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The Immortal Rules by Julie Kagawa (2012)

Being a vampire turns you white…literally. (Because I can’t resist joining in on the why-is-this-white-girl-on-the-cover-when-the-main-character-is-Asian thing)

The Immortal Rules(2012)
by Julie Kagawa (blog.)
Hardcover Edition
Publication Date: Apr 24, 2012
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
purchase a copy via Amazon.
synopsis via Goodreads.

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.

My Thoughts:
Undeniably one of this years most anticipated YA releases, Julie Kagawa’s The Immortal Rules is a 500-page roller coaster, an heart-pounding thrill ride, that oddly doesn’t feel like 500 pages by the time you’re done. We are brought into a post-apocalyptic world where the undead live among the living and much of the living has been wiped out by a plague. Sword-wielding seventeen year old vampire, Allison Sekemoto, is determined lead a rebellion, to overthrow the vampire monarchy…until she becomes one of them herself. Allison knows how to be bold, but more importantly, how to slash a wild, rabid boar in half.

Throughout the novel, I kept wondering how it would work out: could vampires and humans coexist for vampires were once humans after all. Maybe vampires and humans were not so different after all. Humans (at least according to Allie) would not pause to sell out one of their own for survival anyway, so what’s so bad about a vampire taking a bit of blood for survival? And I don’t see how vampires can rule, when they can be killed so easily in the day; you basically have 12 hours of daylight to cut off their heads, or are vampire cities sealed so tight that UV rays can’t get through?

The character development held me back from loving the book. As much as I adored Allison and Kanin, everyone else felt surprisingly flat. The villains were completely one-dimensional: they want power, and they will stop at nothing to get it.

I loved her attitude, strength, and on top of it, she’s funny (inside her head at least.) You definitely won’t catch her dying without a fight. She has a cynical view on life, believing that anyone can and will sell her out. For the sake of survival, she is cautious about being emotionally attached to anyone.
We see her struggle against her blood-thirsty, demon nature as she tries to retain her “humanity.” It is rather convenient that the people she “feeds” off of are jerks, or people about to die anyway. We see her viewing humans as “friends” to referring herself as a separate being calling them “you humans.”
Though her will to survive is strong, she lost purpose once she became immortal. When she was human, she fought for survival and dreamed of a rebellion; but once she was a vampire, she didn’t need to worry about starving on the streets anymore (just as long as she was around humans anyway) and it’s not like she’s going to turn against her own kind. I was starting to wonder why she chose to be a vampire to begin with if she had no goals. When she was human, she did have this naive thought of teaching everyone to read so that they could rebel against vampires, though I’m not sure how that would work out. Maybe her next goal should be to lead as many people to Eden as possible?
Allison also has a seriously bad habit of growling, snarling, and is obsessed with hearing hearts pound against rib cages.

The Love Interests
Lucas: Allison’s first kiss and the leader of Allison’s scavenger gang. He gets “killed” by rapids almost as soon as his character is semi-established. I wonder if he will come back…

Kanin: Okay, so maybe he isn’t an explicit love interest, but one can hope, right? I keep wanting to pronounce his name “canine” whenever I see his name. I guessed his backstory and his “master” status pages before Allison did, which either makes me intelligent, the foreshadowing too obvious, or Allison kind of slow. He is the most intriguing character, with a load of mysteries I’m dying to unravel. He is the fairytale vampire who is suave, aloof, and whose wardrobe probably consists of fancy suits. Oh yes, and he can fight.

Zeke: Even though he is Allison’s love interest, he is hard for the reader to love…because he is too perfect. He is the guy with perfect morals along with dashing good looks. His optimism is borderline stupidity. His only “flaw” is that he keeps blaming himself for the deaths of others, which might be a positive thing rather than negative. I just couldn’t like him despite really wanting to. He loves Allison, but I can’t imagine them together since I think of him as dead weight. Though I admit I loved how their romance progressed step by step, and Allison being oblivious to his feelings.

The Unlikable Group of Ungratefuls:
This group of characters are even more hateful than evil, bloodthirsty vampires with no redeeming qualities. Kagawa does a great job “punishing” these characters, though it’s frustrating that most of them still haven’t learned their lesson.

Rat: A swearing, stealing scavenger who was a part of Allison’s group in the beginning. He was “punished” pretty quickly (and boy was I happy), and I half-expect him to come back as a rabid.

Stick: A useless wimp and former friend of Allison. He eventually betrays Allison to survive, though why anyone would believe some starving nobody is beyond me. I admit to cheering inside whenever he was getting scolded for being useless. Even his name sounds like something expendable. The sad thing is that he never learns to man-up. I have a feeling he won’t last very long.

Jeb: Zeke’s father and the leader of the group that is trying to find Eden. I can’t even understand his actions, but he annoys me for he refuses to doubt himself. For a moment, I suspected that he created the rabid virus himself just so he can gain a group of followers. Apparently he has a map, but it sounds to me they were heading aimlessly for three years.

Ruth: Ruth is easily one of the most hateful characters, her decisions only revolve around the love of her life, Zeke, and any female that comes within a twenty-yard radius is a love rival. I kept wishing this girl had more substance than her unsuccessful love life. You have to give her props for standing up to a vampire inches from her neck though. SPOILER ALERT: You have to wonder what’s wrong with this chick when her last words end up like a romance flick where she tells Zeke that she loves him…instead of her mourning little brother. Just like Stick, I kept wishing she would change…but she never did.

Kagawa knows how to build up intrigue and suspense in her pacing to give her readers a heart-pounding thrill ride, making the reader turn pages late into the night. Just as you think there’s room to breathe, she surprises you. You will be half-way through the book before you know it.

World-building is where Kagawa’s writing shines. She can make deserted forest, dark sewers, and dilapidated buildings turn beautiful in her writing. I was fully engrossed in her world. Though I did get lost at times, especially during that underwater rescue mission: how do you open a heavy door underwater and not have water bursting in?

The Immortal Rules is the book for readers who think they’ve read it all in the vampire genre, because you’re in for a big surprise.

Rating: B

Spoilery Questions I Just Need To Get Out of My System:
When Allison returns to the hospital after visiting Stick, Kanin asks her how Stick reacted after she “showed” him–which makes me wonder if Kanin followed her to know that she “showed” Stick her fangs instead of telling him.
How do you know what vampire rank you belong to? Jackal mentioned having the potential to become a “Master,” so you train to become a Master, or are you just lucky?
Did Allison ever give Zeke the Jeb’s data chip?