Expected Publication Date: April 24, 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.
***Edited to Add: Something wonky went down with the auto-posting, and this review didn't get posted on schedule. Sorry for any inconvenience!***
Writing this review makes me feel a bit like I did the first time I saw Tool as a teenager, jumping and screaming at the foot of the stage for all I was worth: it doesn't matter how loud you scream, so many other people are screaming too that you are just another indistinguishable voice in the mob of fans, BUT you scream anyway because you just can't help yourself.
A friend and I were recently talking about the current -- in his words -- "Superman" trend in the monsters of paranormal fantasy: they are smarter, faster, better, stronger (sorry, channeling Daft Punk here, but you get the idea); they are everything we (supposedly) want to be or have: they are immortal, unbearably beautiful, wealthy. Many of those attributes have been true for quite a while, but they had to pay for them. They were cursed. Murders. Monsters. Not true for the recent crop. The question isn't why would Bella want to be a vampire, the question is why wouldn't she? The 'hunger' is no worse than an alcoholic wanting a drink or a junky wanting a fix; difficult maybe but not impossible, definitely something that people face and overcome every day. And the payoff is becoming superman! So, all that to say I love the fact that Kagawa's The Immortal Rules gives us back our monsters. Her vampires, and the other creatures she creates, are at times truly horrific.
I also like that Kagawa is willing to take religion head-on. She is willing to discuss faith, belief, and doubt in a frank and non-judgmental way. She asks questions but provides no answers, and I like that.
The thing I think I liked most, though, is the way Kagawa takes our expectations of the genre and plays with them. I expected very different things from Allie's relationships with Stick and Kanin. And, though there is romance with Zeke, I like that Kagawa consistently shows that some things are more important than a budding romance.
"Why then isn't it 5 stars?" you may ask. One word: Ruth. I really appreciate that Allie is a strong, kick-butt female. HOWEVER, we can have more than one of those in a story, right? Girls can be friends. They don't always have to hate each other over guys. I get really tired of heroines who are unable to have female friends because every guy they know wants them and every girl they know is jealous of it. Even with my beef about Ruth, though, The Immortal Rules is one of the best vampire books I have ever read in the YA genre, and I will be eagerly awaiting the rest of the series.
(Also, completely NOT Kagawa's problem, but still something to be addressed, why is the girl on the cover white? It is made repeatedly and abundantly clear in the text that Allie is Asian. Show me that Harlequin Teen!!!)
"You are a moster," Kanin's deep voice droned in my head again, as I forced myself to move, to walk away. "You will always be a monster---there is no turning back from it. But what type of monster you become is entirely up to you."
4 of 5 stars
This review also appears on Goodreads; a review copy was provided by the publisher.