this a rating lower than 3 stars for the first half of the book. I was bored to death. Nothing impressed me. My endurance paid off, though, because the second half was so much more fast-paced and action-packed. Allie, now a vampire and predator, was at a constant risk of exposure, which is one of my favourite kinds of plot devices.
Judging by the glowing 5-star reviews this has received on Goodreads, I would consider The Immortal Rules a disappointment, yes. Though the main character grew on me and the plot had me hooked around halfway through the book, this dystopian lacked originality and depth, which is why I’d categorise it as a guilty pleasure read more than as something I took seriously.